South Africa Condemns Australia’s Asylum Plan

By Chuma Kisu

Australia’s Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton.

Australia’s Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton.

According to reports, South Africa has criticized an Australian government minister for suggesting that white South African farmers should get special visas so they can flee “horrific circumstances.”

Australia’s Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton oversees immigration and has drawn international criticism for heading a tough crackdown on asylum-seekers from Asia and the Middle East. According to reports, he said the South Africans deserve “special attention” for acceptance on refugee or humanitarian grounds.

In reports, Dutton cited reports of land seizures and violence targeting the minority white farmers, who control a disproportionate share of the country’s land.

“If you look at the footage, you hear the stories and you read the accounts, it’s a horrific circumstance that they face,” Dutton told Sydney’s Daily Telegraph late Wednesday, March 14, 2018.

“I’ve asked my department to look at options and ways in which we can provide some assistance because I do think on the information I’ve seen people do need help, and they need help from a civilised country like ours.”

The offer was swiftly rebuffed by South Africa, with its foreign ministry saying that no section of the country’s population was in any danger.

In a statement on Wednesday, South Africa’s foreign ministry said: “There is no reason for any government anywhere in the world to suspect that any South African is in danger from their own democratically elected government.

“That threat simply does not exist,” the South Africa’s foreign ministry added.

The statement added that South Africa regretted that the Australian government “chose not to use the available diplomatic channels to raise concerns or to seek clarifications on the land distribution process in South Africa.”

Dutton’s comments come just months after asylum-seekers and refugees held by Australia in a remote Pacific camp were awarded $56 million for being illegally detained and treated negligently in the country’s largest human rights class action settlement.

The Australian capital Canberra, which denied liability, sends asylum-seekers who try to reach Australia by boat- rather than through official channels- to facilities on Nauru in the Pacific and Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island.

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