Over the past five years over 15,000 African refugees have arrived in Australia via the federal government's official resettlement program, most of them settling in the suburbs of Melbourne. En-route, many of them have spent ten years or more in refugee camps in arid regions of East Africa with years of inadequate food, enforced inactivity and the threat of violence. Hundreds of thousands of other refugees remain trapped in the camps, their applications for resettlement languishing. Australia is one of only ten western countries which resettles refugees recommended by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, and the federal government has justifiably defended this long-term contribution to assisting the world's refugees. But how fair is the resettlement process? Does it always - as Amanda Vanstone and her predecessor, Philip Ruddock, insist - help the neediest of all refugees? Drawing on interviews with refugees, policymakers, officials and aid workers in Nairobi, Kakuma, Geneva, Canberra and Melbourne, this book looks at the opportunities and obstacles that face refugees whose homeland is in turmoil and whose country of first refuge is ill-equipped to offer a long-term home. Focusing on experiences of refugees who have fled to Kenya from countries like Sudan, Ethiopia and Somalia, this book looks at the how the international resettlement system works, and how some refugees can find the barriers to resettlement too great to overcome.
Peter Browne is editor of Australian Policy Online and a senior research fellow at the Swinburne Institute for Social Research. He is a former producer of the weekly Radio National current affairs program, The National Interest and has contributed articles to a range of publications, including The Age, the Canberra Times, the Sydney Morning Herald, the Australian Financial Review and The Australian. To research this book he made a series of visits to East Africa, travelled to the remote Kakuma refugee camp near the Kenya - Sudan border, and interviewed refugees, aid workers, UNHCR staff and government officials in Nairobi, Kakuma, Geneva, London, Melbourne and Canberra.