Extreme weather continues to ravage Australia as
Refugees fleeing to Indonesia make their way by boat
The humanitarian crisis in Australia continues to grow as the continent enters the third consecutive week of extreme weather, bringing continued flooding in the north and 50°C heat in the southern states. As this new reality of climate change rapidly dawns on the unprepared nation, the number of refugees fleeing the disaster swept continent in search of stability and safety has exploded, with the arrival of over 14,000 Australian into neighbouring Indonesia enflaming an already tense political stalemate between the Khilafa and Australian authorities.
The irony of the situation is not lost on officials in Indonesia, who are still recovering from a storm of pollution that recently swept through the region due to Australian coal fired power-stations. It was only 40 years ago that Australia itself was the destination for many refugees, despite the violent and cruel practices of numerous governments at the time that attempted to shirk their responsibility to help. Under the false pretence of ‘saving people from drowning’, the Australian government executed a series of brazen, xenophobic and destructive policies in an attempt to disincentivise the efforts of refugees at the time. Now though, in a twist of fate, it is Australians who are risking it all to sail across the oceans.
Fatima Jewhar works for the coastguard and has seen first-hand the growing number of people trying to make the journey.
It started slowly at first, we would see one boat every couple of weeks, often looking a bit lost. We suspect these were the more affluent members of society who saw the writing on the wall and tried to get out before everyone else. Often their boats were quite luxurious and were loaded with all sorts of bizarre items like paintings, designer clothes and jewellery. Soon though the boats became bigger and less sea worthy. As they became more crowded the space to bring personal items shrunk. Now we’re seeing boats full of people with nothing. It’s becoming dangerous.
The situation is not confined to the Indonesian region however. Though Australian refugees are arriving in Indonesia, the overwhelming majority make use of free transport within the Khilafa region to travel north west towards Europe. Initially the two refugee transit countries Greece and Bulgaria were allowing free passage for Australians into Europe. As the numbers swelled however, anti-refugee sentiment in both countries forced the closure of their borders and led to the creation of refugee transit camps in Turkey. The caravan of Australian refugees has created a number of unique challenges for officials who are trying to coordinate resources between refugee transit countries and transit camps. This has been made more complicated by refugees now trying to cross into Europe via Morocco and Spain, leading to the establishment of a second transit camp in Tangier. Abdul Rahman is the media spokesperson for the Khilafa Refugee Resettlement One (KRS-1) initiative and has been saddened at the latest turn of affairs.
Initially we had a highly efficient and collaborative system that worked well with our European neighbours. Refugees that arrived in Indonesia were processed, provided access to medical services and then given the option of resettling within the Khilafa or transiting to a second country, with the overwhelming majority choosing the later option. Originally these refugees would take the train or bus north to Turkey and then cross the border into Europe for resettlement. After a while though public opinion seemed to shift in Europe, with the Australian refugees labelled as economic migrants rather than climate-change refugees. In a rapid and unexpected turn of events, Greece and Bulgaria closed their borders overnight leading to a massive crisis in Turkey as Australian refugees suddenly found themselves trapped. Though we deployed a rapid response unit to the area to accomodate the now trapped refugees and provide housing, food and shelter, the shock to the Australians led to a growing tension, with a few cases of violence and civil unrest being reported. Currently negotiations are taking place between the Khilafa and European states but in the meantime we’ve seen Australian refugees attempt to transit into Europe through other corridors, between Morocco and Spain or through the more difficult Mediterranean Sea pass.
In the meantime high level talks between officials across Europe and within the Khilafa continue to take place to try and find a solution to this growing humanitarian situation. Though all refugees have been given the opportunity to resettle within the Khilafa, the refusal by the overwhelming majority and their determination to reach Europe has created a stalemate of sorts. Pockets of resentment are starting to grow in some suburbs as citizens grow frustrated at what they perceive to be lazy and arrogant Australians who show no interest in integrating or even participating in local society. Some are even calling for a clampdown on their behaviour which has often run counter to Islamic morals, though has been excused and forgiven by an overly hospitable public. The situation however is untenable in the long run, and with more refugees on their way a solution will have to be found quickly if the state is to maintain a modicum of control.
Eva Alam, the head of the delegation leading talks between European counterparts, is blunt with her assessment:
There are only three real possible outcomes in this situation. The first, and least likely, is that we stop Australians fleeing into Indonesia. This could be achieved by deporting current arrivals back to Australia and deploying our navy to the south to block their entry. This is entirely unethical, immoral and counter to our Islamic values though and would only be entertained if a change in circumstances resulted in the refugees becoming a major security situation. The second outcome, though nearly equally unlikely, is that the refugees resettle within the Khilafa. Though this is in their interest, we know from historical precedent that Australians, despite their geographical location, consider themselves European and the psyche within Australians makes resettlement in a non-European country difficult for them to fathom. The last outcome is that the European states reverse their decision, re-open their borders and allow the Australians into their countries. It’s important to remember in this conversation that the bulk of climate change is due to western states enjoying cheap destructive sources of energy for hundreds of years. It’s also important to remember that for decades Australia was incapable of showing any humanity to refugees while it was the destination of choice for those fleeing for a better life. We won’t allow a repeat of that in Europe. Either they allow Australians to resettle or we’ll be forced to consider whether another region is more deserving of the aid and electricity that we currently provide them. Europe needs to wake up to the new reality and realise that they no longer hold significance on the world stage.