For the sake of the families

And another NZ / Naura / Tampa Story, also in the SMH. They must be trying to embarass the Howard govt in the election year. Similar story, but also a good read.

Some highlights/teaser quotes:

New Zealand has created new lives for the refugees that Australia abandoned to the Pacific solution

Only five months ago, Bushra Al Aridhi expected to die in the place she calls the jail – Australia’s offshore processing centre on Nauru.

Today, she is pregnant with her second child and beginning a new life, with the husband she feared she would never see again, in a timber house overlooking Wellington Harbour in New Zealand’s North Island.

(UberKiwi’s note: I lived in Wellinngton for two years. It sucks. The weather is crap – its is either raining, or blowing a gale, or both. Sometimes you get a nice day – in the city, but everyone lives in the hills surrounding Wellington where its damp and misty and 5 degrees cooler than the city. Freeze your arse off. No room in the hills – all the house have been in-filled – your back patio is someone elses fron decking, and you park your car at the bottom of a hill, and then hike up to your house. Apologies to my family who live in Wellington.).

Bushra and her daughter, Hawra, spent two years and three months on Nauru, detained under Australia’s Pacific solution, a warning of what others might expect if they tried to to get into Australia illegally. Meanwhile, her husband, Ahmed, endured a miserable freedom in Brisbane; he had his liberty, having been granted refugee status and a temporary protection visa (TPV) by Australia, but under the Howard Government’s hardline policy, he had no prospect of ever being reunited with his wife and daughter.

While Australia has gone to extreme lengths to separate families in a bid to shut down the people-smuggling trade (denying, for example, any prospect of family reunion to those who came by boat after the Tampa), New Zealand has gone to extraordinary lengths to put families back together and give them a future.

Aside from the 131 asylum seekers New Zealand almost instantly accepted from the Tampa in 2001, it has quietly taken about 270 asylum seekers from Australia’s offshore processing centres at Nauru and Manus Island.

They are being reunited with more than 360 immediate family members after New Zealand missions to Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran. Reuniting refugee families represents one of the most ambitious, delicate, challenging and complex family reunion projects ever undertaken by New Zealand immigration.

Regarding Nauru detention:
For Bushra and others interviewed by the Herald, Nauru became the jail for broken spirits. The stifling heat and lack of fresh water, combined with the numbing uncertainty and the regular disappointment of rejection, aged their bodies prematurely and twisted their minds.

“It was a horrible situation,” says Sajjad Sarwari, who has been reunited with his brother Ali’s family in Hamilton, south of Auckland. “We should not call Nauru a detention centre or a camp. It is a hellhole. I am really sorry for those who are still there, worried about them.”
Latifa Ali, reunited with her husband, Jawed, in Hamilton (UberKiwi note: Hamilton is not bad – bloody hot and humid, but better than Wellington. Apolgies now to my family members who live in Hamilton and Wellington), says the worst moments for young mothers were having to wait for a bucket of salt water to wash their babies, and being rejected for asylum – not once but twice – despite the fact that their husbands’ claims had already been accepted.

Although, the Government insists the women were assessed and rejected as refugees according to the UNHCR’s refugee test, the UNHCR has consistently argued that spouses and minor children of recognised refugees should be given refugee status.
Each of the families expresses gratitude to New Zealand and Susan Harris Rimmer, the UNHCR official who put their case to the NZ Government. Bushra reveals that she has conceived since being reunited. The baby is due in six months and, if it is a girl, they will call it Susan.
Ahmed says he would like to return to Australia to visit friends and thank those who employed and helped him during his three years in Brisbane, but not while the Howard Government is in power.

Though the couple will be entitled to New Zealand citizenship in three years and therefore be able to settle legally in Australia, they insist their loyalty will always be to New Zealand and their future is there. “This country has given me, my family, a new life, a good life,” beams Bushra Al Aridhi. “Freedom! Freedom!”


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