The Refugee Council of Australia (RCOA) is the central, coordinating body representing both refugees and the organisations providing support for asylum seekers. The Council works to influence government refugee policies and to educate the community about asylum seekers, refugees and displaced persons. The RCOA works with local, national and international agencies to uphold the rights of individuals who seek refuge in Australia.
A refugee is a person who leaves their country to escape war, persecution, or natural disaster. During war, people are forced to flee their homes and property, which makes it impossible for them to fend for themselves. Sometimes there is no happily ever after solution to be found and many are forced to seek refuge in other countries.
To escape persecution and violence is the leading plea of asylum seekers. Past events such as the bloodshed in Rwanda show just how horrendous it can get. Today, the Madaenens in Iraq face near-extinction. They claim to be subjected to forced conversions, torture and murder at the hands Islamic extremists. The indigenous Mandaic community once numbered nearly 70,000, but due to war and violent religious oppression, the population has scattered, seeking refuge across the globe.
Climate displacement has also contributed to the increased numbers of refugees. Many families are being forced from their homes due to environmental degradation and climate change. The severe flooding in Pakistan is one example, but we need not travel so far from home to see environmental disaster.
The island state of Kiribati lies just off the coast of Australia. Already a victim of rising sea waters, the Kiribati government has been preparing its citizens for resettlement among neighbouring countries. Two islands have already been swallowed by the sea and lack of fresh drinking water has caused many of Kiribati’s villagers to relocate.
For whatever reasons people are driven from their homes, refugees are an ongoing humanitarian concern. The Refugee Council of Australia is working to provide for the ever changing needs of the world’s displaced persons. The RCOA strives to keep the human approach in Australia’s humanitarian aid for refugees.