Refugees &
A joint statement by Melbourne churches has claimed that Monday's riots at the Woomera refugee detention centre were a consequence of flawed policy about which the Federal Government has been consistently warned.
    Liz Curran of the Catholic Archdiocesan Commission for Justice, Development and Peace (CCJDP) said: "Whilst we do not condone the violence of yesterday's disturbance these are actions consistent with desperate people. We have for some time warned the government that lengthy delays, poor processes and the lack of transparency would force people into volatile and desperate actions."
    The statement about the refugees' violent escape and setting alight buildings at the detention centre in the South Australia desert the was issued last night by the CCJDP, the Anglican Brotherhood of St Laurence, Catholic Social Services Victoria, and the Baptist Union of Australia.
    Rev Tim Costello of the Baptist Union said he was ashamed when he visited Woomera in June. He said: "It is important that we put the plight of these people in the context of world conflict, subsequent displacement and the responsibilities we face as a nation state to share the burden of refugee intakes with poor nations who currently take most of the world's refugees."
    The agencies also resented the Government's perceived obstruction of their own role in defending the refugees: "For the government to threaten the funding of agencies for advocating for these people is not only undemocratic but also demonstrates a lack of understanding of the role of Churches to bear witness and expose the human side of the story."
30 Aug 00

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