Training looks at pros and cons of accepting refugees

By Nefertiti Matatia ,

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REFUGEES ON THE AGENDA: Participants at the meeting held at Tanoa Tusitala Hotel.

REFUGEES ON THE AGENDA: Participants at the meeting held at Tanoa Tusitala Hotel.

It is vital that Pacific Island countries understand the pros and cons of allowing refugees to settle in their their countries.

But first of all understanding the term refugee, their background and reasons of migrating are crucial to island nations in the Pacific region. 

This is the ultimate aim of the Refugee Protection and Mixed Migration workshop held in Apia this week. 

The workshop aims to create a framework for the the Pacific region to be able to understand the effects of giving the green light for refugees and the reasons behind their relocation. 

During his presentation, Nai Jit Lam, Deputy Regional Representative for the United Nations Refugee Agency, said nearly 90 percent of refugees in the world are hosted by developing countries.

Lam added that some of the main reasons people are forced to flee their homes are armed conflict, persecution and natural disasters.

Hence, the training aims to better equip Pacific nations to counteract the increase in refugees migrating everywhere in the world looking for a place to settle.

And this is a bonus for the many different representatives who are present in this five-day workshop held at the Tanoa Tusitala Hotel. 

Tyrone, who is  representing the Samoa Airport Authority, believes this is a good training for his sector to find ways to properly assist them on how to deal with refugees and things they need to implement, the procures and processes. 

So if any refugee shows up at the airport, how will they be able to identify them?

An official from the Ministry of the Prime Minister and Cabinet expressed his gratitude and acknowledged the workshop has given him a different perspective on refugee resettlement.

 “I have learnt a lot of things from this workshop by having ideas on how to deal with refugees. At first I thought that refugees are bad people but now it is different story,” he said.

Another participant, who did not want to be named, said this was a very good initiative especially in trying to develop a strategy where the authorities would be able to identify a refugee should they enter the country and what procedures to take.

The participant believes it will be very difficult for the people of Samoa to accept refugees for many reasons.

“In terms of Samoa, in my own point of view, we don’t have the capacity to accommodate refugees. There is a big risk for Samoa if we are going to accept refugees.

“Plus there is no facility. Where would we get the money to accommodate the refugees? Plus we also need to have a rule to hold the refugees accountable. We need to have a legislation which is focused on the refugees coming into the country.

 “In my opinion we should not accept any refugees. As look at the bombing of London. Those were the people that came in as refugees then later on they became terrorists. We need to be open-minded about the consequences of bringing these people in.

“We also need to get the experience of Nauru and P.N.G on the impact of refugees,” the participant added.

His main concern is the safety of Samoa.

“The only thing I am concerned about is our border security. When the refugees arrive, what we are going to do with it?”

© Samoa Observer 2016

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