25 April 2012


In a March 2012 visit to Afghanistan, the Edmund Rice Centre research team confirmed the death of Mohammad Hossain, the death of Shaid Ahmadi and the disappearance and presumed death of Ghulam Payador.

The team also met and interviewed 31 returned asylum seekers from Australia. These documented interviews confirmed that 29 of these 31 are living in extreme danger

The visiting team also met with the leaders of Aschiana, one of Afghanistan’s largest NGOs with responsibility for displaced children in the 45 camps that now ring Kabul, who reported that they had found a 17-year old boy who was sent back from Australia last year. He was found by Aschiana, staff, living on the street, homeless and ill

Another deportee survived a rocket being fired through his house. His wife and his father were killed instantly. He lives now in hiding in Kabul - along with his six children – all under the age of nine. The deportees are being actively targeted for having left their country, because they are seen as being ‘favourable to the West’. Many are falsely held to have converted to Christianity, and others are targeted out of a fear that they may have been sent back to fight alongside the international forces

Clearly it would seem that decisions taken by the Australian authorities regarding these asylum seekers have failed to take into account the accuracy and independence of the advice and information received about the level of security for civilians in Afghanistan before their return.

In returning rejected asylum seekers to danger, the Australian Government is in breach of its obligations under the 1951 Refugee Convention. In view of the case of the 17 year-old youth described above, and of the risks to the safety of the children and families of rejected asylum seekers, it would seem that Australia is also in breach of ts obligations under the Convention of the Rights of the Child.

Based on the research carried out by the Edmund Rice Centre, Edmund Rice International has made a submission to the Committee on the Rights of the Child which will review Australia’s compliance with its obligations under the Convention of the Rights of the Child when it meets in Geneva next month.


National Recociliation Week is celebrated across Australia each year between 27 May and 3 June. The dates commemorate two significant milestones in the reconciliation journey:-

- the anniversary of the successful 1967 referendum which saw over 90 per cent of Australians vote to give the Commonwealth the power to make laws for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and recognise them in the national census, and

- the 1992 High Court Mabo decision which legally recognised that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have a special relationship to the land that existed prior to colonisation and still exists today. This recognition paved the way for land rights called Native Title.

The theme for this year is Let’s Talk Recognition which has a focus on how Australians can better recognise each other, and recognise the contributions, cultures and histories of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Some suggestions for marking the day include
· Hosting a BBQ and cooking with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander spices
· Playing Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander music in your workplace or classroom
· Starting a recognition wall (link this to the praise people action item)
· Purchasing an artwork for your office, school or university.

Visit the National Recociliation Week website for more information and suggestions about the day.


The world is facing a worsening youth employment crisis, warns the International Labour Organization (ILO).

Young people are three times more likely to be unemployed than adults and over 75 million youth worldwide are looking for work, while more than 150 million young people are living on less than $1.25 a day. The ILO has warned of a “scarred” generation of young workers facing a dangerous mix of high unemployment, increased inactivity and precarious work in developed countries, as well as persistently high working poverty in the developing world.
The most recent report from the ILO points to collective frustration among youth as being a contributing factor to the recent growth of protest movements around the world, as it becomes increasingly difficult for young people to find anything other than part-time and temporary work. The report adds that in the Middle East and North Africa, for example, over the past 20 years approximately one in four youth have been unemployed despite progress made in the education of girls and boys.

The report also cites difficult trends in Ireland, where the youth unemployment rate (which had risen from 9 per cent in 2007 to 27.5 per cent in 2010) could have been more than 19.3 percentage points higher if those who were either “hiding out” in the education system, or waiting at home for prospects to improve, were included in the analysis.

On the other hand, young people in low-income economies are trapped in a vicious cycle of working poverty. The high employment-to-population ratios of youth in the poorest regions mean the poor have no choice but work. “There are by far more young people around the world that are stuck in circumstances of working poverty than are without work or looking for work”, the report states.

The report also highlighted the fact that between 2008 and 2009, the number of unemployed youth increased by an unprecedented 4.5 million worldwide. (compared to the average increase of the pre-crisis period of less than 100,000 persons per year)

The youth employment crisis is a threat to social cohesion and political stability, and has profound consequences for education, migration policies and the right to fair working conditions.

Youth employment will be one of the main themes of the annual International Labour Conference scheduled to take place in Geneva in June.


In 2000, 189 nations made a promise to free people from extreme poverty and multiple deprivations. This pledge became the eight Millennium Development Goals to be achieved by 2015. In September 2010, the world recommitted itself to accelerate progress towards these goals.

The MDGs have been broken down further to seventeen targets. Progress towards these targets has been uneven. One piece of positive news to emerge earlier this year is that the world has met the Millennium Development Goal target of halving the proportion of people without access to safe drinking water, well in advance of the 2015 deadline.

According to UNICEF and the World Health Organization. Between 1990 and 2010, over two billion people gained access to improved drinking water sources, such as piped supplies and protected wells. Nevertheless a safe water supply remains a challenge in many parts of the world.

A summary of progress towards each of the targets can be found here (click on each MDG listed on the right of the page to view progress towards each of the targets)

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