Dozens of Rohingya migrants pack the deck of a boat found adrift off the coast of Thailand in the Andaman Sea on May 14, 2015. (AFP)
Prime Minister Tony Abbott has ruled out Australia resettling any Rohingya refugees, warning that asylum seekers who take to boats must not be rewarded with a new life in a Western country.
“Nope, nope, nope,” Abbott told reporters Thursday when asked if Australia would resettle any of the thousands of Rohingya Muslims fleeing persecution in Myanmar and Bangladeshis landing on shores of Southeast Asian countries.
“We are not going to do anything that will encourage people to get on boats. If we do the slightest thing to encourage people to get on the boats, this problem will get worse, not better,” he added.
Australia is a signatory to the United Nations Refugee Convention and is one of the world’s most generous countries on a per capita basis in taking in refugees, resettling 13,750 a year. But it refuses to accept asylum seekers who attempt to reach its shores by boat.
“Our role is to do everything we humanly can to stop people smuggling and the best way to do that is to make it absolutely crystal clear that if you get on a leaky boat, you aren’t going to get what you want, which is a new life in a Western country,” Abbott said.