Helping our Neglected and Forgotten Brethren
Raising awareness of the the plight of Pakistani christian refugees
By Tek Chong
Attending our previous home church Wesley Methodist in Melaka last year we were introduced to a Pakistani Christian, a professional who speaks English, who has applied for re-settlement in Australia. His story began when Christians were unjustly treated and harassed in Pakistan, living in fear and uncertainty, so he felt it was unsafe to remain. When he heard that there is a United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) in Bangkok he went there to apply for refugee status.
DISCRIMINATION AGAINST CHRISTIANS
Unfortunately he met with hostile treatment by the officials there. Because he was a Christian they deliberately put him far behind the normal queue. What would usually take months was delayed to years. Because of the uncertainty of his refugee status in Bangkok, he applied to visit Malaysia and continue his application to the UNHCR there. Unfortunately the UNHCR office staff was also prejudiced against Christians and again they delayed his process. His family was able to join him in Melaka.
HELP FROM CHRISTIANS
He found Malaysian Christians willing to extend fellowship and hospitality. They provided education for his children, Christian bosses provided allowances, etc. He found out that Australia is one country where they still take in asylum seekers on humanitarian grounds and if he had a sponsor from Australia the process could be shortened considerably. We did some research with the help of a Christian migration lawyer and found out that I qualified to be his sponsor.* After we checked with the Melaka church where he attends to confirm his case was genuine, we put in a sponsorship for the family. We got a reply about a month later that their application is considered “valid” and further processing would continue. So the first hurdle was crossed. But after processing when I received the result, he was refused. Of the four conditions for acceptance, he failed one. The three conditions he qualified were: he was subjected to persecution, he has an Australian proposer and there is no country available to resettle him. The condition why he is refused is: Australia does not have the capacity to provide for permanent settlement of all applicants at this time. We are now working on how to fulfil this last condition and pray that God would help us so they can start a new life in Australia.
We have formed a small group of concerned persons to see how we can help more refugees like them. We may not be able to help many but maybe one by one….
*A sponsor needs to be an Australian citizen or permanent resident. Depending on how the applicant is classified, he or the Australian govt. may have to bear the financial responsibilities of paying for the airfares for travel to Australia and to provide accommodation for a certain period. See “Form 681 Refugee and special humanitarian proposal” from the Department of Immigration and Border Protection.
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