June 22, 2014 (SYDNEY) – The Australia government has offered asylum seekers at immigration camps in Southeast Asia nearly $10,000 should they drop their refugee application status and allow to return home.
Australian authorities, the Sydney Morning Herald reported, were offering Iranians and Sudanese AU$7,000 if they dropped their bids for refugee status. Those from Afghanistan would reportedly get $4,000 while another AU$3,300 was for refugees from Pakistan, Nepal and Myanmar.
The move has reportedly sparked off outrage from refugee campaigners who fear these asylum seekers could face persecution in their home countries.
However, under the previous labor administration, in office until last September, the payments were reportedly much lower, ranging from AU$1,500 to AU$2,000.
Meanwhile, the move by the Australian government has also been criticised by campaigners for refugee rights and the Australian Green party, whose leader Christine Milne called the payments "bribes", AFP reported.
Australia has toughened its policy on asylum-seekers in recent years, with those arriving on unauthorised boats now refused residency in Australia even if they are deemed refugees.
Since the policy was introduced, however, more asylum-seekers have reportedly chosen to voluntarily return to their country of origin while the number of people attempting to reach Australia by boat has dried up, with no boats arriving for six months.
In 2012, a study conducted by international policy research agency (STATT), found out that 90% of refugees from Sudan who arrived in Australia over the past decade wanted to return home.
Many of those surveyed said they experienced isolation and reported being discriminated against, particularly when it came to employment and housing.