Stranded abroad, Australians lodge UN petition against government for ‘right to return home’
A group of Australian citizens representing tens of thousands of people who have been stranded overseas by border closures and flight caps, some since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, are taking their complaint against the Australian government to the United Nations Human Rights Committee, arguing they have been denied the basic human right to return home.
In February 2020 Australia pre-empted the World Health Organization and declared that Covid-19 was a pandemic, setting out drastic measures to contain the spread of the virus. The country closed its external borders and caps were set to limit the number of Australians who could enter. It is one of the few countries in the world to have imposed such strict restrictions.
But one year later, and with those restrictions still in place, many Australians are unable to return home despite the prime minister’s promise to have all stranded overseas citizens back by Christmas 2020.
Many say they are in dire straits. Some have lost their jobs, have little savings left and are forced to take out loans to survive. Others are either sick themselves or need to care for a loved one who is seriously or terminally ill. Others simply want to be reunited with their families.
According to official figures from Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) up to 40,000 Australians based overseas are registered as wanting to return urgently. Of these, 5,000 are classed by the government as “vulnerable”.
Three Australian citizens who have been stranded overseas for months are now taking matters into their own hands.
Last week they launched legal action by petitioning the United Nations Human Rights Committee in Geneva to challenge the Australian government’s policy, which they say violates human rights law…..read more