RISE eX-detainees’ Statement – “Refugee Week” or “Refugee Day” reduced to a poverty porn circus where non-refugees would love to digest an exotic plate of food cooked by refugees while listening to a patronizing “emotional” story. (19 June 2024)

At present, there are over 110 million forcibly displaced people worldwide, with over 36 million refugees among them. Over 1.9 million children were born as refugees. Global military expenditure in 2023, jumped to a record high of $2440bn.

“Refugee Week” or “Refugee Day,” was originally initiated by UNHCR, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees – a set up, controlled and led by mostly white, non-refugee entities.

On this day refugee saviour enterprises operate like marketing machines to fill up their monetary pot to support their thriving careers while exploiting our lives. Do we still want this vulture refugee industry capitalist day to continue and is this really about us?

It is hardly shocking for us that the UNHCR, during World “Refugee Week/Day,” runs a patronising PR circus in the refugee sector, setting the standard for saviour complexes.

In so-called Australia, racist refugee policies continue, where many eX-detainees who arrived 30 years ago have still not gotten citizenship, and/or have no access to humanitarian pathways for family reunion. As a result, 1000s of eX-detainee families arriving in Australia – kids and adult family members are blocked from receiving proper access to social security and many other support services to build a future, including Austudy or HECS. Each eX-detainee refugee needs to spend over $10,000 to bring family members to Australia. This is institutionalised destitution of the eX-detainee refugee community with the complicity and complacency of the refugee industry.

Australian detention centres are torture factories and have caused irrevocable harm to detention survivors. Let’s not forget all refugee detainees who have come by boat and have been held in concentration camps – are people of colour! Has “celebrating” world refugee week or world refugee day changed any of this?

Add to this cycle of torture, most recently, the Australian government has subcontracted a US prison operator accused of ‘gross negligence’ to run offshore refugee detention camps.

What you can do instead of joining this circus
Centre and amplify eX-detainee voices—not just to hear their stories but to be directed by eX-detainees – particularly voices within platforms self-determined by eX-detainees themselves.

RISE eX-detainees