The tragic image of a drowned Syrian child serves as a reminder for the need to stop illegal asylum seeker boats, Australia’s Prime Minister Tony Abbott said on Friday. Tony Abbott said the “very sad” image of the child that was found “tragically” dead on a Turkish beach was a reminder that preserving the lives of asylum seekers was reliant on stopping the boats.
Speaking to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) on Friday, Abbott said Australia wasn’t coming across similar tragic occurrences because the illegal trade of people smuggling had “closed down.”
“I would say, if you want to stop the drownings you’ve got to stop the boats,” Abbott added.
He said that so long as smugglers think they have a chance to successfully place people in Australia, or any other countries, then tragic accidents were going to continue to happen. He said Australia had not had tragedy at sea similar to the Syrian boy since implementing the so-called “hard-line” approach.
“As long as people think they can get here and they can stay here we’ll have the illegal trade … We’ll have the people smugglers in business, and we’ll have the tragedies at sea,” Abbott said. “So if you want to keep people safe you’ve got to stop illegal migration, and that’s what we’ve done.”
Abbott’s comments came after New York Times penned an article criticizing the government’s approach to asylum seekers, calling it inhumane.
However, Liberal Senator Eric Abetz said Australia had already increased refugee intake from Syria and Iraq to 4,400 after the humanitarian crisis in the Middle East worsened. “Stopping the boats allows us to have a fair humanitarian intake and that is what we are achieving,” Abetz said on Friday. (PNA/Xinhua)