Former refugee calls for great consideration

Afeif Ismail believes refugees add to Australia’s diversity.
Picture: Martin Kennealey   d455707
Afeif Ismail believes refugees add to Australia’s diversity. Picture: Martin Kennealey d455707

SUDANESE-born Australian Afeif Ismail moved to the western suburbs in 2003 with his family after fleeing his home and spending three years as a refugee in Egypt.

The poet, author and human rights activist was granted a humanitarian visa to Australia after the country was taken over by Islamic ideology in a military coup.

Mr Ismail, who works for the Autism Association of WA in Shenton Park, said he escaped a country that had lost democracy, where he was arrested and beaten and watched other people being tortured just for speaking against military forces.

After arriving in Australia, he met Curtin Greens candidate Viv Glance, who helped him with his writing in English every week.

“Writing is my mission in life,” he said.

“Wherever I travel, I look for people with similar interests. The harvest is four produced plays, four books of poetry, one book of short stories and three books of poetry ready for brave publishers.”

This week is Refugee Week, which raises awareness of the issues affecting refugees and celebrates their contribution to Australian society.

Mr Ismail said he encouraged Australians to oppose fear-mongering campaigns about asylum seekers and instead consider why people were seeking asylum.

“For myself and others from Sudan, it was when your home becomes a prison cell and every step you take feels like walking through a minefield, or your village burns to ashes, or some evil men from government-funded militias force other men to watch as they rape their mothers, daughters and sisters in front of their helpless crying eyes,” he said.

“That is more than enough reason to flee in hope of finding shelter and safety, even if it means crossing the desert barefoot or crossing oceans by any means.”

Mr Ismail said according to the Human Hights declaration, it was not a crime to seek asylum.

“Australia needs to meet its obligations as a signatory to the international laws. Australia is a multicultural country, and refugees only add to its diversity,” he said.

“Diversity creates new dimensions and expands our horizons as people.”