Azaranica is a non-biased news aggregator on Hazaras and Hazarajat...The main aim is to promote understanding and respect for cultural identities by highlighting the realities they are facing on daily basis...Hazaras have been the victim of active persecution and discrimination and one of the reasons among many has been the lack of information, awareness and disinformation...... To further awareness against violence, disinformation and discrimination, we have launched a sister Blog for youths and youths are encouraged to share their stories and opinions; Young Pens

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Surveys in Pakistan and Afghanistan aim to deter asylum-seekers

BY: PAUL MALEY, NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT From: The Australian November 07, 2011 12:00AM

THE Australian government has conducted more than 6000 one-on-one interviews in Pakistan and Afghanistan in the largest research project on prospective asylum-seekers ever undertaken.

Working through locally engaged contractors, the research -- commissioned by Customs and Border Protection and conducted throughout last year -- profiled would-be asylum-seekers and studied how they obtained information.

The findings were used to run a large public information campaign aimed at deterring asylum-seekers from trying to travel to Australia by boat.

Most of the research was conducted in and around the Pakistani city of Quetta -- a reflection of the fact that most of the Afghan Hazaras coming to Australia by boat do not start their journey in Afghanistan.

In fact, many are the children of Afghan Hazara refugees and have never been to Afghanistan.

The survey investigated literacy levels, demographic information, the degree of internet access and the reach of television and radio around the Afghan-Pakistan border.


"People consume information, predominantly it seems, from family members and community leaders," a government source familiar with the survey's findings told The Australian.

In an effort to "counter-message" the people-smugglers' sales pitch -- that a boat trip to Australia was a "guaranteed migration outcome" -- the government funded radio and television spots in Pakistan, and brochures warning of the dangers, as well as visual advertising.

"We were able to identify a bus that goes up and down the main road in Quetta, so we put advertising material on the bus," the source said.

The research mirrors similar campaigns undertaken in Indonesia, Malaysia and Sri Lanka.

Details of the contracts published on the government's AusTender website indicate the scale of the project.

One contractor, whom The Australian has agreed not to name so as not to endanger local staff in the field, was paid $397,600 for the survey work.

Another was paid $142,125.

The contractors who carried out the survey were chosen because they were former employees of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, The Australian has been told. "They were used to working with governments and had the capacity to operate in places like Pakistan and Afghanistan without getting themselves into serious trouble and without embarrassing the Australian government," the source said.

"That's probably the key sensitivity here: we don't want to talk in too much detail about what we're up to, essentially for fear of endangering the contractors."

The research was sometimes dangerous, with staff in Afghanistan accosted by the Taliban, or in once case briefly kidnapped by local bandits.

Despite the sensitivities of the issue, the campaign was conducted with the consent of the host governments.

As a result of the research, the Australian government formed relationships with community leaders in the hope of discouraging asylum-seekers from journeying to Australian by boat.

"These are people who have a small-p pastoral care for the local community," the source said of those chosen to participate in the campaign.

The strategy was similar to one adopted in Sri Lanka, where Catholic priests in the coastal town of Negombo were recruited.

"Catholic priests are not too keen on their parishioners drowning, so they were quite a useful means to communicate a message," the source said.

The Australian

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