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Govt must help students in limbo following 'Arab spring'


The Australian Greens will in the next sitting of parliament call on the Gillard government to help students in Australia who are from countries caught up in the Arab uprising.


"I have given a notice of motion that in the new Senate on July 4 the Greens will call on the government to extend on humanitarian grounds the visas of students from Libya, Bahrain and Syria," the Greens' immigration spokesperson, Sen. Sarah Hanson-Young, said today.


"These people should be allowed to stay, even if their student visas have expired, until it is safe for them to return home.


"We also know that Libyan students in Australia are in a bind because they cannot access their bank details as their accounts are frozen due to international sanctions, and they are also unable to work more than 20 hours a week while studying.


"These students should be allowed to work or access alternative financial support and be offered counselling to help them cope with any trauma they or their families back home may be experiencing.


"The Greens also urge the government to use the precedent set by the former Hawke government in 1989 when it gave temporary visa extensions to around 28,500 Chinese students in Australia after the Tiananmen Square massacre.


"Australia can and should help these students from restive Arab countries, because in addition to joining the international community in supporting their struggle for democracy, we can show their future leaders the generosity that comes from one of the world's oldest democracies."

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