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Ahwazi child refugee dies of thirst trying to reach Australia

Three year old Ahwazi Arab boy Moustafa Khaled Bayt Lofteh died as a result of severe thirst as his family attempted to flee persecution in Iran for refuge in Australia via Indonesia, according to the Democratic Solidarity Party of Al-Ahwaz.

The captain lost navigation for five days during which the passengers exhausted the water and food on board. They were eventually rescued by Australian authorities.

Moustafa's father is an Arabic teacher from Alkhafagyeh (Susangerd) who fled the country when the regime dismissed him from his job. He was teaching Arabic and English to deprived Arab youths in his neighbourhood without official permission. Such acts are viewed with deep suspicion by the authorities who have banned Arabic cultural and language organisations. Five Ahwazi Arabs are currently facing execution for forming the Al-Hewar (Dialogue) group, which promoted Arabic language and culture among youths.

Daniel Brett, chairman of the British Ahwazi Friendship Society (BAFS), said: "This tragic death demonstrates the extraordinary lengths refugees have to go to in order to get sanctuary in a safe country. Moustafa's family were desperate enough to take the long and difficult journey to Australia.

"Others have attempted to reach Europe, but there are few safe routes and most methods involve paying criminal syndicates involved in drugs, arms and people trafficking to cross borders.

"The Iraqi government has repeatedly broken international law by returning refugees to Iran where they have been incarcerated on their arrival and often tortured. The Syrian regime also co-operates with the Iranian authorities in forcibly returning UNHCR-registered Ahwazi Arab refugees, often with the assistance of the UNHCR's office in Damascus which was infiltrated by the Syrian intelligence services. Syria is now too dangerous to pass through due to conflict. The difficulties in reaching Europe make Australia a more attractive destination, despite the challenges involved in travelling such a long distance.

"Unless the international system supports the speedy resettlement of refugees to places where they are safe and supported, people will continue to die seeking refuge and criminals will continue to profit from their misery."