Half of all Timorese citizens have fled their homes at some point in their lives, so my country knows well the horrors of displacement. But we also know that with perseverance, it is possible to rebuild lives and communities.
From his own story of exile, to that of his people, in this powerful lecture Nobel Laureate José Ramos-Horta AC will reflect on the humanitarian, moral and political challenges raised by the plight of refugees and other vulnerable migrants.
Too many refugees have been stuck without meaningful solutions for far too long, their lives in limbo. Yet, experience shows that when given the opportunity, refugees and migrants enrich and contribute to their host countries with their resilience, skills and knowledge.
Countries like Australia, New Zealand, the United States and Canada have been shaped by people fleeing poverty and wars in Europe to build new lives across the world. Mr Ramos-Horta AC argues that today, these countries should again open their arms to fellow human beings fleeing the catastrophes of the Middle East and Africa.
As one of a generation of Timorese leaders who fled into exile, Mr Ramos-Horta AC will also reflect on his own experience:
If they have nowhere else to go, if they are unwanted in rich Australia, we share with them our homes, for they are people like us, poor, homeless, persecuted. Timor-Leste must never turn its back on people fleeing hunger and wars. We too were refugees once, we fled our country, we fled poverty and persecution and we were sheltered by kind, caring people, who taught us about solidarity, about humanity.
The Distinguished Lecture is a partnership between the Grand Challenge on Refugees & Migrants and the Diplomacy Training Program.