This controversial Australian movie aims to deter refugees from entering the country
Australia, which has accepted thousands of refugees from Afghanistan in recent years, has issued a controversial move to dissuade others from seeking refuge within its borders.
The country's Immigration Department commissioned a television movie, The Journey, which depicts the harsh realities that face refugees who pay to be transported to the country by boat.
The fictional movie follows a group of Afghan asylum-seekers as they encounter smugglers, treacherous waters and inhumane conditions on their journey to Australia.
According to the Guardian, The Journey cost AUS $6million (€4.4million) to produce and distribute.
It has been screened on two different channels in Afghanistan, the world's second-largest source of refugees in 2015, after Syria.
It was previously broadcast in Iran and Iraq in February and Pakistan in mid-March.
The movie will be broadcast in five languages, Farsi, Dari, Arabic, Urdu and Pashto, but not in English.
Put It Out There Pictures, who produced the film, says on its website that the movie aims to inform people “about the futility of investing in people smugglers, the perils of the trip, and the hardline policies that await them if they do reach Australian waters”.
The Australian Department of Immigration has said that "telemovies are a proven way to reach and influence the target audience" and they described the reaction to the movie as largely positive.
However, The Journey has come under criticism from some audiences.
Phil Glendenning, president of the Refugee Council of Australia, said after the film was announced: “I don’t think the government understands why people are on the move if they think a TV drama will be a deterrent.”
Australia has recently introduced stricter immigration policies which have seen the number of Afghanis and other legitimate asylum seekers attempting to get to Australia by boat drastically decline.
The government also has distributed ads carrying somber warnings.
Afghans make up the largest percentage of asylum-seekers arriving in Australia by boat. More than 7,200 Afghans resettled in the country from 2008 to 2013, according to data collected by Australia's Parliament.