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Australia's refugee population: A statistical snapshot of 2013-14

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Australia's refugee population: A statistical snapshot of 2013-14 Posted 28/11/2014 by Elibritt Karlsen

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Statistics recently published by the Immigration Department reveal that during the 2013—

14 financial year, some 6,500visas were granted to refugees abroad who had applied to be

resettled to Australia. The majority of these people originally fled persecution from

countries such as Afghanistan (2530), Myanmar (1145), and Iraq (830). The Department also

granted 300 refugee category visas to Syrian nationals.

Though the Department’s statistics do not indicate wherethese people were resettled from,

we do know that as at the end of May 2014, some 600 refugees were resettled from

Indonesia and more than 700 from Malaysia. According to the Minister, the majority of

Afghan refugees accepted last year were resettled from countries of first asylum such as

Pakistan or Iran.

Of the 6,500 visas granted to refugees abroad, more than 1000 visas or 16 per cent of the

refugee category visas were granted to women considered at particular risk. However the

number of refugee category visas granted to people who had not yet left their home country

has increased substantially in the last year from 70 to more than 700. This increase might

be explained by the grant of more than 500 visas to locally engaged employees in

Afghanistan who were considered at particular risk of harm as a result of providing

assistance to the Australian Government.

Another interesting development over the last year has been the grant of 245 permanent

visas allocated under the Community Proposal Pilot. This is a program being trialled by the

Department to enable approved community organisations to provide practical support and a

substantial financial contribution towards the cost of humanitarian settlement. Though

these visas were from within, not in addition to, the total 11,000 offshore Humanitarian

Program allocation, it is not currently known how many of these recipients were refugees, as

opposed to humanitarian entrants under the Special Humanitarian Program (SHP).

With respect to refugees already in Australia, a total of 2750 were granted permanent

protection visas during the last financial year. Of these, some 545 were granted to refugees

who travelled to Australia by boat (boat arrivals) and the remaining 2200 were granted to

those who had travelled to Australia by plane (plane arrivals).

The Department’s 2013—14 Annual Report (pp. 111—113) reveals that the vast majority of

boat arrivals granted visas last year had fled persecution from Afghanistan (230—a decrease

from 2,350 the previous year), Stateless (80—a decrease from 470 the previous year), and

Iran (70—a decrease from 1,000 the previous year). In contrast, the refugees who were

granted visas after having arrived in Australia on another visa (such as a visitor or student

visa) were predominantly fleeing from Pakistan (380), Egypt (340), Iran (310), Libya (190)

and China (145) amongst others. Thus, the majority of visa grants to boat arrivals were to

Afghan nationals and Stateless persons while the majority of visa grants to plane arrivals

were to Pakistani and Egyptian nationals. As noted above, the majority of visa grants to

refugees resettled from abroad were to nationals from Afghanistan and Myanmar.

However, that is not a complete picture of the position because there were also

some 390 temporary visas granted to refugees during the year, though these have not been

counted under Australia’s humanitarian program allocation, which was set at 13,750 places

in 2013—14. These temporary visas included temporary protection visas (TPVs) of which

there were only 23 granted due to the Senatedisallowance on 2 December 2013 of the

regulation that re-introduced them, temporary humanitarian concern visas (110) and

temporary humanitarian stay visas (250)—which were used as an alternative to the TPV

when it was no longer available. However, the total number of temporary humanitarian stay

visas granted for the purposes of release from immigration detention has been omitted from

these figures and is thus not currently known.

The Minister also granted 140 visas (a decrease from 435 the previous year) when

exercising his personal intervention power to override an adverse decision of the Refugee

Review Tribunal. Requests for intervention were made by more than 1,800 asylum

seekers. It is not known whether these visas were deducted from the onshore or offshore

component of the Humanitarian Program.

With respect to the number of people claiming asylum, the Department received more than

10,600applications (a decrease from 16,900 the previous year) for protection visas from

asylum seekers in the financial year (though noting that boat arrivals are statutorily deemed

ineligible to apply unless the Minister personally permits them to do so). Of these,

approximately 10,000 were from plane arrivals with the vast majority coming from China

(1,800 an increase from 1,170 the previous year), India (1,200) and Pakistan (980). In

contrast, the majority of protection visa applications lodged by boat arrivals were made by

nationals from Iran (260 a decrease from 1530 the previous year), Stateless (210 a decrease

from 670 the year before) and Vietnam (140 an increase from 40 the previous year). It is not

currently known how many refugee category visa applications were lodged offshore during


Thus, leaving differences in visa outcomes aside, Australia provided protection to close

to 10,000Convention refugees last financial year, the majority having fled persecution from

Afghanistan, Myanmar, Iraq, Pakistan and Egypt.