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Hill applauds work of UNHCR, Outlines challenges it will face



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MEDIA RELEASE SENATOR ROBERT HILL LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION IN THE SENATE SHADOW MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS Tuesday, November 5 Canberra

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HILLĀ· APPLAUDS WORK OF UNHCR. OPTI.TNKS CHAT.T.ENGES IT WILL FACE

The Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs, Senator Robert Hill, today applauded the work of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and outlined some of the challenges the body could expect to face in coming years.

Senator Hill made his comments at a ceremony in Canberra to mark the 40th anniversary of the founding of the UNHCR.

He said the need for the UNHCR was unlikely to diminish, and that it would face many more challenges, possibly including the mass movement of populations from the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe to the West.

Senator Hill said questions surrounding the definition of refugees and the circumstances in which such people were entitled to UNHCR help had led some states to become more restrictive.

"It is obviously a matter the international community must resolve," Senator Hill said.

He said the UNHCR would be increasingly required to take on new roles, as was demonstrated in the Gulf with the Kurds.

"More effort needs to be devoted to ensuring that the mandate for the UNHCR is clear and relevant to current international

conditions, and that states understand their obligations in these circumstances," Senator Hill said.

He said the activities of the UNHCR were being curtailed by the unpredictable nature of its funding, and it was hoped the current evaluation of the UNHCR would provide a solution to this problem.

Senator Hill said more international attention needed to be devoted to areas which had the potential to alleviate the refugee problem.

These areas included the need to avert new flows of refugees by identifying and preventing conditions likely to create refugee problems, and the establishment of conditions in home states which would allow refugees to voluntarily return.

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Enquiries: Senator Hill or Mark Batistich on (06) 277 3170

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