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International recognition for migration management.



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Philip Ruddock MP MINISTER FOR IMMIGRATION AND MULTICULTURAL AND INDIGENOUS AFFAIRS

Population Change

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Migration Program

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Indigenous Affairs

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MEDIA CENTRE

International Recognition for Migration Management MPS 076/2002

The Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs, Philip Ruddock, said today there was strong international recognition of Australia's stance on migration management issues.

"We have set the benchmark when it comes to managing borders."

"Many countries I visited recently are looking to our programs as a model on which to base the development of their own programs."

Mr Ruddock, who recently returned from an overseas visit to South Africa, Tanzania, Greece, Yugoslavia (Serbia and Kosovo), the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Austria, and England, said claims that Australia's border management strategies have come under international criticism are simply not true.

Government officials, academics and NGO representatives were impressed with the success Australia is having in managing issues associated with a managed legal migration program as well as with people smuggling and unauthorised arrivals.

"A seminar I led in London, attended by senior UK and Irish Government officials, as well as academics, was acknowledged by the audience as very relevant to their own border management issues."

"Throughout my visit there was a general acknowledgment of Australia's expertise in these areas and further acknowledgment of the role Australia plays in the international discussions on refugee issues."

There was also widespread concern that the UNHCR system should focus on genuine refugees and recognise the real concerns of member governments about mixed flows of people, including non-refugees, who are seeking a migration outcome and threatening the viability of the international protection system.

"We have had some success in focusing international attention on the need for change and reform of the operation of the UNHCR and the protection system and this process will continue."

The visit to different countries had provided an opportunity to enhance international cooperation.

"While in South Africa I signed a Joint Ministerial Statement with South Africa providing a framework for mutual cooperation on migration, refugees, irregular migration and people smuggling issues."

"In Yugoslavia I signed an agreement for ongoing cooperation in relation to unlawful movements and agreed to continue a dialogue about reform of the refugee system."

"In Tanzania, I visited a refugee camp, Lukole, on the border of Burundi. Tanzania plays host to an estimated 500,000 UNHCR assisted refugees, originating from four principal neighbouring countries in some 13 refugee camps."

"I indicated to the UNHCR that (as with Canada and the US) we would be ready to resettle some of those identified by the UNHCR as in most need."

These first hand observations have reaffirmed a commitment to Australia's Offshore Refugee and Special Humanitarian Program for resettlement as an essential contribution Australia can make to the international protection system.

22 August 2002

See: Lukole refugee camp, Tanzania (August 2002) - Photos Index of Media Releases