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Australia helps Afghanistan build better borders.



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Philip Ruddock MP MINISTER FOR IMMIGRATION AND MULTICULTURAL AND INDIGENOUS AFFAIRS

Australia Helps Afghanistan Build Better Borders

MPS 25/2003

The Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs Philip Ruddock and the Afghan Deputy Defence Minister, General Atiqullah Baryalai, today signed an agreement on the development of a border control system for Afghanistan.

Under the agreement, A Memorandum of Understanding on Issues Relating to Irregular Migration and People Smuggling, both countries have agreed on a range of bilateral initiatives aimed at increasing their capacity for border management and the prevention of illegal migration.

As part of Australia's assistance, Mr Ruddock announced that the Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs had recently finalised arrangements to provide one million visa labels for use by Afghanistan's consular offices around the world.

The first of these visa labels was today issued to Mr Ruddock by an official from the Afghan Embassy, and will be used by the minister when he next visits Afghanistan.

Welcoming the initiatives, General Baryalai thanked Australia for its generous and continuous assistance towards the reconstruction and capacity building of Afghanistan. He also acknowledged the effective role of Australia in the campaign against terrorism in Afghanistan.

'It is important that Australia and Afghanistan work together to increase our capacity to put in place arrangements for legal, managed migration that can serve the national interests of both countries,' Mr Ruddock said.

'The initiatives announced today are further examples of the close and ongoing cooperative relationship between the governments of Afghanistan and Australia.

'Australia has committed almost $60 million in humanitarian and technical aid to Afghanistan since September 2001, including the recent commitment of $4.9 million to the UNHCR and UNICEF to support Afghan refugees still living in Pakistan and those returning to Afghanistan,' Mr Ruddock said.

6 May 2003