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Douglas Wood's rescuers given safety in Australia.



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Senator Chris Evans Minister for Immigration and Citizenship

Douglas Wood's rescuers given safety in Australia

Saturday 14 March 2009

Two Iraqi service personnel who assisted in securing the release of Douglas Wood in 2005 have been resettled in Australia after concerns were raised about their safety.

The Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Senator Chris Evans, said today that the two soldiers were granted permanent refugee visas under Australia’s humanitarian program after an assessment of their applications found they were in grave and imminent danger.

‘There were genuine fears for the safety of these two soldiers because of the role they played in Mr Wood’s rescue,’ Senator Evans said.

The two men had been in hiding in the Middle East after fleeing Iraq. Both arrived safely in Australia this week.

The Minister was alerted to the plight of the two servicemen after Mr Wood raised concerns about their safety late last month and acted immediately to offer assistance.

‘The Australian Government recognises the contribution that the Iraqi service personnel made in securing the release of Douglas Wood,’ Senator Evans said.

‘As soon as Mr Wood alerted the Government of his interest in assisting the servicemen to seek refuge in Australia, immigration officials responded swiftly.’

Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) officials met Mr Wood on 24 February to outline the immigration options available to his rescuers.

Applications for the two soldiers were subsequently lodged and due to the nature of their individual circumstances, the assessment of the men’s claims was fast-tracked.

Once all the health and security checks were completed, they were granted emergency rescue visas to allow their immediate resettlement in Australia.

‘All the necessary standard checks were expedited to ensure the prompt resolution of this matter,’ Senator Evans said.

‘The lives of these men were assessed as being in imminent danger so it was critical their claims were processed as quickly as possible.’

The Iraqi men will receive the assistance provided to all refugees through the government’s humanitarian settlement services to help them establish their new lives in Australia.

See: Index of Media Releases

URL: http://www.minister.immi.gov.au /media/media-releases/2009/ce09029.htm Last update: 16 March 2009 at 10:50 AEST