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Priority regions announced for refugee intake boost



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CHRIS BOWEN MP

MINISTER FOR IMMIGRATION AND CITIZENSHIP

MEDIA RELEASE

26 October 2012

PRIORITY REGIONS ANNOUNCED FOR REFUGEE INTAKE BOOST

Australia’s 20,000 place humanitarian program will provide increased resettlement options for people in need from priority regions in the Middle East, Africa and Asia, the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Chris Bowen MP, announced today.

Mr Bowen, who has been visiting refugee shelters and camps in Lebanon, said following the recommendations of the Expert Panel on Asylum Seekers, the Government had increased its humanitarian program from 13,750 to 20,000 places for 2012-13.

“The increase in places target those in most need, including those vulnerable people in camps around the world,” Mr Bowen said.

“We are providing more opportunities for vulnerable and displaced people to pursue safer resettlement options in Australia as part of an orderly humanitarian program.

“Taking a dangerous boat journey is no advantage - there is no visa awaiting them, no speedy outcome and no special treatment.”

The increased 2012-13 program targets refugees from source and transit countries, including:

 Up to 2,000 refugees of African nationality including people from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, South Sudan and Eritrea;  Up to 3,800 Iraqi refugees from Syria, Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon;  Up to 2,000 Afghan refugees out of countries in the region;  1,350 Burmese, Afghans, Iranians and other refugee populations in Malaysia;  Up to 1,200 Bhutanese refugees out of Nepal;  Up to 800 Burmese refugees from Thailand;  Around 600 Afghan, Iraqi and Iranian refugees in Indonesia;  Around 200 Burmese refugees in India; and  Around 200 UNHCR referred caseloads outside these target groups.

The Government has already announced an increased allocation of 400 places for people already referred by the UNHCR from within Indonesia, and 1,000 places for mainly Iraqi refugees caught up in the conflict in Syria.

There will also continue to be places available in the humanitarian program providing for people in need in compelling non-refugee humanitarian situations across the world.

“This significant boost in our humanitarian program will change the lives of people languishing in camps and other places around the world,” Mr Bowen said.

“As I witnessed in Lebanon, countries in the region bear a significant burden, generously providing protection space to refugees.

“With the program increased by more than 40 per cent, we are the second largest resettlement country in the world behind the United States - a huge achievement that provides for refugees, but also helps to relieve the burden of countries like Lebanon.”

Australia works closely with the UNHCR on resettlement, as well as with other resettlement countries to find suitable outcomes for refugees, particularly those in protracted situations.

“We are focusing on those refugees who are the most vulnerable. Often these are women and their children who are living in dangerous situations,” Mr Bowen said.

“In the 2011-12 year our ‘Woman at Risk’ program was the largest Australia has delivered - 13.7 per cent of refugee category visa grants. This year we expect even more entrants under this program.”

Media Contact: Bill Kyriakopoulos 0400 510 802