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Kosovars to be given temporary safe haven in Australia.

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Media Release


The Hon. Philip Ruddock MP

Minister for immigration and Multicultural Affairs


MPS 67/99




“The Government has decided to activate its plans to provide safe haven in Australia for 400 0 displaced Kosovars”, Philip Ruddock, the Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs, announced today. This follows the receipt of a request, in the early hours of this morning, from the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR).


Mr Ruddock said an eight person Australian team has been in the Former Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) for some weeks. It has been consulting actively with UNHCR on the arrangements that would apply if a request was reactivated for Australia to take displaced Kosovars. The team has also been assisting the UNHCR in registration and screening processes and providing technical support.


“This team is now asking UNHCR to nominate individuals for processing to Australia and clearly we want this to happen as soon as possible" said Mr Ruddock. “Arrangements are already in place to send additional staff to Skopja to increase further our processing capacity."


The Government announced on 6 April 1999 Australia's offer to provide temporary safe haven in Australia for 4,000 Kosovo Albanians. Mr Ruddock said that this offer had been put on hold on 10 April 1999 at the request of the UNHCR.


“Increasing outflows from Kosovo and continued pressure within the camps in FYROM have now resulted in the UNHCR requesting Australia and other countries outside Europe to provide safe haven".


The legal framework for providing temporary safe haven in Australia is being put into place. The Migration Legislation (Temporary Safe Haven Visas) Bill 1999 was passed yesterday by the Senate and will be considered by the House of Representatives in the Budget sitting.


"Extensive preparations for reception in Australia are already in place. The first arrivals will be processed in East Hills in Sydney and travel to Brighton Barracks in Tasmania. A range of other sites throughout Australia will be deployed in the light of the composition and needs of the people concerned".


Mr Ruddock expressed appreciation at the high level of cooperation between Federal and State bodies and community groups. 1 think we are well prepared for the intense activity which will be necessary in coming days and weeks as many Australians work to welcome these people who have suffered so much and are now being offered temporary haven in Australia."


ENDS Saturday 1 May 1999


Media Inquiries: Susan Sare 0407 415 797