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Humanitarian Program announced for 1998-99

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M e d i a R e l e a s e

The Hon. Philip Ruddock MP Parliament House, Canberra ACT 2600

Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs Telephone: (02) 6277 7860 Facsimile: (02) 6273 4144

MPS 37/98

Humanitarian Program Announced 1998-99

Australia's 1998-99 Humanitarian Program will again consist of 12,000 places, the Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs, Philip Ruddock, announced today.

“The figure, the same as last year, comprises places for 10 000 new humanitarian settlers from overseas, and another 2000 places for people already in Australia who seek protection,” Mr Ruddock said.

Mr Ruddock said priority would continue to be given to the regions of the former Yugoslavia, the Middle East and Africa.

"The Program reflects the Government’s continuing commitment to assist the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in resettling people in desperate straits, for whom resettlement in another country is their only option.

“This commitment has been commended by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Mrs Ogata.”

“The Humanitarian Program will again be comprised of four components:

- Refugee: 4,000 places for people who meet the United Nations Convention definition of a refugee and have been identified in conjunction with UNHCR as in need of resettlement. This meets the Government’s commitment to maintain refugee levels

- Special Humanitarian Program (SHP): 4,250 places for people who have suffered discrimination amounting to gross violation of human rights and who have strong support from an Australian citizen or resident or a community group in Australia;

- Special Assistance Category (SAC): 1,750 places for people who, while not meeting the refugee or Special Humanitarian criteria, are nonetheless in situations of discrimination, displacement or hardship. Most SACs require proposers of applicants to be close family members resident in Australia.

- Onshore Protection Visa Grants: 2,000 places for people designated as refugees according to the UN criteria who are granted Protection Visas in Australia.

Mr Ruddock said that if the number of Onshore Protection Visas granted rises above 2,000, the excess will be drawn from the overseas element of the Program.

“Similarly, if the number is less than 2000, the excess will be transferred to the overseas element.

“A more detailed breakdown of these four components will be announced in the near future.

“Today’s announcement continues the Government's commitment to deliver a separate, effective and well targeted Humanitarian Program which puts the resettlement needs of genuine refugees first”.

8 April 1998 Media inquiries: Brad Robinson (02) 6277 7860 or 0419 278 715