Australia Minister for Immigration and Citizenship reply concerning Christian minority groups in Iraq

1.gifSydney – 13 December 2010
Mr. Chris Hayes MP, Member for Fowler received a reply from the Minister for Immigration the Hon. Chris Bowen MP in response to his letter dated 1 October 2010 concerning Christian minority groups in Iraq and for his request that the plight of minority groups be given consideration when assessing humanitarian visa applications.
Mr. Bowen stated “The Australian Government remains concerned about human rights issues in Iraq and is closely monitoring the situation of minorities living there and in surrounding countries; Australia’s Humanitarian Program operates on a global and non-discriminatory basis. The Program is designed to assist those who are subject to persecution or substantial discrimination in their home country and who demonstrate the greatest need of resettlement. Whilst there are no special arrangements for specific religious or ethnic groups, these factors may form the basis of their claims for resettlement.
Mr. Bowen assured that departmental staffs are aware of the issue facing many minority groups in Iraq, including Christians and Sabian Mandaeans. This information is taken into consideration when assessing Refugee and Humanitarian visa applications.
Australia does not have the capacity to resettle all the people who apply for a humanitarian visa. Given the limited number of visas available under the Humanitarian Program, every effort is made to assist those in greatest need of resettlement. The greatest priority is given to those people assessed as refugees by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and referred to Australia for resettlement, and applications involving separation of spouses, or parents from dependent children, where one of the parties is in Australia.
Iraqis were the largest national group of humanitarian entrants in 2008-09 and will be well represented in the 2009-10 Program year outcomes.
Mr. Bowen continued; that he is currently considering the composition of the 2010-11 Program and the situation of Iraqi refugees will be taken into account. I expect Iraqis will continue to be a priority caseload in this year’s Program.
Iraqis were identified as a priority for assistance under the Department’s 2009-10 Displaced Persons Programs funding round. Projects in the Middle East region aim to provide community assistance to displaced Iraqis and protect vulnerable displaced Iraqi women. Projects in refugee transit countries aim to increase the capacity of host governments and UNHCR to protect displaced Iraqis and conduct refugee status determinations.
For more information visit the link:
http://www.aua.net/News/news/2010/MIreply.pdf
Assyrian Universal Alliance – Australian Chapter
PO Box 34, Fairfield NSW 1860 Australia.
E-mail: auaaustralia@optusnet.com.au