UNHCR Slams Australia’s Actions On Refugees

UNHCR Commissioner: Aus Gov’s announced change in legal status and withdrawal of support to refugees is a blatant attempt to coerce the most vulnerable to return to PNG, Nauru, or their countries of origin

By Yombi Kep

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, August 30, 2017) – The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Regional Representation in Canberra slams the Australian Government’s announcement on the change in legal status and withdrawal of support to refugees and asylum seekers.

The Australian Government’s announced change in legal status and withdrawal of support to refugees and asylum-seekers is a blatant attempt to coerce the most vulnerable to return to Papua New Guinea, Nauru, or their countries of origin said the commissioner in a statement.

“Papua New Guinea and Nauru remain unsuitable as places of settlement for refugees and asylum-seekers sent there by Australia.” said the commissioner.

Removing accommodation and financial support leaves people at serious risk of destitution in Australia. Equally, the withdrawal of access to basic services such as trauma and torture counseling will exacerbate their already precarious situation.

“The Government has not granted these refugees and asylum-seekers the right to work. Most were brought to Australia with acute medical needs. To claim abruptly that these same people should immediately support themselves financially is unfair and unreasonable.”

As a signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention, Australia remains responsible for those who have sought its protection. This includes a duty to consider claims for international protection fairly and efficiently, and to provide refugees and asylum-seekers with a minimum standard of living which is humane and dignified.

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