Sunday, May 20, 2012
Australia has started taking refugees based in Malaysia
Posted on 7 April 2012 - 04:06pm
Last updated on 7 April 2012 - 09:14pm
MELBOURNE (April 7, 2012): Australia has already started accepting refugees from Malaysia, mainly people from Myanmar, under a two-dimension arrangement between the two countries, Miles Kupa, the Australian High Commissioner in Kuala Lumpur said.
It was agreed last year that Australia would send 8,000 asylum seekers from Christmas Island to Malaysia to process their claims for refugee status.
In return Australia would receive 4,000 people certified as refugees by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) over four years.
But the high court in Australia blocked the move of asylum seekers to Malaysia and no progress has been made since, chiefly because the Australian opposition party refuses to co-operate with the Government.
But Australia is committed and is receiving refugees based in Malaysia.
"We are in the process of taking this year's component of that 4,000-refugee commitment and those people are now coming to Australia," Kupa told ABC Radio.
"So we're living up to that side of the agreement, even though the other part of it is blocked for the moment," he said.
Kupa said between 500 and 600 refugees had already arrived in Australia.
The Myanmar group known as the Chin has "the prospect of being very good migrants, very good members of our community here," Kupa said.
The High Commissioner said Australia's new Foreign Minister Senator Bob Carr remained committed to the asylum seeker swap plan with Malaysia.
Kupa said the Malaysian authorities, particularly the Home Affairs Minister, who is the key minister throughout the negotiations has remained committed to that and working with Australia.
"I should note too that Malaysia and Australia work very closely together on combating people smuggling, trying to round up the bad guys who organise this very evil traffic. And that cooperation continues to be very solid indeed," he said. -- Bernama