Latest speeches and statements
- Civilians in Gaza in extreme peril while the world watches on: Ten requirements to avoid an even worse catastrophe
21 February 2024
- Statement by Principals of the Inter-Agency Standing Committee: We cannot abandon the people of Gaza
31 January 2024
- Statement by Principals of the Inter-Agency Standing Committee, One in five people in the Central Sahel needs humanitarian aid: Now is the time to turn words into action
12 January 2024
- Global Refugee Forum Opening remarks of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi
13 December 2023
- Statement by Principals of the Inter-Agency Standing Committee, on the situation in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory, "We need an immediate humanitarian ceasefire"
5 November 2023
- High Commissioner's 2023 Kofi Annan Geneva peace address
3 November 2023
- High Commissioner’s statement to the Third Committee of the United Nations General Assembly
31 October 2023
- High Commissioner’s statement to the United Nations Security Council
31 October 2023
- High Commissioner’s closing statement to the Executive Committee of the High Commissioner's Programme
13 October 2023
- High Commissioner’s opening statement to the Executive Committee of the High Commissioner’s Programme
9 October 2023
- UNHCR expresses alarm at Sudan clashes, urges de-escalation
17 April 2023
- High Commissioner's Statement to UN Security Council Arria Formula Meeting
22 March 2023
- High Commissioner's remarks at the International Donors' Conference 'Together for the people in Türkiye and Syria' in Brussels, Belgium
20 March 2023
- High Commissioner's speech at the International Conference in Solidarity with Venezuelan Refugees and Migrants and their Host Countries and Communities in Brussels, Belgium
17 March 2023
- High Commissioner's Statement at The International Conference on Climate Resilient Pakistan
09 January 2023
Latest speeches and statements
The mental health of refugees and asylum-seekers is a critical part of their overall well-being, and an important factor in their positive integration into a new community.
UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, convened a multi-stakeholder Expert Roundtable on Mental Health in Refugee Status Determination in Australia during June 2017, bringing together medical professionals and psychologists, academics, officials of the Department of Immigration and Border Protection and the Administrative Appeals Tribunal including the Immigration Assessment Authority.
The roundtable focused on the mental health and well-being of the so-called ‘legacy caseload’, approximately 30,000 asylum-seekers living in Australia with no clear avenue to refugee protection.
A number of factors have contributed to the mental health deterioration of this group of vulnerable people.
The so-called ‘legacy caseload’ have waited several years to be granted permission to apply for temporary protection. Most of them have also been excluded from government-funded legal assistance.
Prolonged periods of uncertainty and the impact of family separation (including anxiety about family members who remain in danger in their country of origin or other locations) also negatively impact mental health. Timeframes and procedures are difficult to meet and understand, with the asylum process requiring the completion of a 41-page form.
Many asylum-seekers within this group suffer from clinically diagnosable mental disorders as a result of these cumulative circumstances. This includes most commonly anxiety and depressive disorders, as well as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
The mental health issues experienced by this group of asylum-seekers have a detrimental impact on the refugee status determination process. An asylum-seeker suffering from mental health challenges may experience difficulties concentrating, recollecting events and providing detailed information in a temporally sequenced manner.
Under these circumstances, people seeking protection may also have problems understanding the questions being asked. They may grasp the key elements, but cannot process the whole question or understand the intention of the question.
An inability to adequately articulate protection claims can lead to testimony being presented as contradictory, which may result in negative credibility findings, and the ultimate erroneous rejection of a person with international protection needs. This, in turn, may result in a risk of refoulement.
Recommendations on how to address critical mental health issues in the refugee status determination process for people seeking safety and protection are being produced as a result of the Expert Roundtable, for follow up action by a range of stakeholders.
- Asylum in Australia
- UNHCR Position on Legal Representation for Asylum-Seekers (2017)
- UNHCR Submission to the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee, Migration and Maritime Powers Legislation Amendment (Resolving the Asylum Legacy Caseload) Bill 2014
- UNHCR Handbook and Guidelines on Procedures and Criteria for Determining Refugee Status (2011)