UNHCR NEWS COMMENT on the Australia - New Zealand refugee deal
This statement may be attributed to Adrian Edwards, UNHCR Representative for Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific, in Canberra.
UNHCR has long advocated for Australia to accept New Zealand’s offer of accepting refugees and asylum seekers sent to Papua New Guinea and Nauru. As such, we are glad to see today’s announcement that Australia and New Zealand have reached an arrangement on the matter. For the refugees and asylum seekers, the prolonged uncertainty of their situation has taken an enormous toll. Our hope is that through this arrangement as many as possible will find a solution to their plights and be supported on the path to recovery.
UNHCR is not a party to the arrangement announced today. Nonetheless in light of the compelling humanitarian circumstances, and in view of our firm belief that every refugee should have a properly durable solution, we have indicated our in-principle readiness to facilitate the process of resettlement referrals* to New Zealand.
As refugees and asylum seekers in Papua New Guinea have not been included UNHCR and New Zealand have agreed to work separately on referrals of eligible individuals from there. We are grateful to New Zealand in this regard.
Expectations arising from today’s announcement, including the three-year timeframe of 150 people per year will be important to manage. With 112 refugees and asylum seekers today on Nauru, and some 1100 others in Australia, the arrangement will not be sufficient to cover the needs of all. We nonetheless hope it will bring about new impetus towards this goal so that compassionate and lasting answers can be found including in Australia for all who have been subject to Australia’s offshore processing policies.
Globally, only a tiny proportion of the world’s refugees (less than 0.2 per cent in 2020) are accepted by States for resettlement each year.
Refugee resettlement referrals are a key mechanism for helping refugees find solutions to their plights through resettlement. They entail a detailed and sometimes lengthy process of assessing individual cases to determine resettlement eligibility. It is on the basis of these assessments that UNHCR makes resettlement recommendations to States, which then decide whether to accept individuals on the basis of these referrals.
UNHCR’s work in finding solutions for refugees in Nauru and PNG: UNCHR has been operationally engaged in finding solutions for refugees sent to Nauru and PNG working closely with States and other partners.