UNHCR silent on new ayslum deal

National, Normal

The National, Friday July 26th, 2013

 THE United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) says it is not in a position to comment on the refugee resettlement deal struck between Australia and Papua New Guinea as it has not been involved in the agreement.

“Unfortunately, at this time we have no further comment as we are still examining the announcement,” UNHCR external relations officer Ben Farrell said on Wednesday.

“You will definitely receive a statement when it is issued.”

Farrell, who is based in Canberra, said the UNHCR had received a number of media queries about last Friday’s announcement by 

Australia and PNG of a new regional resettlement arrangement that expanded on the existing bilateral transfer arrangement between the two countries.

“UNHCR has not been involved in this agreement, and we are at present seeking further detail from the governments of Australia and Papua New Guinea of its content,” he said.

“UNHCR advocates on a worldwide basis for maintaining a robust international asylum system in which those fleeing danger or persecution have access to safe haven, to proper asylum procedures, and ultimately to help with finding solutions to their plight,” Farrel said. 

“With any new asylum policy or agreement, it is important that these long-established norms and international principles are upheld.”