A message from the Department of Immigration and Border Protection.

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We have received this message from Executive Division of Immigration and Border Protection concerning the departments recent announcements regarding the resettlement of Syrian and Iraqis in the 2014-15 Offshore Humanitarian Programme.

Dear community representatives,

Greetings from the Ethnic Liaison Officer team of the Department of Immigration and Border Protection.

You are no doubt aware of the recent media release by the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, the Hon Scott Morrison, on 17 August 2014, which covers among other things, information on the resettlement of Iraqis and Syrians under Australia’s Humanitarian Programme. The media release may be accessed via the link below:
See: http://www.minister.immi.gov.au/media/sm/2014/sm217128.htm

Following a number of queries, we would like to provide further information about the resettlement of Syrian and Iraqis in the 2014-15 Offshore Humanitarian Programme. We are aware that many of you have recently received queries from your communities and we hope the points below will assist you with relevant information.
RESETTLEMENT OF IRAQIS AND SYRIANS IN AUSTRALIA’S HUMANITARIAN PROGRAMME
· The resettlement of Iraqis and Syrians who have fled their home country remains a priority within Australia’s offshore Humanitarian Programme.

· The Australian Government is responding to the current crises in Iraq and Syria by providing targeted places in this year’s Humanitarian Programme.

· The Government has set aside at least 4400 places within the 11 000 place offshore Humanitarian Programme for 2014–15 for these two groups:
o a minimum of 2200 places for Iraqis who have fled their home country
o a minimum of 2200 places for Syrians who have fled their home country.

· A significant number of these places will be for the Special Humanitarian Programme (SHP).
o The SHP allows people in Australia to propose their family members overseas who have fled their home country and who are in need of resettlement.

· Other places will be for refugees referred to Australia for resettlement by UNHCR.

· There are already many thousands of applications from Iraqis and Syrians who have applied for Australian visas, proposed by relatives in the SHP.
o Priority in processing will be for those with the closest links to Australia (siblings, parents, children, spouses).
o Although these applications will have priority, it may still take some time for these applications to be finalised.

· All applicants must satisfy standard health, good character and national security requirements.
o Processing of applications can take longer than applicants and their Australian proposers may wish, however visas cannot be granted until all requirements are met.

Iraqis
· Iraqis have been a priority for resettlement for a number of years, with some 22 000 Iraqis starting a new life in Australia over the last 10 years.
o Iraqis were the single largest nationality granted visas under the offshore Humanitarian Programme over this period, with around one in every five refugees resettled in Australia coming from Iraq.
o The majority of Iraqis resettled in Australia are from minority ethnic and religious communities.
o Over 2300 Iraqis were granted visas in the 2013–14 Humanitarian Programme.

· Iraqis resettled by Australia include people who have fled to Syria, Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon.

· Australia will again be resettling Iraqis from these countries in the 2014–15 Programme.
o This will also include people who have fled the violence in northern Iraq to neighbouring countries, such as Turkey.

· The 2200 places for Iraqis will include refugees referred by UNHCR and people proposed by family members in Australia under the SHP.
o As in 2013–14, the majority of visas granted to Iraqis are likely to be under the SHP, reflecting the strong demand from communities in Australia to assist relatives displaced in neighbouring countries by the crisis.

· While Australia will be resettling Iraqis who have fled to neighbouring countries, it is not possible to consider people who remain inside Iraq, including those in northern Iraq.
o Unfortunately it is not possible for departmental staff to enter those areas of Iraq where there is continuing conflict to interview applicants and process their applications.

Syrians
· In addition to the commitment to grant at least 2200 visas to Syrians in the 2014–15 offshore Humanitarian Programme, the Government has also undertaken to accept at least 4500 Syrians in total over the next three years.

· More than 1000 visas were granted to Syrians in the 2013–14 Humanitarian Programme, most of whom were proposed under the SHP.

· Syrians resettled in the 2013–14 Programme were from Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and Egypt.
o Reflecting the size of displaced populations in the region, most of the Syrians granted visas were from Lebanon.

· The 2200 places for Syrians will include both refugees referred by UNHCR and people proposed by close family members in Australia.
o As in 2013–14, the majority of visas granted to Syrians are likely to be under the SHP, reflecting the strong demand from communities in Australia to assist relatives displaced in neighbouring countries by the crisis.

2014–15 Humanitarian Programme
· The planning level for the 2014–15 Humanitarian Programme remains at 13 750 places, with:

o 11 000 places, at minimum, for the offshore component; and

o 2750 places for the onshore component.
· Within the 11 000 place offshore component:

o 6000 places are for refugees, most of whom will be referred by UNHCR; and

o 5000 places are for people proposed under the Special Humanitarian Programme (SHP).
· The Government has continued its commitment to resettling highly vulnerable female refugees without the protection of male family members by again setting aside 1000 places within the Refugee stream for the Woman at Risk component.

o Australia recently celebrated the 25th anniversary of the establishment of the Woman at Risk provisions within its Humanitarian Programme.

o Over 14 500 visas have been granted under these provisions since 1989.
· Refugees referred by UNHCR and people in need of resettlement proposed under the SHP will continue to be drawn from three key global regions: Asia, the Middle East and Africa.
· In addition to the commitment to resettle at least 4400 Iraqis and Syrians from the Middle East, the 2014–15 offshore Programme will also include:

o Afghans from Pakistan and Iran;

o Burmese from Malaysia, Thailand and India;

o Bhutanese from Nepal;

o Iranians from Turkey; and

o DRC Congolese, Sudanese/South Sudanese, Somalis, Eritreans and Ethiopians from eastern and southern Africa the Horn of Africa and Sudan/North Africa.
Special Humanitarian Programme (SHP)
· As a result of the success of its border protection strategies, the government has been able to restore the SHP after a number of years in which places were taken by the onshore (protection) component.
o The SHP outcome in 2013–14 was the largest since 2007–08 and provided 4000 more SHP places than in 2012–13.

o The Government has committed to providing, at minimum, 20 000 additional SHP places to the offshore Programme over the period 2013–14 to 2017–18.

o This guarantees at least 4000 SHP places in each offshore Programme across these years.

o This will allow many more families who have been waiting overseas to be reunited with their close relatives in Australia.
· The SHP in 2014–15 has 5000 places which is the largest since 2006–07.

As there are already many thousands of applications lodged in the SHP, only those applications from people with the closest links to Australian and who have the strongest claims are likely to be successful.

For visa related queries please contact our General Enquiries Line on 131 881. For interpreter assistance please call the Translating & Interpreting Service (TIS National) on 131 450.

 

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