UNICEF: Protect the arrangements that protect refugee children

SYDNEY, 18 November, 2016 – UNICEF Australia reiterates its support of the Australian Government’s refugee resettlement plan with the United States of America, as speculation and some misinformation circulates about the details of the deal.
“While further information is certainly needed, UNICEF Australia continues to welcome the Government’s US refugee resettlement plan as a positive solution for some of the world’s most vulnerable children,” said Tony Stuart, CEO of UNICEF Australia.
“Refugees on Nauru and Manus Island have spent years living with high levels of uncertainty about their future and this deal provides the chance to start a new life in safety and for their families to recover and rebuild.” Mr Stuart added.
Following a briefing from Minister Dutton’s office this week, UNICEF Australia understands the following elements of the arrangements to be accurate:
  • This is a genuine arrangement and the product of months of planning and negotiation.
  • Regardless of the transition in the U.S Government, the Australian Government is confident that the arrangement will proceed.
  • Resettlement is only available to people who have been found to be refugees, and whose claims have been processed offshore.
  • The arrangement applies to refugees currently on Nauru and Manus Island as well as those who are in Australia for medical treatment or mental health support.  These people will be required to return to Nauru to be considered for resettlement in the United States.
  • The most vulnerable people, including children, women and families are being prioritised for referral.
  • The arrangement does not apply to those who arrive by boat in the future.
  • Australia will refer refugees to the U.S. for consideration in its regular admission program.  People who do not satisfy the United States’ standard requirements for refugee admission or do not accept its offer of resettlement can be issued with a 20 year visa for Nauru, or nominate to resettle in Cambodia.
  • Those people who are resettled under this arrangement will have options for family reunion in the U.S. 
“After a number of years expressing concern regarding the situation of refugee children and their families on Nauru, it is paramount that we protect the arrangements that will protect children and their families.” 
“UNICEF Australia remains concerned about the options for those refugees who are already onshore receiving medical and mental health support.  We urge the Australian Government to consider all options to avoid returning those refugees, particularly those who have experienced sexual and gender-based violence while in offshore processing facilities,” said Mr Stuart.
For further information and interviews, please contact:
Nicole Mackey, UNICEF Australia, 0403 964 334, nmackey@unicef.org.au
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.
For more information about UNICEF Australia and its work visit: www.unicef.org.au
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