Australia is to review the situation in Sri Lanka and issue a new country advice which will be used to decide on new asylum seekers.
Newly appointed Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has for the first time flagged a review of Australia’s obligations under the United Nations refugee convention as part of a new policy aimed at stemming the flow of asylum seeker boats.
The Canberra Times said the review is part of a three-pronged policy shift by Rudd to address the issue globally, promote regional co-operation and tighten the refugee assessment process in Australia.
The government has already directed the Refugee Review Tribunal to consider new assessments of conditions in source countries – such as Afghanistan, Sri Lanka and Iran – that are being prepared by the Department of Foreign Affairs.
A spokesman for Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr said the new country information for Sri Lanka and Afghanistan would be ready by the end of this month, though such advice would not ”routinely be made publicly available”. Advice on other countries such as Iran and Vietnam was also being prepared.
A spokesman for the tribunal said the department’s information would be ”one of the sources that both primary and review decision-makers can rely upon”. Other information sources included the UN refugee agency and the US State Department.
According to The Australian, 1730 Sri Lankans have come to Australia by boat so far this year.
Of the 15,182 asylum-seekers who have arrived by boat in Australia this year, 5054 have come from Iran — a marked increase on the 2749 Iranians who came in the full 2012 calendar year.
That year, Australia received 17, 202 asylum-seekers with the largest two groups being from Sri Lanka and Afghanistan. Now, however, Iranian asylum-seekers are now arriving at more than twice the rate than either Afghans or Sri Lankans who form the next two largest cohorts. (Colombo Gazette)