Accra, Jan. 14, GNA - Australia has increased its refugee intake from Africa with about 13,000 people expected to be granted visas under its Refugee and Humanitarian Programme by the end of the June 2005 financial year.
A statement from the Australian High Commission in Accra on Friday said the programme this year includes a 50 per cent increase in the refugee component of the programme from 4,000 to 6,000 people. It said Australia had maintained its place in the top three countries in the world for resettling people in need of refugee and humanitarian aid, with a large number coming from Africa.
The statement said this included refugees waiting in camps in countries like Ghana, Guinea and Sudan adding that this group was expected to account for about 70 per cent of all people resettled in Australia under the programme this financial year.
Announcing details of Australia's immigration record, Senator Amanda Vanstone, Australia's Minister for Immigration, said recently that between July and November 2004, Australia granted close to 5,000 visas to resettle people in need of refugee and humanitarian aid.
"These are the people in most desperate need of resettlement according to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)," she said.
According to the statement, Australia's refugee resettlement programme in West Africa was conducted in consultation with the UNHCR, which identified suitable candidates for resettlement and referred them to the Australian government.
It said most refugees from West Africa resettled in Australia had been people displaced by the civil wars in Liberia and Sierra Leone. Australia spent about 500 million Australian dollars, equivalent to 380 million US dollars, a year on support and services for those in most desperate need of resettlement.