Australia celebrates World Refugee Day

Last Updated: Fri, Jun 21, 2013 08:47 hrs

New Delhi, June 21 (IBNS) Australians joined thousands around the world celebrating World Refugee Day on Thursday.

Each year Australians celebrate Refugee Week to coincide with the United Nations World Refugee Day on 20 June.

Refugee Week aims to both raise awareness about the issues affecting refugees around the world and also celebrate the contributions refugees make to Australian society.

"Refugees resettled in Australia, as individuals, families and communities, have contributed enormously to the cultural and economic fabric of Australian life," said Patrick Suckling, Australia's High Commissioner to India.

"Australia has a long and proud history of resettling refugees to our country. In the last 60 years we have resettled more than 800 000 of the world's most vulnerable people so they could begin new lives in Australia".

"The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimates that there were 42.5 million forcibly displaced people worldwide at the end of 2011, including 10.4 million refugees. As a member of the global community, Australia shares responsibility for protecting refugees worldwide and does this most directly through our Humanitarian Program which resettles some of the world's most vulnerable refugees to Australia," said Suckling.

"In 2012-13 Australia increased the size of its program from 13 750 to 20 000 places with a focus on providing safe alternatives to dangerous boat journeys. This increase in Australia's program cements Australia as resettling the largest number of refugees per capita globally, and having the second largest refugee program after the USA."

"The High Commission in New Delhi plays an important part in delivering Australia's Humanitarian Program. This year we will resettle approximately 1 250 refugees from South Asia," said Suckling.

"On World Refugee Day I think it is also important to recognise the enormous contribution that India makes in providing protection to refugees and asylum-seekers," said Suckling. "India continues to grant asylum and provide direct assistance to some 200,000 refugees from neighbouring states."

This year´s Australian Refugee Week theme, "Restoring Hope", is an opportunity for Australians to reflect on the inspiring journeys many refugees have endured to build better lives in Australia.

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