UN urges Australia to protect minors seeking asylum

Plans by Australia to clamp down on illegal migration by sending unaccompanied minors back to a detention center in Malaysia has been heavily criticized by the United Nations. UN refugee agency UNHCR and the UN Children’s agency UNICEF say they had not been made aware of the plans to return the minors in advance. The agencies are demanding to know what measures the Australian and Malaysian governments had put in place to protect the minors at the detention centers. Adrian Edwards is from UNHCR.

"UNHCR has always stipulated that one of our specific requirements with regard to the transfers is that protection safeguards be in place to protect vulnerable groups, especially unaccompanied children. This is a complex issue. The potential safeguards benefits of such an arrangement might have been there was dissuasion towards smuggling on the one hand that people were not undertaking risky sea journey on the other but if we come back to this particular issue, children are being returned by Australia we would want to know that there is proper protection arrangements in place for that."

The decision to return the unaccompanied minors was announced by the Australian Immigration Minister Chris Bowen on Thursday.

duration: 39″

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