Samoa praised for attitude to refugees

By Joyetter Feagaimaali’i-Luamanu ,

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United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Thomas Albrecht, amonog the representatives at the Pacific Immigration Directors Conference.

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Thomas Albrecht, amonog the representatives at the Pacific Immigration Directors Conference. (Photo: Joyetter Luamanu)

Despite having no refugees in Samoa, the Samoa Government has been praised for their “eagerness to understand what asylum and refugees is all about,” says United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Thomas Albrecht. 

He further commended Samoa for their “due diligence and cooperation” when it comes to the refugees’ issues in the Pacific. 

Albrecht was one of the delegates who was here last week for the Pacific Immigration Director’s Conference. 

Responding to Samoa Observer questions on the issue of refugees in the Pacific, he further applauded Samoa. 

“Big compliments for being extremely cooperative and really setting a good example. Both with the interim of reviewing the legislations and reviewing procedures. 

“There are a few asylum seekers in the Pacific. Nonetheless it’s still very important to have a structure to know if a family comes, what to do and how to quickly cooperate with each other and how to best protect the refugees and to find a solution for their future.”  

Albrecht said, “Many other parts of the world see much more of tragedy for example in South Sudan, where 2,000 refugees are crossing into Uganda over the last year. 

“Here in the Pacific we only have very limited number of refugees and it is a fortunate situation. 

“Still it is very important to be aware of the importance of protecting these refugees well. 

“Also to try and see how you can give them an opportunity to start their life again.”  

Last month the Papua New Guinea immigration officials announced that refugees that were housed in an area of the Manus camp would close with the rest of the compound to be shut on June 30, 2017. However an unspecified number of asylum-seekers would be relocated to a transit centre. An agreement between the Papua New Guinea and Australia was condemned by human rights groups and the United Nations. 

People who tried to reach Australia by boat were placed in the detention center as their refugee claims were being considered. 

“We have already been here for a long period of time and supported this cause to close Manus island but also close the facilities in Nauru because the refugees who have been there for a very long period time, need to have a future. 

“They need to have normal circumstances where small children to grandmothers can start a new life again,” said Albrecht. 

However there is challenge in terms of closing these facilities. 

“That is the challenge to find the appropriate response there, I think Australia needs to accept its responsibilities. 

“There is also the role of the community to see how best to help in a tragic situation. 

“Like the United States of America, they have been stepping forward to help many of the refugees now to hopefully start a new life in the US,” said Albrecht. 

© Samoa Observer 2016

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