Refugees

No easy answers on refugees

Fiji hosted the inaugural Pacific Regional Meeting on Protection from 29-30 November 2016 in Nadi in partnership with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The two-day conference brought together representatives from 13 Pacific Island countries to discuss issues relating to refugee protections, including mixed migration, statelessness and climate-induced displacement. The meeting also sought to […]

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December 1, 2016 10:33 am

Fiji hosted the inaugural Pacific Regional Meeting on Protection from 29-30 November 2016 in Nadi in partnership with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

Attorney-General, Hon. Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum delivers his address at the Pacific Protection Programme on Refugees.
Attorney-General, Hon. Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum delivers his address at the Pacific Protection Programme on Refugees.

The two-day conference brought together representatives from 13 Pacific Island countries to discuss issues relating to refugee protections, including mixed migration, statelessness and climate-induced displacement. The meeting also sought to boost regional and sub-regional innovation to develop solutions to challenges stemming from refugees and displaced peoples in the Pacific.

Opening the forum, Mr Thomas Albrecht, UNHCR’s Regional Representative, said that the UN Refugee Agency is “encouraged in the Pacific by the efforts made by states to formalise legal commitments to displaced people, to regularise arrangements for their care and processing, and to show regional leadership on emerging issues.” Mr Albrecht also noted the Pacific’s “proud tradition of welcome and care.”

In his keynote address, the Fijian Attorney-General and Minister for Economy, Hon. Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum spoke on the importance of regional and international collaboration in confronting the practical challenges presented by refugee movements around the world. 

“Issues relating to refugee status rarely have easy answers, however, this workshop presents an important opportunity to openly and freely discuss these issues and learn from each other’s experiences,” said the Attorney-General.

“While refugee movements represent serious challenges to countries all across the world, we must always recognise the dignity of the human being, citizen or not. And Governments need to continue to review their relevant laws to ensure that processes are transparent and accountable in confronting the practical challenges of refugee status.”

The Attorney-General also discussed the projected increase of climate-displaced people in the Pacific and stressed the urgent need for Fiji and other Pacific Island countries to offer adequate accommodation and assistance to those seeking refuge from rising sea levels. 

The conference was attended by representatives from Fiji, the Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.

The participating countries exchanged ideas and shared experiences in an effort to identify key actions necessary to increase regional support for persons in need of international protection throughout the Pacific.

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