UNHCR reviewing rules on Afghan and Sri Lankan refugees

GENEVA, April 9, 2010 (AFP) – The UN refugee agency revealed on Friday that it is reviewing the handling of Afghan and Sri Lankan refugees after Australia suspended asylum applications from those states. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) declined however to make a “judgment” on Australia’s move to stop accepting new asylum seekers from Sri Lanka and Afghanistan.

UNHCR spokeswoman Melissa Fleming said the agency was reviewing its guidelines on refugees from the two countries when Australia made its announcement.

Fleming pointed out that the situation in Sri Lanka was changing.

“We are currently examining that (Australian) announcement… particularly with regards to issues around detention of vulnerable persons and the provision of social support for the asylum seekers who are subject to this suspension,” she said.

“This decision from the Australian government is taken independently from us. We are looking at the implications,” she added.

Australian Immigration Minister Chris Evans said earlier that the government would temporarily suspend processing new visa applications from asylum seekers from Sri Lanka and Afghanistan, “in the light of the changing circumst