Australia’s plan to send unaccompanied minors seeking asylum to Malaysia lacks important operating safeguards for children, the United Nations refugee agency said today.
The country’s Immigration Minister reportedly announced yesterday that Australia will proceed with a plan to send unaccompanied minors – who had previously arrived by sea from Asia and sought asylum – to Malaysia as part of a wider bilateral agreement between the two nations on the handling of asylum cases.
Adrian Edwards, a spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), said that while a draft memorandum of understanding on the issue between Malaysia and Australia had been shared with the agency, it had not been informed about the latest announcement.
“We are not able to lend our support to the text as it currently stands because of the absence of the operating protection safeguards we have been calling for,” he said.
“UNHCR has always stipulated that one of our specific requirements with regard to the transfers is that protection safeguards are in place to protect vulnerable groups, especially unaccompanied children.”