Australia celebrates Refugee Week

18 June 2008

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For the next few days, Australia will celebrate Refugee Week in honor of all the individuals who have immigrated to the nation under its Humanitarian Program.

"Events in every state and territory will celebrate the remarkable journeys of the people who come here as refugees under Australia's Humanitarian Program," said Immigration Minister Chris Evans.

"Every new Australian citizen has a special story, but I think all Australians would agree that the people who arrive here as refugees add particularly vibrant threads to the material that is building our nation," he added.

Evans said that many people who entered Australia under the Humanitarian Program will become Australian citizens during Refugee Week at ceremonies across the country.

Along with more mainstream immigration categories such as skilled immigration, the Humanitarian Program witnessed an increase in its quota for the year.

The Australian Humanitarian Program was increased by 13,500 places for the 2008-09 year in a federal budget adjustment last month, including 6,500 offshore refugee visa places for people currently overseas.

"The offshore component of the 2008-09 Humanitarian Program will focus on refugees from Africa, Asia and the Middle East," Evans said.

Since the end of the Second World War, Australia has welcomed more than 660,000 refugees and other people in need of humanitarian assistance, according to the Department of Immigration and Citizenship.