As pressure mounts within the Coalition to help resettle the farmers, the UNHCR has cast doubt on whether South African farmers can be classified as refugees and granted protection under Australia’s humanitarian program.
“The UNHCR Regional Representation in Canberra has not received any queries from South African farmers seeking protection from Australia,” said UNHCR spokesperson Catherine Stubberfield.
“Under the 1951 Refugee Convention, a person must be outside their country of origin in order to claim asylum.”
In contrast, she said the hundreds of refugees on Manus Island and Nauru have sought protection “directly from Australia” and deserve the Government’s attention.
“Those who have been forcibly transferred to Papua New Guinea and Nauru under the ‘offshore processing’ arrangement should be Australia’s first priority after almost five years,” she said.