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UNHCR accuses Australia of separating families, after deportation of Tamil father

The UN Refugee Agency has said it is alarmed by Australia’s deportation of a Tamil asylum seeker which has left his partner, a recognised refugee, alone with their 11-month-old daughter.

UNHCR spokesperson Andre Mahecic said the agency is alarmed by a separation of a Sri Lankan refugee family in Sydney by the Government of Australia. 

This latest incident goes beyond a refusal to reunite families, to instead actively and indefinitely separate them, the spokesperson said.

Current legislation prevents the mother in this case from ever sponsoring her spouse to join her and their child in Australia. The husband and father is likewise prevented from ever obtaining even a short-term visa to visit his family. Sadly, the family members expect to be kept apart indefinitely, he said.

This contravenes the basic right of family unity, as well as the fundamental principle of the best interests of the child. UNHCR sought assurances from the Government of Australia that the man would not be removed from Australia and be allowed to remain with his family. Private legal representatives had also lodged multiple requests for intervention with the Minister for Home Affairs. We regret that those collective representations were unsuccessful, the spokesperson said.

See more from UNHCR here.