Immigration Minister to visit Lebanon
Saturday, 20 October 2012
The Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Chris Bowen MP, will make his first visit to Lebanon this weekend, where he will meet with senior members of the Lebanese Government and key refugee organisations, as well as visit refugee sites in various parts of the country.
The Minister will next week meet the Lebanese President General Michel Sleiman, Prime Minister Najib Mikati, the Speaker of the National Assembly Nabih Berri and other senior government ministers.
He is also scheduled to meet with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the International Organization for Migration and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees.
Mr Bowen said Lebanon had significant refugee communities and had made an important contribution in supporting people affected by the instability in the region, particularly relating to the current unrest in Syria.
'As part of this Lebanon trip I will be visiting Syrian refugee shelters with the UNHCR in northern Lebanon, as well as a Palestinian refugee camp in the Beirut region,' Mr Bowen said.
'This will help to inform discussions about Australia's humanitarian program and consideration of ways we may be able to support Lebanon in the future.'
Mr Bowen said the visit was also an opportunity to acknowledge the contribution of the Lebanese community in Australia.
'There remains a very strong link between Australian families and their relatives in Lebanon, who regularly visit our country,' he said.
'There are more than 200 000 Australians of Lebanese descent according to the 2011 Census and my visit will provide an opportunity to broadly discuss Australia's migration and temporary visa programs.
'Australia enjoys a positive working relationship with the Lebanese Government and continues to work cooperatively on issues of migration.'
The Minister will also visit Nahr Al Kalb, a site which commemorates Australia's involvement in military campaigns in Lebanon in 1918 and 1941.
This will be the first visit to Lebanon by an Australian Immigration Minister since 2001.
Last update: Monday, 22 October 2012 at 09:25 AEST