Files risk halts flow of refugees

Russell Skelton; 30/1/10

The Australian Government has stopped processing Iraqi refugees in Syria following Syrian Government demands for access to the personal files of refugees approved for resettlement in Australia. Australian immigration officials are concerned that Syrian authorities may pass the information back to Baghdad, putting the families of asylum seekers still in Iraq at risk. There are also fears among refugee advocacy groups that non-Muslim refugees – mainly Christians – are being targeted and prevented from leaving the country. The Age understands that Australia has made representations to the Baathist Government in Damascus urging that the demand for personal information be dropped and international conventions restored.