As part of its work, the Refugee Council of Australia (RCOA) talks to UNHCR about issues affecting refugee communities overseas. On 14 June 2016, we talked to UNHCR’s Middle East and North Africa Bureau about some of these issues as part of their consultations with NGOs in Geneva.

What did we talk about?

UNHCR updated us on the situation in Syria, Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan. The situation in Syria is getting worse. More children are out of school, child marriages are taking place and domestic violence is at high levels. The numbers going to Europe have dropped dramatically, as the conditions in Europe are very difficult for those who go there.

Turkey will begin processing refugees, and more people are now being resettled from Turkey. In Lebanon, many people who had not registered with UNHCR were now unable to, because of a change in the government’s position.

We raised concerns we had heard about interpreters working in Turkey, and reports of corruption and exploitation in resettlement. UNHCR spoke about the number of submissions they had made for resettlement from the region, mainly Syrians from Lebanon. It was reported that so far there were visa grants from Jordan. UNHCR confirmed that Australia was rejecting applications for resettlement by people who had close family members who had arrived in Australia by boat.

Read about how UNHCR responded to our questions in our full report of the meeting.