19 Jun 2013

Somali refugee intake claims denied

11:47 am on 19 June 2013

Somali refugees waiting in Indonesia say they are being forced to take dangerous boat voyages because Australia is refusing to resettle Africans.

The refugees told the ABC that they had been advised by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) that they would not be accepted through Australia's resettlement programs, even if they had refugee status.

The ABC reports some refugees wonder whether they are automatically rejected from Australia's humanitarian programme because of their skin colour.

About 80 Somalis have reportedly opted to travel with people smugglers in the past two months.

But Immigration Minister Brendan O'Connor has rejected claims that refugees from Somalia are not being accepted by Australia.

Mr O'Connor said the assertion is incorrect.

"Indeed, we've increased the offshore component under our humanitarian program, which provides more opportunities for people from all parts of the world, including Africa, to be resettled here," he told the ABC on Tuesday.

In October, the federal government increased its humanitarian intake for 2012-13 from 13,750 refugees to 20,000.

It stated that the increase would target refugees from source and transit countries, including up to 2000 refugees from Africa.