Minister of Commerce, Industry, Labour and Immigration, Francis Billy Hilly, opened a Stakeholder Awareness Workshop on Refugees and Asylum Seekers in Honiara.

The 2-days workshop which started yesterday was co-organized by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Ministry of Commerce.

The workshop has engaged participants from 21 frontline government ministries, government agencies and NGOs that are involved with refugee issues.

Minister Hilly said the workshop is very important as it will enhance the knowledge of participants in relation to refugees, their rights and how Solomon Islands can deal with displaced peoples.

He said Solomon Islands as a subscriber to the ideals of the United Nations recognizes the important role we need to play as a member of the world of nations.

"Conflicts, persecutions and natural disasters have become reasons for people movement. Solomon Islands is therefore not immune to these ever increasing developments. As such we must be prepared to deal with them as they occur," Mr. Hilly said.

Solomon Islands though has ratified and adapted the Convention and Protocols relating to the status of Refugees has neither a domestic legislation nor regulation or processes in existence to deal with refugees and asylum seekers.

"It is therefore important that domestic legislation and regulations in respect of refugees and asylum seekers must be established for the effective and efficient administration of the relevant Convention and Protocol.

The workshop will also involve discussions on the roles and objectives that govern the affairs of UNHCR and more essentially how the government and people can seek support when refugee issues occur.

The workshop is being conducted by Mr Lesi Korovavala of the UNHCR who is based in Canberra.

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