Iraqis brought to Australia: Fitzgibbon
August 1, 2008 – 11:47PM
About 400 Iraqis and their families, at risk after helping Australian efforts in the Gulf state, have been brought to Australia.
Defence Minister Joel Fitzgibbon confirmed the Iraqis had been brought to Australia over the past two months with the help of the Department of Defence and the Department of Immigration.
“The project was not without risk, but deserting those who were assisting Australian troops, and because of that were at risk of persecution, was not an option for the Australian government,” he said in a statement.
“We are thankful the project appears to have been successful.”
Earlier this year, the federal government announced it would offer permanent residence to Iraqis working for Australian personnel in Iraq.
In April, Mr Fitzgibbon said anti-coalition forces had deliberately targeted individuals working with Australian troops and their partners in southern Iraq.
“These Iraqis have repeatedly shown their commitment to Australia's security and reconstruction operations in Iraq,” Mr Fitzgibbon said.
Australia withdrew its remaining combat troops from Iraq in June – meeting an election commitment made by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd last year.