Global Displacement Reaches Record Levels
23 June 2015 at 11:44 am
The number of people forcibly displaced by persecution and conflict has increased by 8.3 million in 12 months, growing to its highest level since World War II, according to the the UN’s Refugee Agency’s annual Global Trends report.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) report revealed that 59.5 million people were forcibly displaced at the end of 2014, 8.3 million more than in 2013.
Globally, the number of refugees grew from 16.7 million to 19.5 million and half of them were children.
The report found on average, every day last year 42,500 people became refugees, asylum seekers or were displaced in their own countries.
The UNHCR said that Australia assisted 14,350 refugees in the 2014 calendar year through its asylum and resettlement processes, a reduction of 3,854 places on the previous year.
Refugee Council of Australia CEO, Paul Power, said both sides of Australian politics needed to stand up to help the world’s growing refugee population.
“One in every 122 people in the world are now displaced from their homes and Australia’s draconian approach to refugees and asylum seekers is only making matters worse,” Power said.
“For years, we have had successive Australian Governments pretend that our national response should be to take tough action to try to deter desperate people from seeking our help. While boats might not be reaching Australia at the moment, tragically more people are at risk than at any point in the past 70 years and people are continuing to die on dangerous journeys – just in other parts of the world.
“Australia’s unilateral approach to what is unequivocally a massive international challenge is completely unsustainable.”
Power said the Australian Government was spending billions of dollars turning back boats while Turkey, Lebanon and Pakistan were hosting more than one million refugees each.
“Australia’s political leadership needs to stop insulting the intelligence of the Australian people and muddying our nation’s international reputation with simplistic and harmful rhetoric about people seeking protection from persecution. We need needs Australia as part of the solution, rather than as a major obstacle to more effective international responses,” he said.
“Our primary focus must be on supporting the nations in the front line of asylum seeker movements, doing everything we possibly can to support them through international aid, logistic support and resettlement offers. Our focus should be on trying to increase the level of protection for refugees in countries of first asylum, providing constructive alternatives to dangerous onward journeys in search of real safety.”
In Parliament this month, Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said the Government had saved $500 million by “stopping the boats” for 300 consecutive days.
“In this year’s Budget in this portfolio we were able to give back $500 million to the Budget so that we can pay for the measures associated with childcare, increases in the support for parents with kids, for small business measures, for tightening biometric security at our borders and a number of other Budget measures Madame Speaker, which of course was not possible when Labor was in power because in this portfolio they had an $11 billion blowout because 52,000 people came on 800 boats,” Dutton said.
“Not only is it a Budget savings, but more importantly Madame Speaker, the 1,200 people who drowned at sea under Labor, that death and carnage has now stopped under this Government because we have been able to stop the boats.
“It’s been 300 days since we’ve had a successful people smuggling venture come to this country, 300 days under operation Sovereign Borders.”