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NFPs Call on Syrian Refugee Intake

8 September 2015 at 12:26 pm
Ellie Cooper
Australia’s major aid organisations have urged the Federal Government to take in 30,000 Syrian refugees – substantially more than the number churches and opposition parties have called for.

Ellie Cooper | 8 September 2015 at 12:26 pm


NFPs Call on Syrian Refugee Intake
8 September 2015 at 12:26 pm

Australia’s major aid organisations have urged the Federal Government to take in 30,000 Syrian refugees – substantially more than the number churches and opposition parties have called for.

In an advertisement in The Australian newspaper, Oxfam, World Vision and Save the Children said the Government must urgently increase Australia’s humanitarian intake in response to the global refugee crisis.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott told Parliament the Government would increase its intake of Syrian refugees, without increasing the total number of humanitarian visas available.

Oxfam Australia Acting Executive Director, Pam Anders said it was heartening to see politicians focussing their attention on those affected by the conflict in Syria, but they were still failing to see the big picture.

“The Australian Government’s compassion towards Syrian refugees must not come at the expense of refugees fleeing violence and persecution in other countries,” Anders said.

“Australia can, and must, do more. No single country can solve the global refugee crisis, but as one of the world’s richest countries, Australia has a moral obligation to act, and to act now.”

More than four million people have had to flee Syria to escape the civil war. Globally the number of people displaced by conflict is almost 60 million. This is the highest number of people forced to flee their homes since World War II.

World Vision Chief Executive, Tim Costello said that the image of the Syrian toddler Aylan Kurdi, who died at sea last week, had touched many.

“But Aylan is just one of the millions of Syrians who have been forced to flee their homes. They, as well as refugees from other countries, will continue to embark on perilous journeys as long as they face the daily threat of being abused, tortured or killed,” Costello said.

The group of Not for Profits said currently its the countries who can least afford to accept refugees that are doing the most to house those fleeing for their safety.

“The world’s poorer countries currently host 86 per cent of the world’s refugees, and they are stretched to their limits. The Labor and Greens parties have made welcome calls for an increase to the intake of Syrian refugees in addition to the current overall refugee intake,” they said.

Save The Children Chief Executive, Paul Ronalds said the Government must increase Australia’s overall humanitarian intake of refugees, rather than reshuffling the current allocation which is effectively “robbing Peter to pay Paul”.

“Australia must also increase its humanitarian aid for Syria and neighbouring countries, and increase diplomatic efforts towards securing a sustainable and inclusive peace agreement to the conflict in Syria. Not only is this the right thing to do, it is also in our national interest to help solve what is clearly a global crisis,” Ronalds said.

World Vision, Save the Children and Oxfam have been providing humanitarian assistance to Syrians since the conflict started.

However they said there is a serious shortfall, with only a third of the global appeal for the Syria crisis funded.

The agencies are urging the public to add their voices to the call for an increase in Australia’s humanitarian refugee intake by signing a petition to be sent to the Australian Government.

Australian churches have been calling for a Syrian refugee intake of 10,000 while the Greens want 20,000. The Federal Labor Party has called on the Government to impose a “one-off, emergency increase” to the permanent refugee intake to accommodate 10,000 Syrians and $100 million injection of foreign aid to support displaced people in the Middle East.

A joint statement from the Prime Minister, the Foreign Minister and the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection said the Government will consult with Australia’s international partners on possible further assistance for the humanitarian crisis in the Middle East and Europe.

“The scale of the dislocation of people in Syria and northern Iraq and the unfolding crisis in the Mediterranean requires further international response,” the statement said.

“This week the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, Peter Dutton, will travel to Geneva for urgent discussions with the UNHCR and other partners.

“The Government is considering what further significant contribution we can make through our Humanitarian Programme to resettle those affected by the conflict in Syria and Iraq.

“Our focus will be on families and women and children, especially of persecuted minorities, who have sought refuge in camps neighbouring Syria and Iraq.”

The Australian charity regulator, the ACNC has urged those wishing to give to the Syrian crisis to donate wisely.

“As the Syrian refugee crisis continues to unfold, the national charity regulator is urging the public to donate to established humanitarian charities,” ACNC Commissioner, Susan Pascoe AM said.

“Australians are inherently caring and generous, and are often willing to give their time or money to support those facing a crisis.

“I know that many Australians have been deeply impacted by the heart-wrenching images and stories we have seen and heard recently.

“To ensure that their valuable contributions are used to full effect, I encourage the public to donate to established humanitarian aid charities that are registered with the ACNC.”

Ellie Cooper  |  Journalist  |  @ProBonoNews

Ellie Cooper is a journalist covering the social sector.

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