Australia Must Triple Its Humanitarian Intake, Oxfam Says
19 August 2016 at 12:36 pm
International aid agency Oxfam said Australia must triple its “shameful” intake of asylum seekers and refugees within five years, to 42,000, to help address the global humanitarian crisis.
Oxfam chief executive Dr Helen Szoke said Australia was in a position to do more to assist the “unprecedented” number of men, women and children forced to flee their homes.
“Australia has the capacity to take in more refugees and, as one of the world’s wealthy countries, must do its share to address the global migration crisis,” Szoke said.
“The UN has confirmed the number of forcibly displaced people globally is rising and now stands at 65 million. This is the highest number of people forced to flee their homes since WWII.”
According to the United Nations, there are 21.3 million refugees worldwide, up from 19.5 in 2014, 3.2 million asylum seekers and 40.8 million people displaced within their own countries.
Australia is the 12th richest nation, yet has taken in only 0.2 per cent of the world’s refugees and asylum seekers.
“Based on Australia’s economy, population and the increasing wave of people seeking refuge across the globe, Australia can and must commit to increasing Australia’s humanitarian intake from 13,750 this year to 42,000 by 2020/21,” Szoke said.
“Last year, Germany hosted more than one million refugees and asylum seekers – 1.3 per cent of its population. We’re asking Australia to take 42,000 people, which is 0.18 per cent of our population.”
The government has only committed to marginally increasing its permanent places each year, to 18,750 in 2018/19.
However, Oxfam is calling for an immediate but gradual increase in Australia’s humanitarian intake to 20,000 people this year, then 25,000, 30,000, 36,000 and 42,000 in the following years.
Szoke also said Australia needed to increase its foreign aid funding.
“Australian humanitarian funding to assist countries such as Jordan and Lebanon, which are hosting big refugee populations and are stretched beyond their limits, must also be boosted,” she said.
According to a recent Oxfam analysis, collectively, wealthy countries haven’t done enough to adequately assist in the humanitarian crisis.
It found the world’s six wealthiest countries – the US, China, Japan, Germany, the UK and France – representing almost two-thirds of global GDP, hosted less than 9 per cent of the world’s refugees.
Comparatively, the six countries and territories hosting half the world’s refugees and asylum seekers represented just 1.9 per cent of global GDP.
Developing countries host 86 per cent of the world’s refugees, with Turkey, Pakistan and Lebanon each hosting more than one million.
“The worldwide humanitarian crisis is far too big for any one country to fix alone. The time has come for Australia to accept its share of responsibility and play a role in a global solution,” Szoke said.
The organisation also said the Australian Government needed to be more transparent about its commitment – made almost a year ago – to resettle an additional 12,000 Syrian and Iraqi refugees.
It’s currently unknown how many refugees have arrived in Australia so far, and Oxfam said the government should provide a timeframe for when the promise would be met in full.
The call coincides with World Humanitarian Day on 19 August. This year’s theme, One Humanity, recognises aid workers who risk their lives every day.
“Treating fellow humans who are fleeing brutal wars, persecution and human rights abuses with compassion and dignity as they search for hope and safety is the right thing to do,” Szoke said.