Blueprint for Australia’s Response to Global Refugee Crisis
21 June 2017 at 1:02 pm
More than 42,000 Australians have backed a blueprint on how Australia should best respond to the global refugee crisis as “shocking” new figures reveal 20 people are displaced every minute.
The Oxfam petition, handed to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on Tuesday, called on the government to increase Australia’s intake of people seeking refuge to 30,000 by 2018/19 and then to 42,000 by 2020/21.
The Right to Refuge petition also called for increased aid to countries hosting large populations of people who have been forced to flee and for the government to treat all people seeking refuge in Australia with dignity and respect and uphold Australia’s obligations under the Refugee Convention.
Oxfam Australia humanitarian policy advisor Nicole Bieske said a resettlement program did not replace Australia’s obligation to provide protection to people who apply for asylum in Australia.
“Oxfam has continuously called for the processing centres on Manus Island and Nauru to be closed and for people found to be refugees to be brought to Australia,” Bieske said.
Bieske said in order to respond to the global refugee crisis wealthy countries around the world needed to “step up”.
“We call on governments around the world to step up and offer more support – for wealthy countries to increase the number of refugees that they resettle and the aid that they give to poorer refugee hosting nations, and for countries hosting large populations of displaced people to create environments where people can live in safety, contribute and thrive,” Bieske said.
The petition came a day after the publication of UNHCR’s annual report, released Monday, which revealed the number of refugees and displaced people has increased by about 300,000 to 65.6 million.
The UNHCR Global Trends survey revealed the conflict in Syria has displaced 12 million people overall, meaning that 65 per cent of the country’s whole population are either internally displaced or have become refugees outside the country.
According to the report South Sudan saw the fastest-growing population displacement situation in 2016, with a total of 3.3 million people having fled their homes.
The report said 20 people are newly displaced every minute of the day.
“Developing regions hosted 84 per cent of the world’s refugees under UNHCR’s mandate, with about 14.5 million people,” the report said.
“The least developed countries provided asylum to a growing proportion, with 28 per cent of the global total.”
Bieske said the scale of the global refugee crisis was “shocking” and the figures proved that more than ever people needed support.
“This massive number of displaced people – the worst since the UN started keeping its numbers – is made up of individual people who are caught in unthinkable circumstances and who have been forced to make the impossible decision to leave their homes behind to seek safety for themselves and their loved ones,” she said.
“These new numbers underscore that the global community must immediately offer stronger lifelines to these vulnerable people as they flee for their lives, and also work together to tackle the root causes of the problem.”
Bieske said “cynical politics” were at play in denying vulnerable men, women and children’s rights to refuge.
“Over the next year the world will negotiate a new UN deal on refugees and migrants and to succeed, it must commit nations to share equal responsibility for the protection of all those forced from home,” she said.