Leading aid agencies: Australia must increase overall refugee intake

Emergencies, Humanitarian Advocacy, Media Releases, News article written on the 08 Sep 2015

As the global refugee crisis continues to deepen, three leading aid agencies have joined forces to call on the Australian Government to extend its compassion for Syrian refugees to others, to ensure good intentions for one region don’t prolong suffering in other areas.

Oxfam, World Vision and Save the Children placed an advertisement in The Australian newspaper today, calling on the Australian Government to urgently increase the country’s overall humanitarian intake of refugees to 30,000 in response to the global refugee crisis.

The call comes after the government announced it 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,” Ms 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 4 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.”

Currently it is the countries who can least afford it that are doing the most to house those fleeing for their safety. The world’s poorer countries currently host 86% 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.

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.”

World Vision, Save the Children and Oxfam have been providing life-saving humanitarian assistance to Syrians since the conflict started. But 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 at syriacrisis.com.au

For interviews or further information please contact:

Oxfam – Angus Hohenboken 0428367318 angush@oxfam.org.au

World Vision – Jess Ciccotelli 0402 971 225 jessica.ciccotelli@worldvision.com.au

Save The Children – Olivia Zinzan 0416 355 851 olivia.zinzan@savethechildren.org.au