Oxfam welcomes Government u-turn on refugee compassion

Emergencies, Humanitarian Advocacy, Media Releases, News article written on the 09 Sep 2015

Oxfam has welcomed the Australian Government’s u-turn on compassion for refugees with its announcement of a one-off intake of 12,000 refugees from Syria and Iraq, and an additional $44 million in humanitarian funding for the Syria crisis, but said it was disappointed that the government hadn’t gone further.

Oxfam Acting Chief Executive Pam Anders said the Australian Government’s announcement was a bold move in the right direction, and reflected the depth of public sentiment on the issue.

“Given this country’s prosperity, as one of the richest nations on earth, we can and must do more,” Ms Anders said.

“When you look at the scale of the problem, with 60 million people forcibly displaced from their homes globally, you can’t help but be struck by the fact that we need to do everything we possibly can to help.”

Earlier this week, Oxfam, World Vision and Save the Children called on the Australian Government to increase the country’s overall humanitarian intake of refugees to 30,000 in response to the global refugee crisis. The new commitment of 12,000 places for Syrian and Iraqi refugees will take this year’s overall intake close to this figure, reaching 25,750.

“This is a welcome increase to our refugee intake, however rather than being a one-off response, this should be the norm. We urge the government to increase our annual intake of humanitarian refugees to 30,000 on an ongoing basis,” Ms Anders said.

“We are so often referred to as the lucky country, but really we have no idea how lucky we are. Most have easy access to food, water, shelter and safety. For millions of people around the world who used to be in the same position, these are now luxuries.”

The additional funding of $44 million to the UN will make a big difference to those displaced by this protracted crisis, but there is still room for further assistance. Oxfam’s analysis shows that Australia’s remaining fair share of funding for the Syria crisis and regional response for this year is around $144 million, which represents just 0.033% of the total Federal Budget. This leaves a gap of around $100 million.

Oxfam is on the ground in Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan providing desperately needed emergency assistance. We’ve reached more than 1.3 million people with clean drinking water, hygiene and sanitation programs, as well cash and relief supplies.

To support Oxfam’s humanitarian response the public can donate to Oxfam Australia’s Syria Crisis Appeal by calling 1800 034 034 or visiting www.oxfam.org.au

For interviews or more information, please contact Angus Hohenboken on 0428 367 318 or angush@oxfam.org.au