The Australian Government has failed to make any announcement in support of refugees seeking safety just days out from two major meetings on the global migration crisis in New York, international aid agency Oxfam said today.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull will join other world leaders at the UN Summit for Refugees and Migrants and the US President Obama’s Leaders’ Summit on 19 and 20 September.
Despite the growing pressure internationally, Oxfam’s humanitarian advocacy lead Dr Nicole Bieske said there’s been radio silence from the Australian Government to date.
“President Obama made it clear that countries invited to attend his Leaders’ Summit need to “pay to play” and bring significant new commitments to accept more refugees and increase humanitarian funding. This funding is needed so that the tens of millions of people forced from their homes in this unprecedented global crisis could be assured of access to food, clean water and education,” Dr Bieske said.
“Given our prosperity, as one of the richest nations on earth – the 12th wealthiest country in the world -it’s shameful that we host only 0.2% of the world’s refugees and asylum seekers.
“It’s embarrassing that Australia has failed to make any new commitments to support some of the 65 million people that have been forcibly displaced. These are ordinary men, women and children who have been forced to flee their homes in a desperate search for protection and a future and they are in dire need of assistance.”
Dr Bieske said Australia’s efforts are paltry when compared to other wealthy nations.
“Canada completed security checks and settled 25,000 additional Syrian refugees in just four months, meanwhile in the last year our Government has only resettled a fraction of the special intake of 12,000 Syrians and Iraqis agreed to,” Dr Bieske said.
“We cannot ignore the capacity of our nation to do more and we call on the Prime Minister to make a significant commitment at the Obama Summit, showing bold leadership and compassion for people fleeing war and persecution.
“The Government can play a constructive role in helping to find global solutions to the migration crisis and commit to increasing Australia’s humanitarian intake from 13,750 this year to 42,000 by 2020-21. This is a reasonable ask based on Australia’s economy, population and the increasing numbers of people seeking refuge across the globe.”
The Australian Government must also resettle all of the 12,000 Syrian and Iraqi refugees they agreed to take in a year ago by the first quarter of 2017 and provide further humanitarian funding to countries hosting large refugee populations such as Jordan, Lebanon and others.
Dr Bieske said it was particularly important for new pledges to be made at the Leaders’ Summit, given the outcomes of the recent meetings to prepare for the separate UN Summit were appallingly weak.
“Negotiations for the outcomes of the UN Summit on September 19 have already been completed and were very disappointing, with many countries unwilling to do more to help. States focused on self-interest while more lives were lost on ever more dangerous routes to safety,” Dr Bieske said.