Advocates slam Coalition over refugee intake
"It was extremely disappointing that up to 4000
applicants waiting in the queue missed out on places in this program":
Scott Morrison. Photo: Wolter Peeters
Australia will quarantine one-third of its humanitarian
program for Iraqis and Syrians fleeing the violence of terror group
Islamic State, but refugee advocates have condemned the government for
reducing its refugee intake despite the growing crisis in the Middle
Sweden has announced it will take unlimited numbers of Syrian
refugees and Germany said it would take an additional 10,000, bringing
its intake to 20,000. Norway will accept an extra 1000.
Australia reduced its humanitarian program refugee intake last year from 20,000 to 13,750.
"This is phoney generosity, trying to mask the fact
that Australia has cut its refugee intake from 20,000 to 13,750": Ian
Rintoul. Photo: Louie Douvis
For this financial year, 4,400 of those 13,750 places will be
reserved for Iraqis and Syrians who have fled violence and genocide in
Immigration minister Scott Morrison said more places were
available under Australia’s special humanitarian program (a sub-category
of the humanitarian program) because of the government's "success
... in stopping the flow of boats”.
“It was extremely disappointing that up to 4,000 applicants
waiting in the queue missed out on places in this program, and that
their places were being taken up by those who had arrived illegally by
boat. This practice has ended under the Abbott Government,,” Mr Morrison
But Refugee Action Coalition spokesman Ian Rintoul said there were no extra refugee places in Mr Morrison’s announcement .
“This is phoney generosity, trying to mask the fact that
Australia has cut its refugee intake from 20,000 to 13,750. This is not a
humanitarian response, this is hiding the fact that we are accepting
fewer refugees than we were.”
Mr Rintoul also condemned the “false dichotomy” of separating
refugees who received visas to Australia offshore from those who
reached Australia by boat.
“It’s blatantly hypocritical. We say we will resettle Yazidis
from northern Iraq, but if those people were on a boat they would be
locked up offshore.”
David Manne, from the Refugee and Immigration Legal Centre,
said while Australia’s commitment to fulfilling its humanitarian intake
was welcomed, the program needed to be urgently restored to 20,000
places and even expanded.
“The fact of the matter is that behind the rhetoric,
Australia has reduced its humanitarian intake at a time when there has
never been greater need in the world for humanitarian protection.
Currently, more than 50 million people are refugees or displaced within
their own countries,'' Mr Manne said..”
Human Rights Law Centre director Daniel Webb said the
reserved places for Iraqi and Syrian refugees in the Middle East exposed
the “senseless cruelty” of offshore processing of those from the same
countries who arrived by boat.
“It’s a complete misrepresentation to say that we are only
able to accept these refugees because we’ve denied protection to
others,'' Mr Webb said.
Ongoing violence in the Middle East has sparked mass movements of refugees.
In recent days, up to 35,000 Iraqi Yazidis have fled Islamic
State-led genocide, many escaping from Mount Sinjar through Syria to
camps in the autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan.
The three-year Syrian civil war has forced up to
two-and-a-half million civilians to escape that country, mainly for
camps in Jordan and Lebanon.
Australia is the third largest ''third-country’' resettler of
refugees in the world, behind the US and Canada. But fewer than 1 per
cent of the world’s refugees are resettled in a third country.
In absolute terms, Australia ranks 49th in the world for refugee intake, and 69th in the world on a refugees per capita basis.