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Australian Current Affairs

Australia will take 500 refugees from Syria


Syrian refugees who fled the violence in Syria at a refugee camp in Arbil, north of Baghdad

Syrian refugees who fled the violence in Syria at a refugee camp in Arbil, north of Baghdad

The Coalition government will set aside 500 places for Syrian refugees in response to an appeal from the United Nations Refugee agency for help accommodating the displaced Syrians.

Immigration Minister Scott Morrison announced on Thursday that “a further 500” Syrian refugees will be settled in Australia in 2013-14.

The places will come from within the government’s existing humanitarian program.

“The government’s policy of denying permanent visas to those who arrived illegally by boat will enable Australia to continue offering targeted resettlement to those most in need,” Mr Morrison said in a statement.

The Abbott government has pledged to renew the focus on places for refugees waiting overseas, as opposed to asylum seekers who come to Australia by boat.

It has also promised to reduce the annual humanitarian intake from the 20,000 places per year offered by Labor to 13,750.

The government’s Syria announcement followed an appeal from High Commissioner for Refugees, Antonio Guterres, on Monday, who asked the international community to do more to assist with the “unrelenting flood of Syrian refugees”.

Mr Guterres argued that Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt were hosting more than 2.1 million registered Syrian refugees and were “stretched to their limits”.

Opposition immigration spokesman Tony Burke told Fairfax Media on Thursday that Labor supported the places for Syrian refugees.

“There’s never a number that’s enough,” he said, given the scale of the refugee problem.

Last September, then immigration minister Chris Bowen announced 1000 places for refugees caught up in the conflict in Syria.

In 2012-13, 15.9 per cent of those granted visas through Australia’s offshore humanitarian program had applied from within Syria, totalling 1987 people.

More than 7000 people applied from within Syria – although these numbers do not take into account Syrians who applied from other countries.

Earlier this week, Mr Morrison warned that Australia would not tolerate people using the Syrian conflict as a “cover” to come to Australia for economic migration, following reports that Lebanese asylum seekers were being offered fake Syrian passports.

“People who are going to try and use the Syrian conflict, which is a dreadful and horrible tragedy that is unfolding before us there, as some sort of cover to come to Australia for economic migration, we’re just not going to cop it,” he told Macquarie Radio.

Source: Sydney Morning Herald – Coalition to prioritise 500 Syrians as part of refugee intake
 

About Craig Hill

Social Justice Campaigner. Business and Education Consultant. Former Business/ESL Teacher. Lived in China and USA. Dealing with disability. My articles have been cited in New York Times, BBC, Fox News, Aljazeera, Philippines Star, South China Morning Post, National Interest, news.com.au, Wikipedia and many other international publications.

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