Australia an international bludger on refugees

Bidibidi refugee settlement, Uganda (Image Credit: World Vision Australia).

ON World Refugee Day, June 20, Australia’s largest humanitarian agency, World Vision, calls for Australia to do more to ease human suffering in a world teeming with refugees.

World Vision Australia chief advocate Tim Costello said that while Australia postured as a good international citizen: “The reality is that we are bludgers compared to what we could be doing as a wealthy nation to assist the 65.6 million people who have been forcibly displaced from their homes, including 22.5 million refugees, more than half of whom are children.

“More than 10 million people were newly displaced this year.”

Mr Costello said that at a time when the global refugee crisis had become epic in scale, Australia was ranked 59th in the world for the number of refugees hosted as a proportion of population and 95th as a proportion of GDP, while 90 per cent of the world’s refugees were being hosted by developing countries that border conflict zones or fragile states, including Turkey, Uganda, Ethiopia, Jordan, Lebanon and Pakistan – low-to-middle income countries.

Aid has also been slashed in several successive Federal Budgets so that Australia has slid down the rankings to 17th out of the 29 OECD countries that provide aid.

“Visiting Uganda recently, I was profoundly moved to witness how this relatively poor nation has welcomed hundreds of thousands of South Sudanese fleeing famine and war,” Mr Costello said. “How can it be that such a poor country does so much to shoulder the humanitarian load when we, rich and prosperous … do not?

“We need to do a lot better if we want to earn our claim of being generous.

“In a world in which one in every 113 people has been displaced – 24 people every minute – Australia can help by increasing our level of aid and we can also welcome more refugees who are fleeing persecution and conflict and give them the chance to rebuild their lives,” Mr Costello said.

World Vision has called on the Australian Government to lift Australia’s annual humanitarian intake of refugees to 42,000 people from 16,250 (boosted to 27,600 with a special intake of Syrian and Iraqi refugees); end offshore detention and resettle those found to be refugees in Australia; help those countries hosting the most refugees with more multi-year humanitarian and development assistance; and protect the rights of children in new Global Compacts on Refugees and Migration.

Story Source: World Vision Australia