TWO years ago the Australian government showed genuine humanitarian leadership in welcoming an emergency intake of an extra 12,000 Syrian refugees but for millions the crisis continues, World Vision Director of Policy and Advocacy, Susan Anderson said on Friday, September 15.
Speaking on the eve of the second anniversary of the government’s announcement, Ms Anderson said the decision had changed the lives of the refugees.
“In 2015 Australians were so moved by images of refugees fleeing the conflict in Syria that our government announced an emergency intake of 12,000 additional refugees. Two years have passed and all 12,000 people we welcomed to our community are now safe and free from the tyranny of displacement.
“But the conflict in Syria goes on and there are now more people displaced globally than at any time in human history, with a further 6 million* people displaced in the past two years according to the most recent UNHCR figures,” Ms Anderson said.
“The special intake demonstrated that we can do more. We call on the Government to increase our regular annual intake to 42,000 people – which is nothing more than our fair share, given that developing countries are currently hosting more than 90 per cent of the world’s 65.6 million displaced people.”
Ms Anderson said that with climate change, famine and ongoing conflict driving populations out of their homelands, this crisis won’t end any time soon. The vast majority of refugees and displaced people are women and children.
“The number of refugees crossing from South Sudan into Uganda recently passed one million. Many of these were unaccompanied children who have seen their parents slaughtered in horrible circumstances.
“In Australia we have a proud history of helping our neighbours when disasters hit but our relationship to refugees has been poisoned by domestic political concerns,” Ms Anderson said. “We urgently need to re-frame this debate.”
Ms Anderson pointed out that no-one chooses to be a refugee.
“Leaving your home is always a last resort. Imagine being forced to turn your back on everything you know, to walk away from your dreams and to abandon your home. Australia can be a new home to more people in that situation. We’ve already shown that we can do it!”
*According to the UHNCR Global Trends Report, the number of people displaced at the end of 2014, as reported in June 2015, was 59.5 million people. This has increased to 65.6 million at the end of 2016, reported this year. These are the most recent figures.
Story Source: World Vision Australia