Australia must triple its annual humanitarian intake within five years in the face of the unprecedented number of men, women and children forced to flee their homes, international aid agency Oxfam said today.
Oxfam Chief Executive Helen Szoke said Australia was the 12th richest nation on earth, yet hosted a shameful 0.2 per cent of the world’s refugees and asylum seekers.
“Australia has the capacity to take in more refugees and as one of the world’s wealthy countries must do its share to address the global migration crisis,” Dr Szoke said.
“Based on Australia’s economy, population and the increasing wave of people seeking refuge across the globe, Australia can and must commit to increasing Australia’s humanitarian intake from 13,750 this year to 42,000 by 2020-21,” Dr Szoke said.
“Last year, Germany hosted more than one million refugees and asylum seekers – 1.3 per cent of its population. We’re asking Australia to take 42,000 people, which is 0.18 per cent of our population.
“The UN has confirmed the number of forcibly displaced people globally is rising and now stands at 65 million. This is the highest number of people forced to flee their homes since WWII.”
Oxfam’s call for Australia to increase its intake of people desperately searching for protection coincides with World Humanitarian Day on 19 August. This year’s event, which recognises aid workers who risk their lives every day, is being celebrated under the theme of “One Humanity”.
“Treating fellow humans who are fleeing brutal wars, persecution and human rights abuses with compassion and dignity as they search for hope and safety is the right thing to do,” Dr Szoke said.
Dr Szoke said Oxfam was calling for an immediate but gradual increase in Australia’s humanitarian intake to 20,000 people this year, then 25,000, 30,000, 36,000 and 42,000 in the following years.
The Government also had an obligation to provide details on meeting its commitment to resettle an additional 12,000 Syrian and Iraqi refugees in Australia. So far, there had been a lack of transparency as to how many of these refugees have arrived in Australia or any firm commitment as to when the promise – made nearly a year ago – would be met in full.
Dr Szoke said a recent Oxfam analysis found the world’s top six wealthiest countries, which had almost two-thirds of global GDP, hosted less than 9 per cent of the world’s refugees. By stark contrast, the six countries and territories hosting half the world’s refugees and asylum seekers represented just 1.9 per cent of global GDP.
“Australian humanitarian funding to assist countries such as Jordan and Lebanon, which are hosting big refugee populations and are stretched beyond their limits, must also be boosted,” Dr Szoke said.
“The worldwide humanitarian crisis is far too big for any one country to fix alone. The time has come for Australia to accept its share of responsibility and play a role in a global solution.”
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