Sydney – The Australian Government should take in more refugees from Syria after it was announced that 12,000 visas were successfully provided to Syrian and Iraqi refugees in a resettlement programme, refugees advocacy group, Oxfam, said on Tuesday.
“Oxfam welcomes the Australian government’s announcement that visas have been provided to all of the 12,000 Syrian and Iraqi refugees to be resettled under the 2015 commitment,’’ Nicole Bieske, the Humanitarian Policy Advisor of Oxfam Australia, said in a statement.
The civil war in Syria, which was highlighted last week with alleged use of chemical weapons on civilians by the Syrian military, has a seen more than five million persons forced to leave their homes.
The successful one-off resettlement programme aimed to settle 12,000 of Syrian and Iraqi refugees was first announced by then-prime minister Tony Abbott in September 2015, in addition to the country’s annual humanitarian intake of 13,750.
Bieske said that “considering the success’’ of the resettlement, as well as the ongoing conflict and humanitarian crises in the both the countries, Australia should resettle more Syrian and Iraqi refugees.
She also warned against “the increasingly restrictive policies being enacted toward refugees in the U.S., United Kingdom and EU.’’
“I would like to see Australia doing much more to accept Syrian refugees that have been assessed as such and provide more support in local communities to assist their settling into Australia,” Bob Bowker, Australia’s former Ambassador to Syria, told Guardian Australia.
“Our response needs to be based on our common humanity, not on the basis of religious affiliation.’’
The programme has faced some controversy because while identifying persecuted minorities for resettlement, it was alleged that Australia had preference Christians over refugees of other religions or sects.