‘Australia to accept 12,000 more refugees’
Australia will take an extra 12,000 asylum seekers displaced due to the crisis in the Middle East, says the country’s prime minister.
“Australia will resettle an additional 12,000 refugees from the Syria/Iraq conflict,” Tony Abbott told reporters in the Australian capital, Canberra, on Wednesday.
The figure would be on top of the existing 13,750 refugees accepted this year.
Abbott said the emphasis would be placed on providing protection for women, children and families from “persecuted minorities” who live in temporary camps in Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey.
“Our focus is on the persecuted minorities who have been displaced and are very unlikely ever to be able to go back to their original homes.”
The Australian government will send officials to the region to begin working with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to “identify potential candidates for resettlement,” the premier said.
Abbott further noted that Canberra will pay some USD 31 million to support 240,000 displaced people in countries neighboring Syria and Iraq.
Abbott’s remarks came after European countries saw themselves faced with a large wave of asylum seekers, mainly from conflict-hit countries like Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan, who have been forced to flee their homes in a bid to seek refuge in Europe. Most of the refugees land in Italy or Greece and then head for the wealthier countries of northern Europe by transiting through countries in Eastern Europe and the Balkans, like Macedonia, Serbia and Hungary.