Joint media release - The Hon Tony Abbott MP, Prime Minister, the Hon Julie Bishop MP, Minister for Foreign Affairs and the Hon Peter Dutton MP, Minister for Immigration and Border Protection
The Australian Government will consult with our international partners on possible further assistance for the humanitarian crisis in the Middle East and Europe.
The scale of the dislocation of people in Syria and northern Iraq and the unfolding crisis in the Mediterranean requires further international response.
While Europe remains the frontline for the unprecedented movement of people, millions more are suffering in refugee camps in nations bordering the conflict in Syria and Iraq.
This week the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, the Hon Peter Dutton, will travel to Geneva for urgent discussions with the UNHCR and other partners.
The Government is considering what further significant contribution we can make through our Humanitarian Programme to resettle those affected by the conflict in Syria and Iraq.
Our focus will be on families and women and children, especially of persecuted minorities, who have sought refuge in camps neighbouring Syria and Iraq.
Last financial year Australia settled more than 4,400 people from Syria and Iraq – accounting for 30 per cent of the 13,750 places under the Humanitarian Programme.
Vulnerable women and their dependents from Syria and Iraq have also been able to benefit from the more than 1,000 visas which have been granted under the Woman at Risk programme.
Australia, on a per capita basis, is the UNHCR’s leading nation for the permanent resettlement of refugees and the Government is increasing our humanitarian programme from 13,750 places per annum to 18,750 by 2018/19.
As a result of the Government’s success in stopping illegal boat arrivals to Australia, we are now in a position to take more refugees from offshore refugee camps.
The Government is also considering further funding for humanitarian assistance to those seeking refuge in refugee camps.
This will add to the $155 million already provided in response to the Syria crisis since 2011.
Around half of this assistance has been delivered inside Syria with the remainder provided to neighbouring countries to assist both refugees and their host communities.
It has delivered food, water, healthcare, education, emergency supplies and protection, including support for women and girls.
The aid is delivered through various UN agencies and international humanitarian organisations and includes (but is not limited to):
$40 million for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
$26 million to the World Food Program (WFP)
$23 million to the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF)
$13 million to Australian NGOs including CARE, Oxfam, Save the Children and World Vision
$7 million to the World Health Organisation (WHO).