Prime Minister Tony Abbott has been urged to increase the number of Syrian refugees that the country takes in after more heartbreaking photos and reports about their plight circulate.
One especially haunting photo was that of a dead Syrian toddler on a Turkish beach. This prompted influencers worldwide to send out more desperate pleas for help.
Mr. Abbott has responded to these pleas, saying that he is willing to accept more refugees as long as the number stays within the bounds of the current humanitarian intake. He clarifies, however, that the current total refugee intake of 13,750 will not be increased. Instead, he will only be increasing the percentage allotted to refugees coming from Syria out of the total number.
Numbers from last year show that Australia had already accepted 4,400 people from the Iraqi and Syrian regions. The annual intake is also seen to increase to 18,750 by the year 2018.
Immigration Minister Peter Dutton is also scheduled to leave for the United Nations headquarters in Geneva this Sunday so that he can get more information on further help that may be required from the Australian government.
Increasing a percentage not enough, says Opposition
Despite Mr. Abbott’s commitment to extending help in any way he can, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten believes that the measure Abbott proposes will not be enough. As such, he has called on the government to completely lift the overall refugee intake.
“We can take more refugees in Australia,” he says, “We should also provide greater resources to the UN High Commission for Refugees.”
During its July national conference, Labor agreed that the current refugee intake will increase to 27,500 by 2025. The Greens however, want the government to accept as much as 20,000 refugees immediately.
Provide safe havens and temporary visas, says Bishop
Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop is yet to commit to supporting the increase in refugee intake, but she believes that creating safe havens within the Syrian territory would greatly help as well.
“We can set up safe havens Within Syria and Iraq for those who do not want to leave their country but would like to be kept safe from terrorist attacks,” she suggests.
Imitating what the Howard government did for the Kosovar refugees in 1999 is also an option that was suggested. This involves issuing temporary visas to refugees.
New South Wales and South Australian Premiers Mike Baird and Jay Weatherill, meanwhile, has called on the government to act promptly. They also believe that surely, more can be done for the persecuted and the poor.
Special thanks to News.com.au for the main image.