Prime Minister Turnbull’s refugee announcements are a good start – but more must be done

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s announcement that Australia will permanently maintain its annual humanitarian intake of 18,750 is a good start - but must not mask the ‘elephant in the room’ that is the desperate plight of refugees on Manus Island and Nauru.

Director of the Edmund Rice Centre and President of the Refugee Council of Australia, Phil Glendenning, has welcomed the Prime Minister’s long overdue announcements overnight, including the resettling of refugees from Central America, an increase in funding for international refugee programs and a permanent increase in our humanitarian intake to 18,750.
 
“These announcements are a good start, but they must only be the first steps in our response to the global refugee crisis,” Mr Glendenning said.
 
“Australia must play its role in building durable solutions for displaced people around the world – safe return to countries of origin, integration in host countries and resettlement.
 
“Increasing our humanitarian intake and providing more funding for refugee programs are important steps in building durable solutions, but more can be done.
 
“A humanitarian intake of 18,750 is still less than the 27,000 that was recommended by the Panel of Experts report handed by Angus Houston, Paris Aristotle and Michael l’Estrange in 2012.
 
“A $130 million increase in funding for international refugee programs is insignificant compared with the $9.6 billion spent by the Government on its offshore detention program since 2013.
 
“These announcements cannot be used to ignore the ‘elephant in the room’ that is the plight of refugees on Manus Island and Nauru.
 
“The people in centres on Manus Island and Nauru cannot be allowed to suffer one day longer.
 
“If the Government was serious about its role in responding to the global refugee crisis, it would immediately resettle refugees currently living on Manus Island and Nauru in Australia or countries like New Zealand which have made resettlement offers,” Mr Glendenning concluded.  

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