Today (September 9) it was announced that Australia has agreed to resettle 12,000 refugees from the Syria-Iraq conflict. These will be permanent resettlement places, over and above Australia’s current refugee intake. Yesterday we called for a significant response to the Syrian refugee crisis and STARTTS welcomes today’s extremely positive development.
STARTTS is particularly heartened to hear that these places will be targeted towards the most vulnerable – women, children and families. We are also pleased to hear that an additional $44 million in aid will be delivered to refugees in Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan – providing direct aid to refugees in these countries can have an extremely powerful impact.
STARTTS applauds the government’s action to allow many more refugees to find safety on our shores. We must not forget however that these people have endured loss, violence and trauma of the worst kind. The challenge that now lies ahead of us is to ensure that they are given the services they need to recover and heal, and that they are afforded every chance to thrive in their new country.
Our earlier statement – 08.08.15
In recent weeks the world has been moved by the increasingly desperate situation of refugees trying to reach a place of safety – whether that be people trying to find a home in Western Europe, or people simply fleeing danger in Syria or elsewhere.
And in recent days the world has been galvanised into action by the distressing photos of little Aylan Kurdi lying face down on a Turkish beach, another victim of a disastrous conflict that has already claimed far too many lives.
The saddest fact of all is that his death, and the struggles of his compatriots that we see played out in the media every day, are barely the tip of the iceberg. More than 7 million people are now displaced in Syria alone. Millions of people languish in refugee camps across Africa. Closer to home, tens of thousands of Rohingya desperately seek refuge. Close to 60 million people – the highest number ever recorded – are now displaced by conflict somewhere in the world.
This is an extraordinary situation, and requires an extraordinary response. The calls are getting louder for Australia to be part of that response. For many years STARTTS has supported an increase to Australia’s refugee intake – as is now being discussed – and we welcome this possibility.
But the world is facing a humanitarian crisis of unprecedented proportions, one which cannot be solved by one-off, temporary measures. Regional and global approaches are needed, both to address the causal factors, but also to create interim solutions to the safety and livelihood concerns that drive people across borders. It is also equally important to ensure that those that are able to make it past the many barriers and challenges to a place of safety are assisted to maintain their dignity and regain control over their lives and the chance to thrive.
Any response must be substantive, must be sustainable and must be courageous. Let us hope that we have the courage to face up to the great challenge that lies ahead.