Media Release – Refugee Council of Australia: Australia’s harmful policies exacerbating refugee challenges…

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Australia’s harmful policies exacerbating refugee challenges as global displacement reaches record levels


19 JUNE 2015. The number of people forcibly displaced by persecution and conflict has increased by 8.3 million in just 12 months, growing to its highest level since World War II, the UN’s Refugee Agency’s (UNHCR) annual Global Trends report published today reveals.

The UNHCR report shows 59.5 million people were forcibly displaced at the end of 2014, 8.3 million more than in 2013. Globally, the number of refugees grew from 16.7 million to 19.5 million, half of them children.

“One in every 122 people in the world are now displaced from their homes and Australia’s draconian approach to refugees and asylum seekers is only making matters worse,” says Refugee Council of Australia CEO, Paul Power.

“For years, we have had successive Australian governments pretend that our national response should be to take tough action to try to deter desperate people from seeking our help. While boats might not be reaching Australia at the moment, tragically more people are at risk than at any point in the past 70 years and people are continuing to die on dangerous journeys – just in other parts of the world.

“Australia’s unilateral approach to what is unequivocally a massive international challenge is completely unsustainable.

“While our government is spending billions of taxpayer dollars on boat turn-backs, indefinite detention and policies which harm vulnerable people, three nations, Turkey, Lebanon and Pakistan, are hosting more than one million refugees each. These nations need as much help as we can muster”, said Mr Power.

“Australia’s political leadership needs to stop insulting the intelligence of the Australian people and muddying our nation’s international reputation with simplistic and harmful rhetoric about people seeking protection from persecution. We need needs Australia as part of the solution, rather than as a major obstacle to more effective international responses,” Mr Power said.

“Our primary focus must be on supporting the nations in the front line of asylum seeker movements, doing everything we possibly can to support them through international aid, logistic support and resettlement offers. Our focus should be on trying to increase the level of protection for refugees in countries of first asylum, providing constructive alternatives to dangerous onward journeys in search of real safety,” Mr Power said.

On average, every single day last year 42,500 men, women and children became refugees, asylum seekers or were displaced in their own countries.

According to UNHCR, the growing number of displaced people continues to be driven by war, conflict and persecution including the devastating war in Syria.

The majority of refugees are currently being hosted by developing countries and UNHCR estimates that around one million refugees are in urgent need of a resettlement place.

UNHCR’s statistics show:

·         Australia assisted 14,350 refugees in the 2014 calendar year through its asylum and resettlement processes, a reduction of 3,854 places on the previous year.

·         Australia assisted just 0.43% of the 3.37 million refugees recognised or resettled during 2014.

For more information, including the full statistical tables with Australian focused component contact Tim O’Connor 0488 035 535


Updated: June 24, 2015 — 11:05 am
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