The Australian Red Cross has welcomed the federal government’s decision to spend $44 million on humanitarian aid and to open up an extra 12,000 places for people fleeing conflict and persecution in Syria and Iraq.
But the organisation has warned that more may need to be done once the immediate needs of refugees are taken care of
‘This is a significant response to a longstanding humanitarian crisis that has quite rightly gripped the world’s attention in recent days, and both components are vital,’ said Australian Red Cross director of services and international operations Michael Raper.
‘There are more than four million Syrians displaced and in need of massive immediate support in surrounding Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan.
‘More will no doubt be needed shortly, but $44m now will help this very vulnerable group enormously. Taking an extra 12,000 refugees into Australia (on top of the current annual intake of around 13,000) will make a significant local contribution to addressing this global crisis and will no doubt be warmly welcomed throughout Australia as has always been the case in similar situations,’ said Mr Raper.
‘Red Cross is already exploring ways we can provide support and looking into what role we might be able to play.’
Red Cross has worked with vulnerable migrants in Australia for 100 years, and has provided support during similar situations, for example when Australia provided safe haven to Kosovar refugees in 1999.
‘Refugees and people seeking asylum, in Australia and around the world, need our help,’ Mr Raper said.
‘They are some of the most vulnerable people in our communities today; very often they are facing severe hardship and very limited choices.
‘Red Cross works with people based on need regardless of how they arrived in Australia or their visa status. This includes supporting people living in the community who have arrived in Australia seeking protection, checking on the welfare of people in immigration detention and reconnecting loved ones separated by migration, war and disaster’ Mr Raper said.
To make a donation to the Red Cross Syria Crisis Appeal or support our work with Refugees and Asylum Seekers in Crisis in Australia visit redcross.org.au or phone 1800 811 700.