For release: 27 March 2015

The Australian Christian Lobby has urged the Abbott Government to back a bi-partisan proposal from the Liberal's Philip Ruddock and Labor's Chris Hayes to accept more refugees from Iraq and Syria.

ACL Managing Director Lyle Shelton said the Christian constituency had been calling on the government to do more since the start of the Syrian conflict as news filtered out of the persecution of Christians and other religious minorities.

"While the government is to be applauded for the small increases in the refugee intake, the crisis is of such magnitude that a Kosovo-style solution proposed by Mr Ruddock and Mr Hayes is warranted.

"Religious cleansing of Christians, Yazidis and Shia Muslims is ongoing in Iraq and Syria. Countries like Australia need to do more; this is a desperate situation for many.”

“The Australian Government’s past policy on Kosovo in 1999 was a success as most refugees were returned home post-conflict. Similarly, Syrian and Iraqi refugees could be returned home if the situation eased, but that means the defeat of ISIL.

"Almost 20,000 ACL supporters last year signed a petition calling on the Government to accept more refugees from the crisis.

"Australia's annual humanitarian intake should at least be doubled to help the victims of religious persecution.”

Mr Shelton said ACL was frustrated that victims fleeing Islamic State terror could not be considered eligible for refugee status in Australia because they had not yet crossed a national border.

"There is too much inflexibility in our system," Mr Shelton said, “these people are fleeing death, we cannot stand by and ignore them.”