The Australian Christian Lobby has renewed its longstanding call for the federal government to double the humanitarian intake.
ACL Managing Director Lyle Shelton said a weighting should be given to Christians and other persecuted religious minorities who were suffering a genocide against them in the Middle East and parts of Asia and Africa.
Mr Shelton said while the Greens policy to raise the intake to 50,000 per year was probably unrealistic, Australia could and should be more generous and a doubling of the intake to 27,400 was a better balance.
“While Australia has done the right thing in providing 12,000 places for persecuted Syrians, the crisis confronting persecuted religious minorities is acute.
“Australia needs to better focus the attention of the refugee intake on minority groups such as Christians, Yazidis, Zoroastrains and Jews who face little prospect of re-settlement in the Middle East.
“We are witnessing the biggest humanitarian crisis since World War II so a policy to reflect our concern is required by both Labor and Coalition.
“While the one-off increase of 12,000 Syrians is welcome, we should not leave our annual humanitarian intake at its current level. People smuggling has been halted, now it is time to do more to help those who are languishing in camps and unable to be resettled because of persecution.
“We encourage the Labor and Coalition to double the annual humanitarian intake to 27,400 as part of Australia’s efforts to shoulder more of the burden given that we are a wealthy country with the capacity to help people suffering from religious from persecution.”
In response to the persecution of Christians and other religious minorities by Islamic State, more than 20,000 ACL supporters signed a petition in 2014 urging then Abbott Government to double the refugee intake.
“It has been pleasing to see that Christians have been at the forefront of building community consensus for the government to do more to assist refugees,” Mr Shelton said.
“While it is expensive to resettle refugees, the magnitude of the crisis, particularly in the Middle East, warranted Australia doing more.”
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