Thursday, 4th July, 2013

The Australian Christian Lobby has renewed calls for Australia’s humanitarian intake to give greater weighting to vulnerable minorities, particularly those displaced by the conflict in Syria and the wider Middle East.

Managing Director Lyle Shelton said the debate opened up this week by the new Rudd Cabinet about the refugee program is an opportunity to again assess whether vulnerable ethnic and religious minorities were getting a fair go.

“A fresh look at our humanitarian program by the new leadership is warranted in order to ensure public confidence in it,” Mr Shelton said.

ACL supported the Government increasing the intake from 13,000 per year to 20,000 per year.

“There are around 1,000,000 Syrian refugees in Lebanon including those from vulnerable Syrian minority groups such as Alawites, Christians and Druze. Many of these have lost confidence in the UNHCR processes and were not registering because it locked them into a slow and arduous process.

“ACL would like to see some flexibility in our humanitarian program so that an allocation could be made for some of these people,” Mr Shelton said.

“ACL believes a greater weighting system should be applied to vulnerable persecuted minorities to ensure that they have a fair chance of being eligible for placement in Australia.

“It is important that our humanitarian program is calibrated towards people who are in the greatest need,” Mr Shelton said.