The Syrian refugee crisis did not start with the tragic drowning of three-year-old Aylan Kurdi and the images of his body being washed up on a beach.

ACL and many other groups spent years calling for the refugee intake to be increased to assist those fleeing the worst persecution.

More than 20,000 of you signed our petition one year ago urging the government to do more. Nothing happened.

But harrowing images of people crowding onto railway cars in Hungary and little Aylan’s death suddenly has everyone focussed.

Prior to this week the world has largely been indifferent to the suffering and killing of Syrian refugees in the four year-long civil war, now hi-jacked by Islamic State.

Children like Aylan have been dying along with tens of thousands of others while millions fled into neighbouring Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey.

It has become the greatest humanitarian crisis since World War II yet it has taken this week for our government to start having a conversation about increasing the humanitarian intake.

Australia takes just 13,750 refugees per year with this due to increase to 18,750 in 2018-19.

Australia can’t solve the crisis in the Middle East but given the magnitude of the humanitarian disaster unfolding over the past few years, should be doing more.

We did more in the wake of World War II, Vietnam, Cambodia and Kosovo.

The government has even ignored calls earlier this year from its own Philip Ruddock for more to be done.

If a generous increase in the number of refugees to be taken by Australia is not announced this week, expect us to re-start our campaign.

Sadly, the most persecuted people in the world are Christians with 100,000 killed per year because of their faith.

Christians have almost been completely driven out of the Middle East, apart from Egypt where the new military leader el-Sisi has restored the rule of law and protection for Coptic Christians against persecution.

ACL supports the government’s non-discriminatory approach to accepting asylum seekers but believes weighting must be given to those under the most persecution.

In Syria, that is overwhelmingly Christians feeling the brutal Islamic State.

It is so important that public policy be driven by evidence, not just emotive television images.

The evidence of a humanitarian crisis has been there for years. It just hasn’t been on TV.