Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Australia to take 12,000 refugees from Syria

Australia will accept 12,000 refugees from Syria on top of its current humanitarian intake programme, Prime Minister Tony Abbott said.

The prime minister also announced on Wednesday that Australia will extend its air strikes against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group from Iraq into neighbouring Syria.

Abbott on Sunday said Australia would allocate more spaces in its 13,750 annual intake quota to those fleeing violence in Syria, but did not plan to boost the overall intake, sparking criticism from across the political spectrum.

Under growing pressure to increase Australia's refugee intake, Abbott said the government would also pay to support 240,000 displaced people in countries neighbouring Syria and Iraq.

"Australia will resettle an additional 12,000 refugees from the Syria-Iraq conflict," Abbott told reporters in Canberra.

He said the emphasis would be on providing protection for women, children and families from persecuted minorities who have sought temporary refuge in Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey.

The prime minister said Australia's involvement in strikes against ISIL, which already take place in Iraq, could extend to Syria within days.

"Destroying this death cult is essential, not just to ending the humanitarian crisis in the Middle East but also to ending the threat to Australia and the wider world," he said.

The government said the legal basis for extending air operations into Syria was the collective self-defence of Iraq as the militant group did not respect national borders.

"We are exercising the right to collective self-defence under Article 51 of the UN charter in striking Daesh (ISIL) in Syria," Abbott said, adding that the focus of the campaign would be on ISIL, and not the Assad government.

"We have no legal basis at this point in time for wider strikes in Syria and we don't intend to make wider strikes in Syria," he said.


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