Australia to accept 12,000 refugees

  • 10/09/2015
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott (Reuters)
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott (Reuters)

The Australian government has agreed to accept 12,000 Syrian refugees, as the humanitarian crisis in the war-torn Middle Eastern country continues to worsen.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott said the one-off emergency humanitarian intake would prioritise women, children and families within persecuted minorities, and would cost AU$700 million over four years, with the money going to housing, healthcare and education for the refugees.

The refugees will be selected from camps in Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey, while the country will also give an additional AU$44 million to provide basic needs such as food, blankets, water and cash to people in the camps, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.

The extra AU$44 million takes Australia's humanitarian aid contribution to a total of AU$230 million.

Australia's announcement follows John Key declaring that New Zealand will accept an extra 600 refugees over the next few years, on top of the 750 taken on as part of the annual quota each year.

New Zealand will also contribute $4.5 million for refugees in countries surrounding Syria, Mr Key said.

As well as announcing its extra refugee intake, Australia also said it would be expanding air strikes in the conflict, aimed at weakening Islamic State's grip on the region.

Europe has been inundated with refugees in recent months, with an estimated 350,000 detected arriving on EU borders between January and August, according to the International Organisation for Migration. That compares with 280,000 being detected arriving during all of 2014.

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