World Vision urges Australian Government to increase refugee intake
World Vision Australia has backed a call to urgently increase Australia’s humanitarian intake, as part of broader measures to support the largest movement of refugees globally since World War Two.
‘The number of people fleeing their countries around the world today is unprecedented, with conflicts raging in multiple regions of the world,’ said World Vision Australia chief executive Tim Costello.
‘The harrowing images we’ve seen this week have deeply affected many of us, and yet these images represent only the smallest percentage of those who have died or continue to suffer as a result of the conflict in Syria. As one of the world’s richest countries, we have a moral obligation to act, and to act now.’
Conny Lenneberg, World Vision’s Australian-raised Regional Director for the Middle East and Eastern Europe said the aid agency was seeing an increasing number of children making the journey from Syria and neighbouring countries by themselves.
“There’s an estimated 8,000 unaccompanied refugee children in Serbia alone right now. We know from experience they are vulnerable to trafficking, forced labour, prostitution and other forms of violence. Further, with Serbia’s harsh winter fast approaching, they lack adequate food, clothing and shelter,” Ms Lenneberg said.
Ms Lenneberg said whilst the world’s attention has this week focused on the influx of Syrian refugees into Europe, it is important not to lose sight of the fact that millions of Syrian refugees are currently also living in neighbouring countries, including Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq.
She said without immediate action to end the violence in Syria by parties to the conflict, members of the Security Council and those governments with real political, diplomatic and financial leverage, the situation will continue unabated.
“The images coming out of Europe are extremely distressing. There are desperate scenes in refugee host countries bordering Syria too. Since 2011, over four million people have sought refuge in Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Turkey. These places have extended immense hospitality to Syrian refugees not without impact to their own economies and social services,” said Wynn Flaten, World Vision’s Syria Crisis Response Director.
Further funding is urgently needed to ensure Syrians can seek safety and security as soon as they arrive in refugee host countries. With international response plans only around 37 per cent funded, due in part to unmet commitments by donors, the shortfall has led to drastic measures including major cuts to food aid.
World Vision works in Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq improving health and food security and providing water, sanitation and non-food items like mosquito nets and nutrition kits as well as shelter to children and their families.
People can donate to World Vision’s Syria Crisis Appeal by visiting worldvision.com.au.
Media contact: Jessica Ciccotelli, World Vision Australia, 0402 971 225
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