The Australian Government has stepped up to save the lives of 12,000 more people escaping the conflict in Syria.

Petition now closed

Almost 26,000 people signed our petition calling on Australia to offer asylum to 20,000 Syrian refugee, in addition to its existing humanitarian quota.

Our petition calling on Australia to is now closed. Thank you to everyone who signed.

Worst refugee crisis since WWII

This is just the first step needed, as world leaders, including Australia, look to address the worst refugee crisis since WWII.

"Thousands more people will now have the chance to live safe and happy lives and make positive contributions to the diverse Australian community," said Dr Graham Thom, Refugee Coordinator, Amnesty International Australia. "It is a positive demonstration of leadership which hopefully other developed countries will follow."

Intake should be increased to 20,000

But there’s no reason this number can’t be increased to 20,000 people, in addition to the current humanitarian intake of 13,750. Those individuals resettled must be prioritised on the basis of their vulnerability and in full consultation with the UNHCR.

The Prime Minister has so far failed to put a time frame on the placements. The urgency of this crisis means these people must be resettled within a year or less. For refugees languishing in Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey, certainty and safety needs to happen now, because as the UN has stated, funding for basic food and necessities is running out.

Less than 1% of refugees are resettled through UNHCR program

Less than one per cent of the world’s refugees are resettled through the UNHCR’s resettlement program and Australia resettles a small proportion of that one per cent, leaving the rest of the world to deal with the other 99 per cent.

Dr Graham Thom, Amnesty International

Less than one per cent of the world’s refugees are resettled through the UNHCR’s resettlement program and Australia resettles a small proportion of that one per cent, leaving the rest of the world to deal with the other 99 per cent.

Currently Lebanon hosts approximately 1.2 million refugees from Syria – around one in five people in the country. Jordan hosts about 650,000 refugees from Syria – 10% of the population. Turkey hosts 1.9 million refugees from Syria – more than any other country worldwide.

Today’s announcement recognises this discrepancy and seeks to secure Australia’s place as a generous and prosperous country with a humanitarian heart.

Australia joining US-led military strikes in Syria

The announcement has been made alongside the decision for Australia to join US-led military strikes in Syria, targeting the Islamic State (IS).

It is important that Australia enters this agreement ensuring it adheres to international law, including the protection of civilians during the conflict.

Any military action taken by Australia in Syria must ensure all possible steps are taken to avoid civilian casualties and air strikes are only directed at military targets.

Refugees must be allowed to join our communities

While we welcome today’s news about the extra refugee places, it must be remembered that the few Syrians who have made it to our shores have now been languishing at the Australian-run detention centre on Manus Island for over two years.

If the government is to be consistent in its approach, it must also give them refugee protection and allow them to be a part of the Australian community, to begin new lives, free from fear and persecution.