Amnesty International Australia called on the Australian Government to meet Australia’s commitment to address the worsening global refugee crisis, including in our region, by raising the Refugee and Humanitarian Program intake to at least 30,000 places a year.
The Labor Government has failed after more than a year in government to deliver on its promise to increase the intake that suffered drastic cuts under the previous Coalition Government.
“Labor promised to do more to respond to the escalating conflicts and ongoing crises of persecution and displacement in our region, and to increase refugee and humanitarian places that have fallen to near record lows of 13,750. It is devastating for many communities to see no change in this budget, but with millions more allocated to detain refugees offshore,” said Amnesty Refugee Rights Campaigner Zaki Haidari.
“We understand the Minister for Immigration is about to undertake community consultations on the humanitarian program, and we strongly urge the Government to use this as an opportunity to announce an increase to the Refugee and Humanitarian Program intake following these consultations in line with their policy platform,” said Haidari.
Minority groups, protestors, opposition politicians and women are being killed, arrested and tortured by brutal regimes in Afghanistan, Myanmar and Iran. Civilians are suffering from conflict escalations in Sudan and Ukraine. Women’s and girls’ rights are being violated. LGBTQIA+ communities are at risk. People who have fled persecution are languishing in refugee camps and impermanent, poor living conditions in Bangladesh, the Thai-Myanmar border region and Indonesia.
Australia’s commitment lags well behind other resettlement countries, such as Canada, which has committed to resettling approximately 50,000 refugees annually.
Over the past three years, more than 28,000 humanitarian places which were promised have been lost, yet we know Australians want this government to show more humanity, to step up to its obligations, and to resettle at least 30,000 people a yearZaki Haidari, Amnesty International Australia campaigner
Amnesty is also urging the Government to make resettlement places under the Community Sponsorship Program or Community Refugee Integration and Settlement Program (CRISP) additional to the intake, rather than being deducted. Another commitment the Albanese Government has failed to fulfil in this budget.
“This was the time for the Government to commit to doing much more to address the humanitarian disasters not only in our region but around the world where more than 100 million people are displaced,” said Haidari.
Despite the world facing the largest refugee crisis since the Second World War, the previous Australian Government reduced our annual humanitarian intake, falling to just 13,750 places (reduced from 18,750 places in the 2019-2020 program). An additional 16,000 places over four years was promised to Afghan refugees by the previous Government in 2022.
As COVID restrictions on movement ease, and as global conflicts escalate, there are record numbers of people on the move – more than 100 million. This means that resettlement as a durable solution is now more important than ever.
The UNHCR estimates that global resettlement needs will continue to increase. People who need resettlement now exceed 2 million people, according to the UNHCR, representing a 36% increase from 2022 to 2023 projections.
More than two-thirds of all refugees under UNHCR’s mandate come from just five countries, two of which are within the Asia and Pacific region – Afghanistan (2.7 million) and Myanmar (1.2 million).
The Australian Government has still not made community sponsorship of refugees additional to the Refugee and Humanitarian Program intake. This means every refugee sponsored under the Community Sponsorship Program or the Community Refugee Integration and Settlement Program (CRISP) is still deducted from the intake. This means ordinary Australians and community groups are paying for places the government has already promised.
Amnesty works to support refugees and asylum seekers. We challenge injustice by campaigning for the Australian government to raise the humanitarian intake, improve community sponsorship and end offshore detention. Learn more about our Refugee Rights campaign here.