Monday 7th September 2015 - 7:30 am

Tony Abbott says Australia will take more…..

by Alan Thornhill

The Prime Minister has signaled that Australia will take more people from war torn Syria.

Addressing reporters in Canberra, Mr Abbott said:” Like just about every other Australian I was moved by the horrific imagery of that little boy washed up on a beach in Turkey.

“Absolutely awful imagery and certainly no parent could fail to be moved by what we saw.

“Australia is a country which has always taken its international obligations seriously.

“Australia is a country which has always done what we can to assist when people are in trouble around the world and we certainly are not going to change our character now.

“So, I have asked the Immigration Minister Peter Dutton to go urgently to Geneva to talk to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees on what more Australia can do to assist on the migration crisis that is being driven by the problems in the Middle East.

“We are disposed to take more people from that troubled region under our refugee and humanitarian program and we are open to providing more financial assistance to the UNHCR in the weeks and months ahead.”

Then he added:” I should point out that we are already doing a lot.

“In the last financial year we took almost 4,500 people from the trouble spots of Eastern Syria and Northern Iraq.

“Since 2011, we have provided $155 million in humanitarian assistance for the Syrian crisis and just this year alone we have provided $100 million in humanitarian assistance for the Middle East more broadly.

“We are a country which, on a per capita basis, takes more refugees than any other. We take more refugees than any other through the UNHCR on a per capita basis but obviously this is a very grave situation in the Middle East.”

Mr Abbott’s policy of turning back refugee boats has been sharply criticised, in the past week.

This criticism has included an editorial in The New York Times urging European countries not to follow his example, as they struggle to deal with the current crisis in their region.

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Alan Thornhill

Alan Thornhill is a parliamentary press gallery journalist.
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