Prime Minister’s positive commitments at the Leaders’ Summit a welcome development as world leaders take steps to address global refugee crisis

UNICEF Australia welcomes a suite of measures from the Turnbull Government to address the global refugee crisis and chronic levels of displacement, announced at Barack Obama’s Leaders’ Summit on refugees at the UN in New York.  The commitment to increase humanitarian funding for Syrian refugees in key countries by an additional $130 million, the permanent increase in Australia’s refugee intake and increased flexibility with resettlement pathways are practical measures that will save lives, especially those of vulnerable children.
 
UNICEF Australia further welcomes the Australian Government’s commitment to accept refugees from situations of protracted crisis. It is frequently children who are living through prolonged displacement that need assistance most urgently to be able to learn and develop. 
 
UNICEF Australia recognises that the challenges for countries neighbouring Syria remain acute.  Countries such as Jordan and Lebanon will require ongoing funding support and renewed efforts to resettle increased numbers of children and families in safe third countries abroad.  Australia’s commitment with regard to increased funding and an increased humanitarian intake has been a constructive contribution at the Leadership Summit. 
 
“The world is facing an unprecedented humanitarian need, which requires an unprecedented response.  In 2015 only 107,000 refugees were resettled out of 21 million. All developed nations must do more to ensure safe and livable options for refugees,” said Nicole Breeze, Director of Policy and Advocacy, UNICEF Australia.
 
“However, it is difficult to understand how on the one hand the Australian Government can commit to such positive measures, but fall short of finding an urgent resolve for refugees who are experiencing harm in offshore processing facilities.  UNICEF Australia hopes that this positive announcement signals a shifting approach that relies more on regional and international cooperation, and less on deterrence measures.”
 
“In a report last week, UNICEF Australia and Save the Children highlighted the mental anguish, abuse and neglect children and other refugees and asylum seekers continue to suffer under Australia’s current regime on Nauru and Manus Island,” Ms Breeze added.
 
UNICEF Australia and Save the Children’s joint report lays out the full human, economic and strategic cost of Australia’s deterrent policies and includes an economic cost of $9.6 billion dollars since 2013, or $400,000 a year to detain someone on Nauru.
 
“Offshore processing under current arrangements, which fails to provide a resettlement pathway, is simply not sustainable. It distracts proper attention, and diverts critical resources, from the very real global crisis we are experiencing.  It’s time for a new approach in which we focus on addressing root causes of displacement and finding permanent solutions for refugees worldwide.”
 
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For further information and interviews, please contact:
Nicole Mackey, UNICEF Australia, 0403 964 334, nmackey@unicef.org.au
  
About UNICEF
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.
 
For more information about UNICEF Australia and its work visit: www.unicef.org.au
 
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