#Human Rights
The Australian Government

Taken from Amnesty Australia's webpage, 18/04/08

"Many Australians believe in the right to a ‘fair go’ and this opportunity has been extended to the many people who have resettled in this country for a variety of reasons. Among the most vulnerable and needy are those who have been forced to flee from their homes due to civil unrest, persecution or poverty.

Each year Australia sets a quota for refugees and others at risk to be resettled here in order to receive protection. Last year the offshore humanitarian program quota was set at 13 000 places.

In October 2007, however, Australia announced a moratorium on resettling refugees from Africa under its offshore humanitarian program, citing difficulties regarding their ability to integrate. The statements made by the then Minister for Migration raised serious concerns about potential discrimination in the selection of refugees under Australia's resettlement program and were strongly condemned by all those who have worked tirelessly is assisting those refugees at greatest risk.

Previously the Australian Government's stated policy was to resettle those in greatest need of protection, regardless of race, religion, or nationality. The offshore component of Australia's Refugee Humanitarian Program has traditionally been one of the most positive and well-resourced refugee resettlement programs in the world. Australia has consistently remained one of only three countries to offer significant resettlement places each year.

Over the last 10 years while annual immigration numbers to Australia have nearly doubled from 73 900 in 1996 to over 140 000 people in 2006. The humanitarian program, however, has only increased from 10 000 to 13 000 places annually; a reduction from 13.3% of the annual immigration intake to 8.8%.

Significant world events make it imperative that Australia increase its offshore resettlement program including the ongoing conflict in Iraq, the crisis in Dafur and the violent suppression of peaceful monk-led protests in Myanmar in September 2007, as many continue to flee their countries in search for protection elsewhere.

Amnesty International Australia calls on the Australian Government to increase its offshore humanitarian program from 13 000 to 20 000 for the next financial year and to ensure those selected are done so on the basis of greatest need and not on a subjective assessment based on ‘integration potential’."

We, the undersigned, call on the Australian Government to increase its offshore humanitarian program from 13000 to 20000 for the next financial year in line with recent recommendation by the UNCHR's High Commissioner for Refugees.

We wish to ensure that those selected are done so on a non-discrimatory basis and not on a subjective assessment based on 'integration potential', providing protection for those most at risk.

Such measures are critical, we urge the Government to recognise the urgency of situations in Iraq, Darfur and Myanmar and the need to resettle refugees from these areas.

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The Increased Committment to Government Offshore Humanitarian Refugee Program petition to The Australian Government was written by Jenna Bastian and is in the category Human Rights at GoPetition.