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14 Jun 2023

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Australia must increase humanitarian intake amidst record-breaking displacement

One of Australia’s largest refugee resettlement providers has called for urgent action to lift Australia’s humanitarian intake, as new research shows the number of people experiencing forced displacement increased at a record-breaking rate in 2022.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) report, Global Trends: Forced Displacement in 2022, released today, found that more than 108 million people were forcibly displaced by violence, conflict, and persecution in 2022 – up more than 19 million people on the prior year, making it the largest yearly since UNHCR began this record keeping.

SSI, which provides resettlement support to around 20,000 refugees in Australia a year, has called on the Australian government to uplift the humanitarian intake to respond to pressing global need.

SSI General Manager Newcomers, Settlement and Integration, Yamamah Agha, said that despite the rapidly growing need for resettlement places, the size of Australia’s Humanitarian Program had remained relatively stagnant for decades. 

“This record-breaking displacement highlights the need for the Australian government to meet its commitment to increase the humanitarian intake from 13,750 places to 27,000 places per annum,” she said.  

“A scale-up of the program would assist in meeting the massive shortfall in resettlement places globally, facilitate refugees already resettled in Australia to be re-united with family members, and allow Australia to demonstrate its credentials as a strong global citizen.”

Ms Agha said Australia’s refugee resettlement sector has the skills and expertise to rapidly scale up to support an increase to the refugee intake.

“We demonstrated this in 2016 with the successful resettlement of the one-off intake of an additional 12,000 refugees from Iraq and Syria, and then again in 2021, when we had less than 72 hours to prepare for refugees fleeing the Taliban’s rapid takeover of Afghanistan.

“We are agile, resourceful, and ready to do our part to support both people fleeing war and persecution and our government as it works to resettle this cohort. All we’re asking the government to do is open the door.”

New and ongoing conflicts, including those in Sudan, Myanmar, Afghanistan, Syria, and Ukraine, have continued to force people to flee their homes in 2023, according to the UNHCR report.

“Countries such as the USA and Canada having already increased their refugee intakes for 2023 to 125,0002 and 84,7953 respectively,” said Ms Agha.

“In order maintain our long history of being a leading resettlement country, it is vital Australia follows suit.”

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