Refugee Week provides an important reminder that the world is currently experiencing a humanitarian crisis, with over 65 million people currently forcibly displaced from their homes. It is important we know what is happening and how to help these people in need. Currently, of the 65.5 million people who have been forcibly displaced from their homes, 2.5 million of those are labelled as refugees. A disheartening fact is that in 2016, only 189,300 of those people have been resettled.
Refugees are registered under the the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) organisation. UNHCR and the Australian government have been working together since 1977. While the UNHCR recommends people for resettlement, it is the Australian government who decides whether or not to allow them into the country. Unfortunately, the protracted administration process can leave people stranded at offshore facilities for long periods of time. Refugees who seek resettlement need multiple forms of identification. However, some who are labelled under Emergency Rescue (visa subclass 203) may not have had the opportunity to collect such documents before fleeing their homelands. Trying to obtain a visa without UNHCR assistance can take even longer for processing and very few are actually accepted.
According to Australian official statistics, this country has been increasing its intake of refugees over recent years. Between 1996 and 1997, 3,334 refugees were accepted and Australia planned for 6,000 refugees between 2015-2016. Australia is currently listed as the country with the third highest resettlement figure with 5,211 in 2015. Number one on the list is the United States of America with 52,583 refugees, followed by Canada with 10, 236.
There are a number of benefits to increasing the amount of refugees that Australia takes in per year. These include the obvious humanitarian concerns, enhancing the scope of cooperation with regional partners giving greater hope and confidence to asylum seekers, and providing a safer and more realistic alternative to dangerous boat voyages to Australia.
You can help refugees by donating to organisations such as the UNHCR, the Refugee Council, and the Refugee Council of Australia.