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Australia to take 12000 Syrians, expand bombing on IS

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By NewsGram News Desk

Canberra: Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott is the latest head of state joining the international chorus of ‘taking refugees’ and ‘attacking IS’. Abbott said on Wednesday that Australia will permanently take 12,000 refugees from war-torn Syria and will expand its bombing mission against IS into Syria “within days”.

This refugee intake would be on the top of Australia’s annual commitment of taking in 13,750 refugees from around the world, Xinhua news agency reported.

29-Tony-Abbott-AFP“Australia will re-settle an additional 12,000 refugees from the Syria/Iraq conflict,” Abbott announced at a media conference.

“These will be permanent resettlement places over and above Australia’s existing humanitarian program of 13,750 this year, which rises to 18,750 in 2018-19, the prime minister said.

Abbott said “Our focus for these new, 12,000 resettlement places will be those most in need of permanent protection… women, children and families from persecuted minorities who have sought temporary refuge in Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey… the most vulnerable of all.”

Abbott said while he would like the resettlement to occur “as quickly as possible”, background checks would be taking place.

Earlier, however, he had stated that the nation would include the Syrian number in its annual commitment itself. The latest statement means that the PM has listened to the international cry on helping the Syrian refugees.

At the same press conference, the government also said it would allocate $30.1 million to aid agencies working in the Middle East just a day after the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) slammed Australia for its lack of contributions in 2015.

“We will directly pay for the support of 240,000 displaced people in countries neighboring Syria and Iraq through the UNHCR and other agencies,” Abbott said.

Meanwhile, Australia has also signed off on expanding air force operations into Syria.

Abbot said Australia’s national security committee had rubber-stamped the Royal Australian Air Force’s (RAAF) expansion into Syria, saying operation could begin “within days”.

Australia already runs bombing mission against IS forces in Iraq, but Abbott said it was time to defeat IS at its source in Syria.

“We cannot defeat Daesh in Iraq unless we defeat Daesh in Syria,” Abbot said.

“I emphasize that our aircraft will be targeting IS, not the Assad regime, evil though it is,” the prime minister said.

With inputs from IANS

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More than 200 Commonwealth Games Athletes Seek Asylum in Australia and 50 Go Missing

More than 200 Commonwealth Games athletes and officials remain in Australia after applying for refugee visas, with another 50 staying in the country illegally.

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More than 200 Commonwealth Games athletes and officials remain in Australia after applying for refugee visas, with another 50 staying in the country illegally.

The figures were revealed by Immigration Department officials to a Senate committee hearing on Monday night, reports Xinhua news agency.

A total of 8,103 athletes, media representatives and officials arrived in Australia on temporary visas for the Gold Coast event which concluded on April 15, with 7,848 returning home after their stay expired last week, meaning 255 stayed in the country.

Of those who have remained in Australia, 205 were legally in the community on bridging visas as they await approval to stay on a permanent basis. Border Force officials have commenced a nationwide search for the other 50 who have overstayed their visas.

The majority of foreigners seeking asylum in Australia were from war-torn African nations such as Sierra Leone, Ghana and Nigeria. However some members of the Indian and Pakistani teams have also remained in Australia.

Swimmers. Pixabay

Australia’s Department of Home Affairs deputy secretary, Malisa Golightly, told parliament on Monday night that most of the remaining participants “have applied for protection visas”.

“Anybody that is onshore can apply for protection legally once they are here, but of course then they are considered against … the criteria for that visa,” she said.

The temporary protection visas allow the Commonwealth Games participants to stay in Australia for up to three years and receive welfare benefits.

Peter Dutton, Australia’s Home Affairs Minister, said he was disappointed with the number of people who have stayed illegally as they had been welcomed to Australia “in good faith”.

“Australians hate being taken for a ride by freeloaders,” Dutton told Newscorp Australia on Monday night.

Also Read:Indians Among Top Asylum Seekers in the World: International Migration Outlook 2017 Report

“Australia is now obliged under international law to consider these protection visa applications.”

In comparison, only 45 people extended their visas or sought asylum in Australia after the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games.

–IANS