Prime Minister Tony Abbott says Australia is willing to accept more refugees from camps bordering Syria and Iraq and “is open” to providing more financial assistance. Rough cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) Australia will accept more refugees from camps bordering Syria and Iraq and "is open" to providing more financial assistance, Prime Minister Tony Abbott said on Sunday (September 6). "We are disposed to take more people from that troubled region under our refugee and humanitarian program and we are open to providing more financial assistance to the UNHCR in the weeks and months ahead," Abbott said. "It is important that there be a humanitarian response but its also important that there be a strong security response as well and obviously the will have more to say on that matter later in the week," Abbott added. The Australian government is due to make a decision within the week on whether to join air strikes against Islamic State fighters in Syria, having been part of the operation in Iraq since last year. Immigration Minister Peter Dutton will travel to Geneva to meet with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees to ask what further assistance Australia could provide, Abbott said. The government's announcement comes as a refugee crisis in Europe intensifies, with many senior Australian politicians calling for an immediate intake of 20,000 Syrian refugees. In the year ending June 30, 2014, about a third of the 13,750 people allowed to settle in Australia hailed from Syria and Iraq. The government has plans to gradually increase the annual total intake to 18,750 places by 2018-19. While showing willingness to take more refugees from Syria and Iraq, Abbott refused to say whether the country's overall humanitarian intake, currently set at some 14,000 people, would increase, or the door would be shut on others from elsewhere in the world.