Leaders want more funding and more refugee intake places
OUR country can do so much more.
This is the resounding reaction to Prime Minister Tony Abbot's announcement today that Australia would permanently re-home more than 12,000 refugees from Syria.
Revealing Australia's response to the humanitarian crisis in Europe, Mr Abbott also committed an extra $44 million in aid for those caught in the massive exodus.
And he confirmed Australia's air strikes against Daesh terrorists would extend into Syria.
Humanitarian organisations World Vision Australia and Oxfam said the fiunding and refugee intake commitments were welcome but more needed to be done.
Oxfam, WVA and Save the Children early this week urged Mr Abbott to increase the country's Syrian refugee numbers to 30,000.
Both Oxfam and WVA believe Australia should contribute $144 million to the Syria crisis.
WVA chief executive Tim Costello today said Mr Abbott was on the right path but the issue would need to be revisited soon.
"The world is facing the worst refugee crisis since World War II so while the government's decision is progress, Australia could still play a much more significant role in alleviating the problem," Mr Costello said.
"Even with the announcement of new funding, Australia still has a long way to go to meet its $144 million fair share of the global Syrian appeal.
"Like all Australians, I welcome the Government's announcement but I also believe that most Australians believe we need to be doing more."
More than four million Syrian refugees have flowed into neighbouring countries and most of these are struggling under the burden, Mr Costello said.
He said without extra aid many of the state-less men, women and children faced a grim future.
Mr Costello urged Mr Abbott to also increase diplomatic efforts to "help to secure a lasting and effective peace agreement, so that one day, Syrian refugees may be able to return home."
He said the nation should also spare a thought for refugees fleeing chaos in Afghanistan, South Sudan, Somalia and Myanmar.
Oxfam acting chief executive Pam Anders said her organisation was "disappointed" the government did not go further with its commitments.
"Given this country's prosperity, as one of the richest nations on earth, we can and must do more," Ms Anders said.
"When you look at the scale of the problem, with 60 million people forcibly displaced from their homes globally, you can't help but be struck by the fact that we need to do everything we possibly can to help."
Church community is here to help
The Anglican Church said the government's response to the crisis showed the plight of the Syrian refugees had touched Australians.
The church's leader, Archbishop Philip Freier, said Anglican communities across Australia would lend a hand.
"I am confident there will be strong community approval at this decision and that Anglican parishes around the country will do all they can to help refugees and smooth their path," he said.
Medical expert says health response is vital
Royal Australasian College of Physicians President Nick Talley said many of the new Australians would need ongoing specialised healthcare.
"The impact on the health and wellbeing of families and children who have been forced to flee their homes is unfathomable," Professor Talley said.
"Health systems in Syria's neighbouring countries of Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan are under immense strain due to people fleeing the dreadful and deteriorating conditions in Syria.
"The conditions and services in refugee camps in these countries are also drastically underfunded with appropriate health care a significant challenge.
"Australia has the wealth, capacity and medical expertise to provide these people safe haven and access to the appropriate healthcare they need." - APN NEWSDESK