The migrant and refugee crisis throughout the Middle East and Africa is putting an unprecedented strain on the entire world’s social, economic, and political systems. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) has estimated that over 350,000 migrants have been detected at the European Union’s (EU) borders from January-August, 2015. This figure is nearly one-and-a-half times that of the entire 2014 period alone, and shows no real sign of slowing up.
Despite our geographical isolation, Australia is still stepping up to its international commitment but, thankfully, doing so on our terms. On 6 September, Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced that Australia would take a “significant” number of refugees from Syria based on the “absolute humanitarian catastrophe” and “unprecedented crisis” that the civil war is exacting on its population. He has made it clear that Australia will resettle an additional 12,000 refugees who are fleeing the conflict in Syria and Iraq but only those who meet a certain criteria.
While shameless members of the media continue to flog the image of a drowned toddler to push their liberal agendas, there are a number of Australian politicians—including the prime minister—who have carefully weighed the facts before making their inevitable decision regarding the intake of genuine refugees caught up in this conflict.
Mr. Abbott announced on 9 September that the country’s main focus will be on resettling those who are most in need. This categorization extended to “women, children, and families of persecuted minorities who have sought refuge from the conflict in Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey.” Single men will be categorised as “best able to look after themselves” and will not be considered for the intake.
Although the mandatory security, health, and character checks will be conducted on those refugees prior to them coming to Australia, Mr. Abbott has reiterated that it is “important that we bring in people who are going to be contributors to the Australian community…it is important that we don’t bring in anyone from this troubled region who might ultimately be a problem for the Australian community.”
What our prime minister is essentially doing is reserving the majority of our refugee intake for minority groups such as Syrian Christians and Yazidis. There is incredibly strong support among multiple levels of government and the Australian population for this move, with one backbencher reporting that the message being sent by the prime minister was clear: “No more Muslim men.”
Regardless of which side of the fence people sit on, this is proving to be a popular decision for Mr. Abbott and one that will almost certainly increase his approval ratings as prime minister. Australia has never shied away from its international responsibilities, but there are also times where external organisations such as the United Nations need to be muzzled and not dictate the terms upon which we decide to act.
How and who we choose to help should ultimately be the decision of the sovereign nation, and so far, the way in which our government is handling this crisis seems to be on point.
(Featured image courtesy of usnews.com)