Australia may increase Syrian refugee intake, minister says

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Sydney (dpa) – Australia may take more refugees from Syria than the 12,000 extra arrivals it pledged to take in September, Immigration Minister Peter Dutton told reporters Wednesday as he visited refugee camps in Jordan, Australian media reported.

Dutton handed out the first refugee visas to families at the Australian embassy in Amman under its resettlement programme, which planned to accept 12,000 refugees from camps in Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon, the Canberra Times reported.

This intake is on top of the scheduled 13,750 refugees from all over the world that Australia will take this year through the United Nations resettlement programme, it said.

The first Syrian refugees are expected to arrive in Australia before Christmas and Dutton said if the additional intake is a success he would consider increasing the number again “over the coming years.”

“What I want to do is to demonstrate that with the 12,000 we can do it right, we can get the security checks in place, we are not going to compromise on making sure that we can establish the bona fides,” he told the Canberra Times reporter travelling with him.

Refugees have to pass health and background checks before being accepted for an Australian visa.

Under the current Liberal Party government, Australia has refused to allow in any migrants who attempt to reach the country by boat.

Dutton said he wanted the resettlement programme to “concentrate on those who are most in need, and those who come from persecuted minorities, those who have a terrible story to tell.”

Of the first four families granted visas, two were Sunni Muslims and two were Christians.

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