Australia could take more Syrian refugees: Minister

Canberra, Sep 11 (IANS) Australia could become home to even more asylum seekers from the war-torn Middle East, Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said on Friday.

Dutton flagged the idea of accepting additional refugees, saying the unpredictability and instability in the region could result in a second “wave” of those in need coming to Australia, Xinhua news agency reported.

“We’ll have to assess in due course what the next wave of support might be,” Dutton said.

“We want to provide support to people to start a new life but to try and predict what is going to happen in even two or three years’ time given the volatility, it is just very hard to predict.”

The minister said refugees could begin to arrive in Australia before the end of the year, saying the process of conducting background checks and finding a place for them to live would be quick.

“We have a responsibility now, having made this commitment, to make sure we can settle people as quickly as possible and we expect the first of the Syrian to arrive in Australian before Christmas,” he said.

The Australian government is set to meet resettlement groups in Canberra on Friday to discuss the best course of action to resettling the one-off intake of 12,000 Syrian refugees.

The immigration minister’s comments come as other ministers have slammed the US’ recent announcement that it would be accepting 10,000 refugees.

Assistant Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development Jamie Briggs said US could “probably do more” to help resettle those from the war-torn region.

“The US is always looked upon as a leader in these issues and hopefully President Obama is a bit more generous with some of the humanitarian response,” Briggs said.

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