ABM and BCA welcome Government’s Syrian refugee response

Thursday 10 September 2015

Australian Baptist Ministries and Baptist Care Australia welcome Government’s Syrian refugee response – call for it to go further

Australian Baptist Ministries and Baptist Care Australia have today welcomed the Government’s response to the Syrian refugee crisis and urged it to go further, both in providing additional aid and further refugee places.

“We are very encouraged that an additional $44 million will be made available to assist those currently in camps with food, clothing and shelter as winter approaches,” Directors Keith Jobberns and Carolyn Kelshaw said.

“We also urge the Australian Government to continue to aim for the $144 million deemed to be our fair share of the amount required,” they said.

Australian Baptist Ministries and Baptist Care Australia believe that the Syrian refugee crisis is of such scale that it demands special emergency measures. “Business as usual responses from countries such as ours will leave millions without protection.”

 In the past our nation has responded to displacement crises by temporarily but very substantially increasing its refugee intake. Between 1949 and 1951 we welcomed 160,000 refugees from post-war Europe; between 1980 and 1982 we offered refuge to almost 60,000 people displaced by the Vietnam war; and in 1989 we provided 42,000 Chinese students with four year protection visas following the Tiananmen Square violence.

“It is time for our nation to once more take extraordinary measures to care for fellow human beings fleeing persecution. We therefore sincerely welcome the government’s decision to a one-off resettlement of 12,000 Syrian refugees,” Ms Kelshaw and Mr Jobberns said.

“We also plead with the Australian Government to go beyond this first step and to provide refuge to comparable numbers of Syrian refugees annually until the Syrian crisis abates,” they urged. “This will allow Australia to continue our regular refugee program while offering additional relief to thousands of those fleeing the violence in Syria.”

Australian Baptist Ministries and Baptist Care Australia note that António Guterres, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, has said that the Syrian civil war has sparked "the biggest humanitarian emergency of our era" with 4 million people having fled Syria, half of which are children, with a further 7.6 million displaced within Syria.

Jesus taught us to see those in need as our neighbours and to do to them as we would like them to do to us were the situation reversed. The children, mothers and fathers of Syria are our neighbours and they stand in need of our help.

Australian Baptist Ministries and Baptist Care Australia therefore welcome today’s announcements by the Prime Minister.

Australian Baptist Ministries and Baptist Care Australia are pleased to join the wider Baptist community in supporting the Baptist World Aid Middle East Crises Appeal to provide urgently needed aid for those suffering in one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises in modern history.

For further comment please contact Keith Jobberns, National Ministries Director Australian Baptist Ministries on 0409 281 240 or Carolyn Kelshaw, Executive Director Baptist Care Australia on 0402 971 710.

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Baptist Care Australia is a passionate, innovative, Christian association of Baptist organisations. Our members bring life-enriching care to their clients, residents, their families and communities. Our care for people arises from our belief that God desires wholeness in all aspects of life. Our collective mission is to express Christ’s love as we serve people and includes addressing their physical, emotional and spiritual needs.