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Despite the enormous impact of COVID-19 on the US, President Joe Biden has committed to dramatically increasing their refugee intake, calling it their ‘moral duty to democracy’. Closer to home, the NZ Government has revised and restarted its resettlement program, finding ways to safely bring more refugees to New Zealand.   

Yet, the Australian Government has slashed the number of places available for refugees to resettle here by 5,000 places a year to 13,750. 

This comes at a time where we need more places, not less. With the number of refugees in need of resettlement globally this year is predicted to top more than 1.4 million, this missed opportunity to do our bit as world citizens will have a lasting impact on people fleeing persecution — further exacerbating the existing refugee crisis.

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Caifas and Istir* were granted humanitarian visas and arrived in Australia six years ago. Fleeing ISIS in Iraq after their son narrowly escaped a kidnapping attempt, Cafias, Istir and their family fled to Turkey.

Their time in Turkey was marred by racism and discrimination, but the chance to begin a new life in Australia brought hope.

After applying to come to Australia, my wife and I were accepted. We were told that our son would be following us later.

After arriving we were shocked to learn that he was rejected with no explanation why.’ says Caifas. ‘We are still in limbo, waiting with no answer.

Many years have passed since Caifas and Istir last saw their son and his family. Caifas and Istir have never met their youngest granddaughter and are heartbroken, worrying constantly about the many challenges the young family faces as refugees in Turkey.

‘We feel like we are dead without our son. The separation sucked the life out of our family.’

Caifas and Istir are desperate to be reunited with their son, their daughter-in-law and their grandchildren – to see them start school, and restart their lives. The only option for this is through the Australian humanitarian program.

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*Name and key details have been changed due to fear of retribution.

With your help, RCOA will advocate for:

  1. The Australian government to include humanitarian visa holders as priority arrivals, especially for the 6,000 refugees already granted permanent visas who are waiting to be allowed to board flights to Australia.
  2. The government to reinstate the 5,000 places a year that were cut from the Refugee and Humanitarian Program in the last federal budget, restoring the total number of places back to 18,750.
  3. Both the government and opposition to commit to more ambitious targets, increasing places to 25,000-30,000 and beyond in future years in alignment with the inspiring increases we have seen in international refugee resettlement programs.

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