He was there to oversee the selection process for 12,000 of the most vulnerable Syrian and Iraqi refugees who will come to Australia.
Mr Dutton says he found the visit confronting, but confirms the value of Australia’s strong border protection policies.
Jordan has provided refuge to some 600,000 Syrians, including 80,000 at the Za’atari refugee camp. At the camp Minister Dutton was briefed by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees and met some of the refugee families. He was particularly affected by seeing young children who have been caught up in the Syrian conflict.
“Well it’s confronting to say the least, to see right behind us that people are fleeing a terrible regime, people have been injured, people who have suffered serious blows from the war that in Australia we can’t really relate to. That is very confronting. The fact that the Jordanians right on the border opened their arms up to not only the refugees but also those people who have been seriously injured, is a great credit to this country.”
Mr Dutton said Australia has provided $200 million to the United Nations to help fund work in refugee camps. He says Australia has the most generous refugee resettlement program in the world, on a per capita basis.
“The 13,750 people that we settle each year, through the refugee and humanitarian programs, makes us the most generous settler on a permanent basis of people who are in need. Now in addition to that we have the provided the 12,000 places for these very desperate people that we have seen in the camps today, in the north of Lebanon and elsewhere, because we are a compassionate nation. But we have been very clear that we can only provide this dividend of refugee support if we have an orderly migration program, and I think that what we are seeing in Europe at the moment, what we are seeing across the Middle East, across parts of Africa and Asia as well, is that countries need to have an orderly migration program.”
Mr Dutton says his visit to the refugee camp confirms Australia made the right decision to resettle the 12,000 refugees. He is concerned that people who come to Australia under this measure are those most in need – and those who pass security checks.
“Well we need to be very careful about this because we do know and there is evidence that people are using documents fraudulently. We do know that the vast majority of people are doing the right thing and that they are legitimate Syrians in need of support. But from my perspective, we want to help those 12,000 Syrians, but from a national security will not be compromised. And I’ve been very clear in the past, and I’ll reinforce it today, that we will work with the United Nations and with the Jordanian Government as well and other partners to make sure we can establish the bone fides of those people that would seek to come.”
My Dutton said Australia is offering permanent places for more Syrians than most other countries.
“From north, south, east and west of our country, people want Syrians to start a new life in Australia, and the fact that we have a tough border policy in Australia means that we can offer a helping hand and a new life to those Syrians. I’m very proud of that, and what has been the lesson of today, it reinforces to me that we’ve made the right decision.”