Australian Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, said on Wednesday that his country would take in 12,000 Syrian refugees as settlers.
He added that Australia would also provide 44 million Australian dollars (about 32 million US dollars) in humanitarian aid to them.
“The 12,000 Syrian refugees will be accepted as permanent settlers in Australia and on top of the 13,750 refugees already scheduled to be taken in this year.
“This is a very significant increase in Australia’s humanitarian intake and it is a generous response to the current emergency,” Abbott said.
The government had been pressured by church groups and some of its own members to prioritise Christian refugees, but Abbott said the refugees would come from all persecuted minorities.
He said, ‘’the refugees will come from persecuted minorities fleeing the Syria and Iraq conflict who are in camps run by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in Turkey, Jordan, Iraq and Lebanon.
“Our focus is on the persecuted minorities who have been displaced and are very unlikely ever to be able to go back to their original homes.”
Abbot also said that Australia would join coalition forces bombing Islamic State targets inside Syria.
Australia has six F/A-18 Hornet fighter-bombers attacking Islamic State (IS) in Iraq and they will now join US-led aerial forces in airstrikes on IS targets inside Syria.
Abbott said that IS needed to be degraded and destroyed wherever they were.