Tony Abbott is sending his immigration minister to Geneva to talk to the UN’s refugee agency on what more Australia can do to help with the growing crisis in Syria.
“We are disposed to take more people from that troubled region under our refugee humanitarian program and we are open to providing more financial assistance,” the prime minister told reporters in Canberra on Sunday.
Immigration Minister Peter Dutton will fly to Geneva on Sunday evening.
Mr Abbott said the scale of the dislocation of people in Syria and northern Iraq and the unfolding crisis in the Mediterranean requires further international response.
“Our focus will be on families and women and children, especially of persecuted minorities, who have sought refuge in camps neighbouring Syria and Iraq,” Mr Abbott said.
He said as a result of the government’s success in stopping illegal boat arrivals to Australia, it is now in a position to take more refugees from offshore refugee camps.
“The government is also considering further funding for humanitarian assistance to those seeking refuge in refugee camps,” he said.
This will add to the $155 million already provided in response to the Syria crisis since 2011.
Last financial year Australia settled more than 4400 people from Syria and Iraq, accounting for 30 per cent of the 13,750 places under the Humanitarian Program, he said.