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A refugee or migrant dies every 80 minutes


October 2016

Since the start of 2016 a refugee or migrant has died almost every 80 minutes while trying to reach another country, international aid agency Oxfam said last week.

This is despite the public outcry over the death of three-year-old Alan Kurdi in the Mediterranean a year ago today, on 2 September 2015.

Oxfam Australia’s Human-itarian Advocacy Lead Dr Nicole Bieske said globally the number of refugees and migrants who have died has increased by more than 20 per cent in the last year.

"At least 5,700 people have died on refugee and migrant routes around the world since the body of the young Syrian boy washed up on a beach after his family tried to cross to Europe from Turkey. In the year before he died, 4,664 deaths were recorded," Dr Bieske said.

"Photos of little Alan Kurdi caused a global outpouring of support for refugees and migrants on social media. Similarly, the recent images of Omran Daqneesh, the young Syrian boy pictured bloodied and covered in dust after being pulled from the rubble of his apartment block in Aleppo have had a similar effect.

"Despite the strength of the public response to this issue, one year on nothing has improved for those searching, as Alan’s family was, for safety and dignity."

Dr Bieske said Oxfam is calling on governments – especially rich ones – to commit to welcoming more refugees.

"This crisis is far too big for any one country to solve alone, governments worldwide must act together to save lives. The Australian Government must commit to a timeframe to resettle the 12,000 Syrian and Iraqi refugees they agreed to take in a year ago and increase Australia’s overall annual humanitarian intake to 42,000 by 2020/ 21," said Dr Bieske.

"The Australian Government should also provide further humanitarian funding to countries hosting large refugee populations such as Jordan, Lebanon and others."

Two major meetings on the global refugee and migration crisis take place in New York later this month - the UN Sum-mit for refugees and migrants and the Leaders’ Summit on refugees. Negotiations for the UN Summit were held, but were very disappointing, with many countries unwilling to do more to help.

"Both the UN and President Obama see the migration challenge as critical, calling for two separate summits. But the outcomes of the recent meetings ahead of the UN Summit were appallingly weak, with states focusing on self-interest while more lives were lost on ever more dangerous routes to safety.

"The Australian Government has not one but two further chances to help now - at the UN’s and President Obama’s respective summits for refugees and migrants. Our leaders must not waste these opportunities as lives are on the line," Dr Bieske said.


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