MOSCOW (Sputnik) — Australia will be taking in and resettling 12,000 additional Syrian refugees, amid the global migrant crisis, Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced Wednesday.
"As I indicated yesterday, and confirmed today, our focus for these new 12,000 permanent resettlement places will be those people most in need of permanent protection – women, children and families from persecuted minorities who have sought temporary refuge in Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey," Abbott said, as quoted by the Guardian newspaper.
"These will be permanent resettlement places over and above Australia’s existing humanitarian program of 13,750 this year rising to 18,750 in 3 years’ time," Abbott added.
The government will also provide 44 million Australian dollars ($31 million) in financial assistance to deal with the refugee crisis.
Last year Australia took in 4,440 Syrian refugees, out of 13,750 asylum places.
According to UN estimates, some 7.6 million people have been internally displaced in Syria and another 4 million are living as refugees outside the country as a result of the four-year-long civil war between the government and opposition forces.
Australia has been facing growing criticism from human rights advocates over the treatment of asylum seekers arriving on Australian shores in search of refuge.
Refugees, including young children who come to Australia seeking asylum, are settled in offshore detention camps at the nearby island of Manus in Papua New Guinea and Nauru, which had been criticized by rights groups for inhumane living conditions.