Australia's Tony Abbott Urged to Stop Being a 'Baddie' and Accept More Refugees

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By Reissa Su | February 25, 2014 1:40 PM EST

Amnesty International has called on Australia's Prime Minister Tony Abbott to stop being a "baddie" and start becoming a "goodie." The international human rights organisation said Australia's refusal to accept more Syrian refugees reflects badly on the country's reputation compared to other nations.

REUTERS/Mahmoud Hebbo
Syrian refugees wait to enter Turkey after fleeing violence in Syria on the Syrian-Turkish border in Shamm Alqrain village, northern countryside of Aleppo January 13, 2014. Picture taken January 13, 2014. REUTERS/Mahmoud Hebbo

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Although Amnesty International acknowledges the leadership role of Australia in the United Nations and G20 but in its review of global humanitarian trends in 2013, the organisation has called on Australia to respond to the global refugee crisis.

Emerging trends and key moments in human rights were reviewed from around the world. Amnesty found that many countries have taken backward steps with refugee deaths and displacements especially in Iraq, Syria and the Central Africa Republic.

Amnesty International said that when it comes to human rights, Australia has remained inconsistent. According to Amnesty International Australia director Claire Mallinson, the country has played a significant role in the arms trade treaty agreement in the United Nations as well as the recent humanitarian resolution in Syria.

However, out of 2.3 million people leaving their homes due to conflict, Australia has agreed to take only 500 refugees which Ms Mallinson said is taken from the country's current intake. The prime minister has not considered adding more refugees to its annual quota.

The human rights organisation said Australia can take in 7,500 Syrian refugees based on "per capita factors".  In contrast to Australia's pledge of taking 500 refugees, Germany has decided to take 10,000 people.

Ms Mallinson remarked that as chair of the G20, Mr Abbott must do something similar to extend assistance to Syrian refugees. She said Australia should step and take in the same number of refugees as Germany to encourage other member countries in the G20. The move will help the United Nations meet the 100,000 minimum quota.

Countries not in the same league as Australia in terms of wealth have stepped up to take in more refugees including Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey. These countries have already offered shelter to almost 2 million Syrian refugees, according to Ms Mallison.

Amnesty International has called on the Australian government to investigate the death of one asylum seeker, Reza Berati, on Manus Island, including dozens more who sustained serious injuries. Australian authorities have detained over 1,000 asylum seekers described as "shameful" processing center in a Papua New Guinea island.

Graham Thorn, a spokesman for Amnesty International Australia's Refugee, said the organization is concerned by recent events in Manus Island detention facility.

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(Photo: REUTERS/Mahmoud Hebbo / )
Syrian refugees wait to enter Turkey after fleeing violence in Syria on the Syrian-Turkish border in Shamm Alqrain village, northern countryside of Aleppo January 13, 2014. Picture taken January 13, 2014. REUTERS/Mahmoud Hebbo
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