Australia announced on Thursday that it would increase its refugee intake by an additional 6,000 per year.
This means that the country will take in 20,000 refugees—many of whom come from Asia via boats—instead of the previous number of 13,750, representing a 40 percent increase and the largest increase in 30 years, reported the Sydney Morning Herald.
“This increase is targeted to those in most need: those vulnerable people offshore, not those getting on boats,” Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard said, according to the newspaper.
The increase is designed to deter people from taking the perilous journey via boat from Asia to Australia. In the past three years, at least 600 people have died attempting the trip via boats, which are usually rickety and overcrowded.
Under a recent proposal put forward by an independent commission, Australia will increase its humanitarian intake and open up offshore processing facilities in Nauru and Manus Island, which is part of Papua New Guinea. Overall, 22 recommendations were made.
“If you get on a boat, you are at risk of being transferred to Nauru or PNG. But message number two, if you stay where you are then there are more resettlement places available in Australia,” Gillard said, according to the Australia Broadcasting Corporation.
The government expects the majority of asylum applications to come from people fleeing Sri Lanka and Afghanistan. Immigration Minister Chris Bowen said others have come from Iran, Iraq, and Syria.
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