Barack Obama is hosting a refugee summit, but Australia might not score an invite

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    What is Obama saying, if we don't take refugees we are racist.  Us white anglo celtic males have to now bow and scrape to some international order because we cannot protect bad people like muslims.

    As the end of his time in office draws near, US President Barack Obama is pulling rank and urging world leaders to come together in September for a summit in New York to address the global migrant crisis.
    Malcolm Turnbull will barely have time to lick his election wounds before he is confronted with a serious question: will Australia come to this party and make a meaningful contribution to alleviating the worst global refugee crisis since World War II?
    The stakes are high. Failure to take meaningful action will confirm Australia's international ignominy concerning the compassion for people fleeing war and persecution.
    United States President Barack Obama is urging world leaders to pledge more assistance for refugees. But will Australia ...
    United States President Barack Obama is urging world leaders to pledge more assistance for refugees. But will Australia join in? Photo: AP
    Along with his co-hosts from Sweden, Canada, Germany, Mexico, Ethiopia and Jordan, Obama wants countries to bring fresh commitments to accept more refugees and increase humanitarian funding so that millions of displaced families can be assured of food, clean water and education.
    It shouldn't be hard for a nation like Australia to score an invitation. But the Obama summit is "pay to play", meaning only those leaders who are prepared to make new pledges get a seat at the table. Those who aren't will be left out in the cold, leaving the world to wonder why they didn't step up.
    It would be an embarrassment if Turnbull, as leader of one of the wealthiest nations on earth, were not to attend – and a snub to the United States President.
    Refugees and migrants disembark on a beach in Greece at the start of the year. By the end of 2016, 65 million people had ...
    Refugees and migrants disembark on a beach in Greece at the start of the year. By the end of 2016, 65 million people had been uprooted by violence or natural disasters. Photo: AP
    So far there is no indication that Australia will be there, although that may be a result of the protracted caretaker period and immediate post-election uncertainty. But it is now incumbent on Malcolm Turnbull to quickly ensure he will attend, and do so bearing something of substance.
    As it considers how to act, the government must keep in mind the magnitude of this crisis. By the end of last year, 65 million people had been uprooted by violence or natural disasters across the planet. It happened in places such as Syria and Iraq, but also as a result of lesser-reported crises such as the Boko Haram violence throughout the Lake Chad basin in Africa.
    This is more human upheaval than during the fallout from the Vietnam War. Or Kosovo. It represents one in every 113 people on the planet.
    About 21 million are refugees; more than half of these are children.
    The Obama summit seeks to deliver a 30 per cent boost to funding for humanitarian organisations and appeals, and a doubling of the number of refugees settled by countries like Australia. Nations hosting refugees will also be asked to provide them with greater opportunities to become more self-reliant, including putting at least 1 million more refugee children in school and granting a million more refugees access to legal work.
    Of course, these sort of pledges re-open wounds from Australia's torturous domestic immigration debate.
    We must do our fair share by doubling our humanitarian emergencies fund for 2016-17 and committing a further $442 million to the UNHCR. Such funding increases would go some way to making amends for the savage cuts to Australia's aid budget over recent years. Instead of being a generous contributor to solving global poverty, our official aid is among the stingiest in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.
    Turnbull will also need to put aside some of the less attractive rhetoric of his election campaign, specifically his Immigration Minister's claims that significantly increasing our humanitarian intake would lead to scores of illiterate migrants in dole queues who would also, paradoxically, take local jobs.
    Australia currently settles 13,750 refugees a year. A one-off intake of 12,000 Syrians and Iraqis is also currently being processed, although slowly.
    But when compared with the magnitude of the current, worsening refugee crisis, our intake looks out of date. Australia cannot credibly maintain its hard-line border protection policies without also offering more safe and legal avenues for resettlement. We know that globally just 7 per cent of those seeking refuge have access to these kinds of pathways.
    Despite its election rhetoric, the Coalition has already quietly vowed to increase the annual humanitarian intake to 18,750 by 2018-19. Labor says it would boost numbers to 27,000 by 2025. An urgent increase in our humanitarian intake to at least 30,000 would be a truer reflection of the need, and be commensurate with the growth in our economy.
    Of course, even if the government stumped up commitments of this scale it would be doing so under the dark clouds of Nauru and Manus Island. Australia's inability or unwillingness to find a safe country to resettle the 1300-plus people languishing in offshore detention – while the rest of the world grapples with millions of displaced people – undermines our humanitarian credibility on the world stage.
    The Obama summit provides Turnbull with a significant opportunity to cast off this recent ugly history.
    And if he is willing to take it then Australia would once again be able to say it was standing alongside its global allies and contributing to a humane, sustainable and realistic solution for the millions of people who have had their lives thrown into chaos by forces beyond their control.

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