In typical fashion the Howard Government gives with one hand and takes away with the other. In acknowledging the deteriorating situation of Iraqi refugees, Australia will accept more from the Middle East. However, these will come at the expense of those from other regions such as Africa, although it is difficult to see how Minister Andrews has determined one refugee group to be, necessarily, more needy or worthy than another.
The baseline refugee intake will not alter one iota, despite the fact that Australia has materially contributed to the exodus of people out of Iraq. For Andrews, there is no scope for an additional quota of Iraqi refugees over and above the total annual intake of 13,000 from all sources. Our membership of the 'coalition of the damned' does not appear to have figured in framing this wholly inadequate response to the appalling human rights tragedy that occupied Iraq has become.
While the UN has doubled its funding appeal for Iraqi refugees, the Howard Government is not prepared to take extraordinary measures to meet its humanitarian responsibilities - it will instead trade off the welfare of people at risk in other hell-holes in a tacky numbers game.