World / Asia-Pacific

Australia could take more Syrian refugees: minister

(Xinhua) Updated: 2015-09-11 10:13

CANBERRA - Australia could become home to even more asylum seekers from the war-torn Middle East, Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said on Friday.

Dutton flagged the idea of accepting additional refugees, saying the unpredictability and instability in the region could result in a second "wave" of those in need coming to Australia.

"We'll have to assess in due course what the next wave of support might be," Dutton told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC).

"We've been generous in this announcement and we want to provide support to people to start a new life but to try and predict what is going to happen in even two or three years' time given the volatility, it's just very hard to predict."

The minister said refugees could begin to arrive in Australia before the end of the year, saying the process of conducting background checks and finding a place for them to live would be quick.

"We have a responsibility now, having made this commitment, to make sure we can settle people as quickly as possible and we expect the first of the Syrian to arrive in Australian before Christmas," he said.

The Australian government is set to meet resettlement groups in Canberra today to discuss the best course of action to resettling the one-off intake of 12,000 Syrian refugees.

The immigration minister's comments come as other ministers have slammed the US recent announcement that it would be accepting 10,000 refugees.

Assistant Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development Jamie Briggs said Washington could "probably do more" to help resettle those from the war-torn region, especially considering smaller coalition nations, such as Australia, have pledged to take more.

"The United States is always looked upon as a leader in these issues and hopefully President Obama is a bit more generous with some of the humanitarian response," Briggs told Sky News Thursday night.

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