CSSA CEO, Marcelle Mogg, speaks with John Cleary ABC Radio - about Australia's response to the Syrian refugee crisis

Posted 30 November 2015 11:22am

In the past week Australia welcomed the first refugee family under the special arrangements to do with the conflict in Syria.

Under United Nations guidelines those refugees are selected on a strictly non-discriminatory basis from the thousands registered in camps.

There has been some public pressure on the Federal Government, to go beyond the UNHCR's criteria and make special provision for those minority religious groups facing particular threats.

Treasurer and former Immigration Minister Scott Morrison has suggested that this should include a 'very large Christian component. In fact the majority, I would expect.'

A spokesperson for Immigration Minister Peter Dutton did not distance themselves from Mr Morrison's comments, telling the ABC the Treasurer's comments "are in line with the Government's focus".

Officials with the UN refugee agency, the UNHCR, are concerned by politicians requesting Christian refugees from Syria. They point to the example in the United States of America where 25 states said they would refuse to take in Syrian refugees, but might make exceptions for Christians.

There comments were seen as thinly disguised anti-Muslim sentiments.

So what should Australia do?

Is the number of 12,000 sufficient? And should there be positive discrimination for persecuted minorities?

GUESTS

Marcelle Mogg, CEO, Catholic Social Services Australia

Carmel Lazar OAM, Manager, Assyrian Resource Centre

Fr Aloysius Mowe SJ, Director, Jesuit Refugee Service Australia

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