Immigration Minister Peter Dutton has officially welcomed the first of 12,000 refugees chosen to resettle in Australia at a ceremony in Jordan.
Thousands of refugees who have fled the ongoing wars in Syria and Iraq will be brought to Australia within the next 18 months.
At a ceremony in Jordan, where he has been visiting the UN’s Zaatari refugee camp, Mr Dutton presented the first four families with their visas for Australia.
“We are very excited about you coming to Australia,” he told them.
“We are very pleased that we will be able to welcome your family and we look forward to you starting your new life in Australia.”
The families met by the minister included Sunni Muslim refugees from the war-torn city of Homs in Syria, and Assyrian Christians from the Islamic State-occupied city of Mosul in Iraq.
Mr Dutton said he hoped the families would arrive in Australia by Christmas.
Jordan is home to more than 600,000 Syrian refugees and some of the families in Zaatari have been living there for as long as four years.
But with no rights to work and food aid being cut by a cash-strapped UN, many are leaving Jordan for Europe as fast as they can, joining a record flow of people traipsing across the continent in search of safety.
Mr Dutton yesterday said his visit to Zaatari had only reinforced his resolve to uphold the Government’s tough stance on border protection, claiming the reduction in boat arrivals had allowed Australia to now take in 12,000 Syrian refugees.
“The fact we have a tough border policy in Australia means that we can offer a helping hand and a new life to those Syrians,” he said.
Mr Dutton refused to comment on whether Australia would stop its policy of sending Syrian asylum seekers currently held on Nauru and Manus back to the war-torn country.