More than four thousand Syrian and Iraqi refugees will be settled in Australia, with the government reserving them places in its formal refugee program.
Immigration Minister Scott Morrison announced places have been set aside within the Special Humanitarian Program for people who can prove they have a connection to Australia, according to a Guardian Australia report.
The 4,400 places are part of the government’s formal refugee intake of 13,750 refugees each year, reduced from 20,000 under Labor.
“This government has made it very clear that priority in the humanitarian program should be for those waiting overseas and entering Australia under an orderly process,” Mr Morrison said in a statement.
Iraqi and Syrian refugees who tried to reach Australia by boat are currently being held in offshore detention centres.
“With the continued violence in Iraq and Syria, the Australian government is dedicated to ensuring its humanitarian programme reaches those who need it most,” said Mr Morrison.
The Special Humanitarian Program receives more than 40,000 applications each year, and aims to settle people with family already in Australia.
The government has also promised to take in at least 4,500 Syrian refugees over the next three years.