Prime Minister Gillard should tell the Indonesian President that Australia is prepared to work with his country to process urgently refugee claims to save lives of desperate men, women and children now, the Australian Greens said today.
"The government could help victims fleeing persecution now by immediately giving the UNHCR $10 million dollars to assess claims in Indonesia," Greens' immigration spokesperson, Sen. Sarah Hanson-Young, said.
"By helping the UNHCR and immediately resettling 1,000 people already there, refugees will know their pleas for protection are being taken seriously by Australia and there is no need to risk their lives on boats.
"The Greens are determined to care for and save refugees lives, and that's why we're suggesting to the government measures it can take today which don't need parliament's approval.
"People are drowning at sea fleeing persecution and they need safer pathways that give them options other than leaky boats.
"Our challenge is to have the courage to do the right thing, to offer hope and sanctuary in Australia to these victims of persecution, now.
"The ALP's off-shore processing scheme is not a commitment to save lives -- it is a plan to push desperate people anywhere else but here, which means more deaths at sea.
"Boosting funding for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Indonesia will ease the pressure on the two staff who are trying to cope with over 8,000 applications.
"Australian and Indonesian officials should also be discussing greater cooperation on search and rescue operations and sharing intelligence and resources.
"Indonesian officials have said they need Australia's help when mounting search and rescue operations. The Australian government has the chance this week to act."