Australia is close to resettling the 12,000 refugees from the war in Syria and Iraq it promised to urgently take more than a year ago, an official said Wednesday.
All 12,000 have been issued visas and more than 10,000 have already been brought from Middle Eastern refugee camps to Australia, Immigration and Border Protection Minister Peter Dutton said in a statement. The remainder will be resettled in the coming months, he said.
The refugees are in addition to the 13,750 refugees that Australia accepts each year.
Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced in September 2015 that the 12,000 refugees would be resettled as quickly as possible. He was replaced by Malcolm Turnbull, the current prime minister, less than a week later.
Peter Shergold, coordinator-general for refugee resettlement in New South Wales, Australia's most populous state, said careful screening would hold up the resettlement process.
Some conservative government lawmakers had urged the Cabinet to rethink the commitment because of the threat that extremists among the Syrian refugees might pose in Australia.
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