Australia funds international humanitarian aid projects

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The Australian government has approved AUD $6.45 million for international aid projects to help thousands of people who have fled their home countries due to war, persecution, or political strife.

The funding will assist humanitarian projects that help displaced people from Iraq, Syria, Nepal, Bangladesh, Thailand, Africa, and Pakistan, according to Immigration Minister Chris Evans.

The funding is provided under the government's Displaced Persons Program for projects administered by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and Austcare.

The money will fund various projects in each country as well as Australia, including funding for safe houses, counseling, construction of shelters, and strengthening of child protection services.

Evans stated that the Displaced Persons Program underlined Australia's commitment to assisting people in need.

In addition to the new project funding, the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) recently increased its migration quota for people immigrating to Australia under its humanitarian program to 13,500, along with a one-off increase of 500 for Iraqi refugees.

Australia also set aside 600 places for the 2007-08 financial year for Iraqis and their families who worked with Australian forces in Iraq.