Save the Children Australia Director of Policy and International Programs, Mat Tinkler said:
“Save the Children is concerned for the wellbeing of a baby boy born to an Australian mother in the Al-Hol camp in North East Syria on Saturday 30 November.
“The birth of this little boy brings the total number of Australian children in the camp to 47, most of whom are under 5 years of age.
“It’s hard to imagine a worse place for a child to be born than inside these camps. The arrival of another brutal Syrian winter brings the added threat of snow storms, sleet and icy conditions.
“In the past year alone, 400 children have died, either in these camps, or on their way to them as they try to escape the conflict.
“This baby has the odds stacked against him from the very first day of his life. He is one of thousands of children, forced to live without running water, proper healthcare facilities and where food supply is highly uncertain.
“Thankfully the birth did not have any serious complications and we understand that both baby and mother are in reasonable health. However this child’s life – and the lives of the more than 40 other Australian children trapped in this camp – remain at risk as long as they remain in such a dire environment.
“A number of these children are already suffering pneumonia and other treatable illnesses, a situation which will only be exacerbated with the onset of winter.
“These children are innocent and should not be made to suffer for the actions of their parents. We are calling on the Australian Government to repatriate these children, and their mothers, as soon as possible.
“We know this can be done right now without putting Australian lives at risk but this window of opportunity may be closing. Four other countries have repatriated citizens in recent weeks, and US and Kurdish authorities have both offered their support to the Australian Government in taking any Australian citizens from the camps to the border.
“These very young children should not be made to suffer for another minute, least of all a newborn child.”
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