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Australian children must be repatriated, before it’s too late

Save the Children Australia says the Australian Government must urgently follow the US, Canada and members of the EU in repatriating citizens from camps in Syria
13 January 2022

The rights and lives of more than 40 Australian children and their mothers are in dire peril after almost three years of tenuous life trapped in the camps of North East Syria.

Media reports today reveal European countries including Germany, Sweden and Denmark are showing increasing urgency in the repatriation of their citizens.

Acting CEO of Save the Children Australia, Mat Tinkler joined former US Ambassador, Peter Galbraith in urging the Australian Government to follow other nations and act with urgency.

“There are no excuses left for our government to cling to and time is running out for these children to be brought home,” said Mr Tinkler.

“Not only is it clearly possible to bring the Australian children and their mothers home, it’s urgent.”

“This will be the third brutal winter these children will have endured in these camps.”

According to reports Australian officials have visited camps in North East Syria, and both US and Kurdish authorities have offered support to repatriate all Australian citizens safely.

“What exactly is the Australian Government waiting for?” questioned Mr Tinkler.

“The death of an Australian child gets closer every day we fail to bring them home.”

“Whatever you think of the circumstances, these children are innocent and deserve to get the care they need at home in Australia.”

Beyond the threat to their safety and security, many children are suffering from untreated physical and mental health issues. Conditions in the camps are dire, with limited access to health services, nutritious food, or safe drinking water.

Fires are a particular hazard in winter, when cold and wet weather means people in the camps use kerosene heaters or burn wood to try to keep warm. In 2021, at least 13 children were killed by fires.

Since 2019, Save the Children has provided services including case management, mental health and psychosocial support and education through temporary learning spaces.

ENDS

MEDIA CONTACT: Kimberley Gardiner on 0437 435 777 or media.team@savethechildren.org.au

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