Time is running out for innocent Australian children stuck in camps in North East Syria, said Save the Children, as the aid agency issued an urgent call for the Australian Government to commit to their repatriation.
Save the Children Australia CEO Mat Tinkler today sounded the alarm after recently travelling to meet with Australian women and children trapped in the camps for more than three years.
The heartbreaking stories of the innocent children Mr Tinkler met in Syria are featured in articles published by The Australian newspaper today.
“I anticipated seeing difficult conditions in the camps, but nothing could prepare me for seeing first-hand the impact of prolonged exposure to these conditions and the untreated shrapnel injuries and illnesses many of the Australian children are enduring,” Mr Tinkler said.
“They have already suffered immensely – many have experienced violence, bombardment and lost loved loves. Their education is being severely disrupted, their health is deteriorating without access to adequate medical care, and they are stuck in an endless limbo.
“After three years of the Morrison government failing to act, time is running out for these innocent children, marooned in one of the worst places in the world to be a child.
“Labor has inherited a legacy of inaction from the Coalition, but these children cannot afford to wait another three years. We’re calling on the new government to urgently commit to bringing these innocent children home.
“There’s no practical or legal barrier to urgent repatriation. Other countries have proved it is possible to safely return children and their mothers, and we’ve shown it’s possible to access these camps easily.
“The local administration who run the camps and the US Government have both offered their support to extract the women and children. The time for Australia to act is now.”
Earlier this month, France successfully repatriated 35 children and 16 women from the Syrian camps. So far this year, Germany has also repatriated 27 children and ten mothers, Sweden repatriated four children and two mothers, and the Netherlands repatriated 11 children and five mothers.
In April, the United Nations slammed Australia for failing to take steps to uphold the rights of Australian citizens in the camps, saying this had resulted in an arbitrary deprivation of their liberty and a 'sheer obliteration' of their rights. The letter to the Australian Government from 10 UN Special Rapporteurs can be found here and the Australian Government’s response here.
At least 63 Australians, including more than 40 children, are languishing in the camps in North East Syria.
MEDIA CONTACT: Holly Robertson on 0414 546 656 or firstname.lastname@example.org