A slight de-escalation in hostilities in north east Syria has extended the window of opportunity for the Australian Government to bring Australian children to safety.
Acting CEO of Save the Children Australia, Mat Tinkler welcomed the pause in airstrikes and hostilities which had forced at least 176,000 from their homes and 1,600 to flee to Iraq.
“Save the Children welcomes the cessation of hostilities in north east Syria and urges the Australian Government to seize this opportunity to bring home trapped Australian citizens,” said Mr Tinkler.
“This short window renews the opportunity for the Australian Government to bring these women and children to safety.”
“These camps in north east Syria are one of the worst places in the world to be a child, with the recent escalation in violence only worsening conditions and heightening danger”.
Save the Children and Kamalle Dabboussy, father and spokesperson for Australian families with loved ones trapped in Syria have written to every Federal Member of Parliament and Senator following meetings in Canberra this week.
The correspondence reinforced the message that it was possible for the women and children to be brought to safety without putting Australian officials or soldiers in harm’s way, and that there were laws in place to deal with any perceived or real security concerns.
The Kurdish authorities in both Iraq and North East Syria have advised us over the last few days that, if they receive a request from the Australian Government, they remain willing to transfer foreign nationals from the camps to border towns such as Qamishli and Dêrik.
No-one is disputing that there may be serious questions for the adults to answer when they return. Australia now has extensive laws and powers for authorities to exert to ensure that anyone who is suspected of being a security risk can be dealt with appropriately.
Irrespective of the actions of their parents, none of these children deserve to be abandoned. The situation in North East Syria is only going to get worse and action must be taken right now, before it is too late.
We urge all Members of Parliament to support our call for immediate action to bring these Australians, including more than 40 innocent children, to safety.
An estimated 176,000 people have recently been displaced since the beginning of the crisis on 9 October, fleeing military advances and hostilities. Many have displaced multiple times from one area to another. Some 1,600 individuals have reportedly fled to Iraq. The majority of the displaced are children and women coming from Ras Al Ein and its outskirts and the city of Darbasiya.
More than 11 children have been killed in northeast Syria and Turkey since the beginning of the military operations.
For interviews, call Jessica Brennan +61 4 21 334 918.