Save the Children has written an open letter to the future Prime Minister of Australia ahead of the May 18 election, urging leaders of both major political parties to publicly commit to bringing children of Australian foreign fighters in Syria home.
The letter, penned by chief executive Paul Ronalds and published on a full-page in The Saturday Paper today, calls on the future Prime Minister to uphold the values of Australians by repatriating the children languishing in North East Syria.
“No one is defending the actions of their parents, who must face justice,” Mr Ronalds writes.
“But Save the Children will defend the rights of every child, even children of those who have committed the most heinous of crimes.
“In fighting against ISIS, we were standing up for our values; the rule of law and the rights of every individual.
“We call on the future Prime Minister of Australia to uphold those values and promise to bring the children of Australian foreign fighters’ home.”
Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten recently expressed their concerns for Australian children stuck in these camps.
“The shift in rhetoric from the leaders of both major political parties is encouraging, but words alone will not bring these children home,” Mr Ronalds said.
“Australians needs to know where both Mr Morrison and Mr Shorten stand; if they will act on their word if elected on 18 May.”
New figures reveal there are now almost 7,000 children of foreign fighters from 30 different countries living in camps in the north east of Syria. Of those, nearly half are under the age of five.
“The war in Syria is not over and since an offensive against ISIS in March, humanitarian needs have dramatically increased. Tens of thousands of women and children have arrived in camps that were not prepared for the influx,” Mr Ronalds said.
“The population has swelled to almost double its capacity, putting huge pressure on essentials like food, water and shelter. Quite simply, this is no place for a child.”
In its centenary year, Save the Children will launch a global campaign calling on all responsible governments, including Australia, to do more to stop the war on children. Visit www.stopthewaronchildren.org.au to find out more.
For media inquiries contact Evan Schuurman on 0406 117 937