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Australia must boost humanitarian aid to help children trapped in Syrian conflict nightmare 

The upcoming Brussels pledging conference is an opportunity for Australia to step up as an already dire humanitarian crisis worsens
10 March 2019

Save the Children is calling on the Australian Government to increase its contribution to the humanitarian response in Syria and the region as the conflict approaches its eighth anniversary (15 March). 

Australia will be represented at the third Supporting Syria and the Region conference in Brussels from March 12-14 which offers the ideal platform for a tangible and public commitment to the humanitarian effort.

Save the Children has written to the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Senator Marise Payne and the Shadow Minister, Senator Penny Wong calling for a commitment greater than and certainly no less than the last 3-year commitment. 

CEO of Save the Children Australia, Paul Ronalds said the Syrian conflict had taken a devastating toll on the country’s children.

“The Syrian war is among the most dangerous and drawn out conflicts of our times,” he said.

“This regrettable anniversary means there is now a generation of Syrian children who, through no fault of their own, have known nothing but violence, uncertainty and displacement.

“I was recently in Jordan and Lebanon and saw first hand the difference Australian aid is making on the ground to the lives of Syrian children and their families impacted by this conflict.”

Save the Children is calling on the Australian Government to use the platform of the Brussels pledging conference to:

  • Commit to funding levels greater than the last three-year aid package (AUD$220 million) for Syria and the neighboring countries shouldering the lion’s share of the refugee crisis;
  • Prioritise investment in the recovery of children affected by the conflict access to quality education and mental health and psychosocial support;
  • Fund the humanitarian response in Syria in a principled, impartial and needs-based manner;
  • Commit to support durable solutions in the best interests of children caught up in the conflict whether be they refugees or children of foreign nationals;
  • Leverage influence on parties to the conflict to press for immediate and peaceful resolution and respect for international humanitarian law; and
  • Press for accountability to the international law for all parties to the conflict, to protect children at all times.

The need to step up humanitarian efforts has become even more urgent with the recent mass exodus of thousands, mainly women and children, from the last ISIS held enclave, Baghouz, which has seen three north-east Syrian refugee camps stretched to breaking point. 

“Australians would expect their government to do all that it can in the face of human tragedy on such an epic scale,” said Mr Ronalds.

“As an influential member of the international community, we urge the Australian Government to use this opportunity to do all it can to stop the suffering of Syria’s children and provide safety, shelter and opportunity.”

In this, our centenary year, Save the Children is calling on the Australian Government to do all it can to stop the war on children. Our report released in February, is a stark depiction of the extent to which children are the true victims of war.

For interviews, call Licardo Prince on 0401 777 917.

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