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Bring our kids home

16 July 2022, Action for Change

Australia has a moral and legal obligation to repatriate our innocent children trapped in Syria

More than 40 Australian children, some of whom are just toddlers, have been surviving in tents in the deserts of North East Syria with their mothers for more than three years. 

These are innocent children and Australian citizens. These kids should be playing and learning in kinder or school here at home, not trapped in a camp in Syria.  

These children are eking out an existence in one of the most difficult places in the world to be a child. 

They live in thin canvas tents crowded in their thousands in the centre of a vast desert plain. Sanitation is rudimentary. In summer the heat is unbearable, the temperature sweltering in the mid-40s. While in winter the camp is a bitterly cold, frozen wasteland.

All I want is for me and my mum and my sisters to come home. I want to forget about the camp, please take me out of here.

12-year-old Australian girl, Roj Camp

 

The children are suffering. Many are stunted, weak and underweight from poor nutrition. Some have serious injuries that require immediate treatment, such as removing shrapnel, surgery that camp medical facilities are ill-equipped to carry out.
 
Every day these Australian children spend there, more harm is being done. Every day they risk injury, illness or even death. These children have faced incredible dangers, including coercion, trafficking, enslavement, and sexual exploitation. They are now being denied their rights to education, healthcare and freedom.

These are innocent Aussie kids. But many of them have only ever known life in the camp. No child, no matter the alleged actions of their parents, deserves to live like this. 

Mat Tinkler, CEO of Save the Children Australia, recently visited one of the camps in North East Syria. Take a look at the following video in which he describes his experience.

The reported death of an Australian teenager in Syria is a shocking and terrible tragedy. Our worst fears are now a devastating reality … This deeply troubling news should serve as a wake-up call for the current government. It has never been clearer that time is running out.

Mat Tinkler, CEO Save the Children Australia

No practical or legal barriers to repatriation

Australia has a moral and legal obligation to repatriate these children. There are no practical or legal barriers to prevent the government from doing so. Other countries, including Germany, Sweden and the Netherlands have safely brought home women and children from the camps. Recently France repatriated 51 people, including 35 children. 

Should we leave our children to languish in the camps while other countries bring their kids home to safety? 

The local authorities in North East Syria are doing their best to support these families under incredibly difficult circumstances. This region has been wracked by conflict for a decade. And supporting foreign citizens should not be their responsibility. It is Australia’s responsibility to look after our own. 

We are calling on the new federal government to step up and bring these innocent children home.

It’s time for Australia to do the right thing by our children.

It’s time to bring our kids home. 

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