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Why we support bringing our kids home

16 January 2023, Impact of Our Work

As we welcome Aussie children and their mothers back home to safety after a lengthy ordeal in Syria, we continue to advocate for all those still in the camps. 

At Save the Children we welcome the news that Australian children and their mothers are being repatriated from Northeast Syria. For almost four years, the children have been trapped in squalid camps, where many of them were living in uninsulated tents in extreme weather, with limited access to nourishing food, no formal schooling and inadequate healthcare.   

These camps in Northeast Syria are no place for a child, and we are overjoyed they are finally home. There are still around 30 Australian children remaining in the camps, and we will continue our efforts until every one them is home and safe.

Your questions answered

We have received many questions from our supporters about our involvement in advocating for their return. We’re glad to provide some answers to questions we are often asked.

Why are these children in the camps in the first place? 

Their parents were associated with ISIS in some way – the parents may have joined ISIS voluntarily or by force, or they may have been groomed and recruited as children themselves. Some of these children left Australia with their parents, while others were born in Syria. But most importantly, these children are in Syria through no fault of their own and are Australian citizens who deserve to come home. 

Photo: Save the Children
Al Hol, one of the camps where around 30 Australian children remain trapped in deplorable conditions. 

Why should we bring the children home? 

All children are innocent, and the camps are no place for a child. Almost all these children are under 12 years of age. Some are just toddlers. Many children are sick, injured and poorly nourished. No one is defending the alleged actions of their parents, who must face justice if suspected of wrongdoing. But all children who have lived under ISIS control have experienced horrific events – violence, depravation and bombardment. Irrespective of what you think of their parents, the children who have languished in these camps are innocent. They shouldn’t be punished for any alleged actions of their parents or be separated from their mothers. Australia has the power to safely repatriate these children, and their mothers, and support their recovery at home.  

How is Save the Children Australia assisting in the repatriation? 

Since 2019, Save the Children has advocated for the safe return of children and their mothers to Australia. As an organisation, we have campaigned hard to bring this issue to the attention of policymakers and the Australian public. We will not rest until all the Australian children and their mothers are brought home from the camps in Northeast Syria. 

For those whom we’ve already welcomed back home, our teams stand ready to assist state government services and work with the families to ensure the children are provided with support to recover from the traumatic experiences they have suffered and resettle into the Australian way of life. 

What is Save the Children doing to support those who remain in the camps?  

Save the Children has been distributing life-saving food baskets and non-food items in Al Hol and Roj camp. We are the sole provider of Child Protection and Education services to the foreign families in both camps. Under those, we have set up Child Friendly Spaces and schools where we provide children a safe space to learn, play and recover from their traumatic experiences through basic education, resilience and psychosocial support activities, as well as case management services. Furthermore, we have been screening and referring young children and pregnant women for acute malnutrition and other health issues.

Why are we focusing on these children when kids in Australia need help?

At Save the Children, we believe every child deserves a chance at a better life, no matter where they live or who their parents are. We work across the world, wherever there are children who need our support, including in Australia where our programs are delivered by Save the Children's Australian service delivery division, 54 reasons. You can find out more about the work we do in Australia here

Fearless for children

Save the Children was founded by an amazing woman more than 100 years ago. A courageous humanitarian, human rights activist and social reformer, Eglantyne Jebb devoted her life to fighting for children's rights. Her activist heart beats strong every day in the way we operate – fearlessly working for and alongside children. We will not stop in our efforts to bring innocent children back home to safety, from Syria and other areas of conflict in the world.

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