Foreign Minister Bob Carr today announced a further $10 million in humanitarian assistance for people affected by the conflict in Syria, which has claimed more than 60,000 lives and left two million people homeless.
"Nearly one in five Syrians - or around 4 million people - are now in desperate need of shelter, food and health care as the fighting continues," Senator Carr said.
"Reports from Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq also suggest around 2,000 people a day are fleeing to refugee camps across Syria's borders.
"Alongside the international community, Australia has a responsibility to assist civilian victims of this conflict left without food, shelter or basic medical care.
"That's why I'm proud we can make this additional commitment in urgent humanitarian aid , bringing our total contribution for the Syrian crisis to $41.5 million.
"This additional funding is a step forward in helping the thousands of Syrian civilians caught up in the struggle against the Assad regime."
Australia's $10 million commitment would provide:
- $4 million to the World Food Programme (WFP) for essential food supplies to meet critical shortages;
- $2 million will go to international organisations providing emergency health and medical assistance; and
- $4 million to the United Nations Refugee Agency to support those fleeing to temporary refugee camps.
The additional funding was announced at an international pledging conference on the Syrian crisis, in Kuwait on January 30 (overnight Jan 30-31 AEDT).
At the conference, Australia also discussed plans to protect medical workers and ensure safe access to Syrian hospitals in accordance with international humanitarian law.
The Australian plan would involve securing a commitment from all sides in the Syrian conflict:
- Not to target medical personnel;
- Not to block access to doctors, hospitals or emergency care; and
- Not to attack medical facilities.
Implementation could be observed by a neutral third party such as a non-government organisation.
"This is a minimalist plan to protect hospitals and health workers and help the thousands of Syrian families cut off from basic care," Senator Carr said.
"The plan is a humanitarian intervention and has no political or military aspect.
"We believe all Syrians deserve access to medical facilities, regardless of their stance on their country's civil war."
Australia's medical plan for Syria has already been positively received by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the Joint Special Envoy to Syria Mr Lakdar Brahimi and European and Arab Foreign Ministers, and was brought to the attention of the UN Security Council on January 17.
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