Address to Syria Donors Conference

  • Speech, check against delivery

I thank the co-hosts - United Kingdom, Kuwait, Germany, Norway and the United Nations - for bringing the international community together to respond to the human impact of the Syrian conflict.

We must seek to alleviate the suffering of the Syrian people, and relieve the immense strain on refugee host countries.

While today we are discussing the humanitarian needs of this crisis, we must not lose sight of the fact that the only solution to the Syrian crisis is to end the conflict.

The Syrian regime and opposition must negotiate seriously to achieve a ceasefire as a prelude to a lasting peace.

Countries with influence on these parties must also act responsibly and bring pressure to bear on the warring parties.

The negotiations must resume in earnest as soon as possible – the killing must stop.

The international community more broadly also has an obligation to help the millions of Syrians affected by this civil war.

Australia welcomes the focus today on economic and education opportunities, as well as building resilience and facilitating development in refugee host countries Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey.

It is vital that Syrian refugees have the opportunity to contribute to their host countries and the communities within, and develop the skills necessary to help rebuild their country after the conflict is over.

Without such opportunities, we risk a lost generation.

Australia's response to the Syria and Iraq crises has been significant, in fact it has been one of our largest ever crisis responses: humanitarian assistance to date totalling $233 million since 2011; a major military contribution to the anti-Daesh coalition which is expected to cost around $400 million this financial year alone; and offering permanent resettlement to 12,000 Syrian refugees estimated to cost around $830 million over four years, in addition to our annual intake of refugees.

Today I announce that Australia will pledge an additional $25 million for Syria and Iraq to help those most affected by the continuing violence. This will bring our total humanitarian assistance to $258 million, bringing our overall commitment to over $1.5 billion to date.

I also announce that Australia will deploy 10 Australian Civilian Corps specialists to Jordan and Lebanon.

These experts will lend their skills to our UN and NGO partners in delivering education, protection, water, sanitation and logistics, and will help bridge the gap between emergency relief and longer-term development needs.

Australia is also developing a multi-year assistance package to help build and strengthen the capacity of Jordan and Lebanon to continue to host large numbers of refugees.

Australia will continue to respond, as we always have done, to such crises however the international community as a whole must give Syrians the hope that they can one day return home. We must also support neighbouring countries to host Syrian refugees until this day arrives.

This shattered nation must be rebuilt.

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