UNICEF Welcomes Australian Government’s Commitment To Deal With Crisis In Syria

UNICEF Australia says it welcomes the announcement by the Australian Government that it will provide as many as 12,000 permanent places for refugees affected by the Syrian conflict. The Government also said it would spend another $44 million to provide aid to refugee settlements in neighbouring countries. After more than 4 years of fighting the aid agency says 2 million children have been forced to find refuge outside of Syria and with fighting intensifying ahead of winter, more will be forced to flee.

“This is a positive and necessary response to this unprecedented humanitarian emergency, with many children on the move and at risk. As we’ve seen in the past week, children are the most vulnerable to risky and dangerous journeys, but they also face exploitation, forced labour, early child marriage and sexual violence while they wait in camps and tented settlements for a permanent and safe solution,” UNICEF Australia chief technical officer Amy Lamoin said.

Australia Should Admit Refugees based on need

UNICEF Australia is urging the Australian Government to settle refugees based on need and target those that are most vulnerable. It also said the settlement policy should be non-discriminatory. The aid agency points out that during times of conflict, children are always the most vulnerable. UNICEF congratulated the Australian Government’s decision to welcome 12,000 refugees and said for families and children caught up in the crisis, it was a life saving measure.

Permanent political solution needs to be found

UNICEF noted that until a permanent political solution could be found to the regional conflict, the mass migration of people would continue and further measures would probably need to be considered. The war that is taking place is a protracted conflict which requires a sustained humanitarian commitment. UNICEF also warned the Australian government on limiting the people it would provide refuge to from camps outside of Syria.

“UNICEF knows that the vast majority of people who have fled conflict in Syria are not in camps, but living in host communities, their issues are compounded by the fact they cannot work, and many are effectively compelled to commit their children to work or find other, often dangerous solutions to meet ongoing and rising costs.” Ms Lamoin said.

UNICEF’s work is underfunded

UNICEF’s work for the children of Syria is currently underfunded by as much as $500 million. The aid agency is the lead organisation when it comes to sanitation, water, child protection and education. On all fronts that the agency is working on, its resources are stretched thin. Ms. Lamoin says the agency welcomes the additional funding by the Australian government and is calling on the general public to do everything they can to help with the crisis.

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