The Hon Tanya Plibersek MP
Deputy Leader of the Opposition
Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Development
Abbott Government’s response to the humanitarian crisis in Syria
12 FEBRUARY 2014
The Abbott Government’s response to the humanitarian crisis in Syria has been woefully inadequate.
Despite the record $6.5 billion United Nations’ appeal for help, the Abbott Government has contributed only $12 million.
I have written to the Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop, urging her to provide more assistance from Australia as a matter of priority.
On my visit to Syria earlier this year, I saw first-hand the great extent of the suffering in refugee camps in Jordan and Lebanon.
The UN says about half of Syria’s population, some 9.3 million people, are in urgent need of assistance. Around 2.3 million people have left the country and 6.5 million are internally displaced. More than half of those who have fled are children.
The Abbott Government’s $12 million contribution pales in comparison to other countries. During the last round of pledges to the UN appeal, Britain gave an extra $164 million, Norway gave $75 million, and Kuwait gave $500 million.
The Howard Government gave $1 billion to Indonesia after the Boxing Day tsunami in 2004.
The $12 million pledged by the Abbott Government to UN relief efforts does not reflect the scale of the humanitarian disaster facing Syrians or Australia’s generous tradition. As a member of the UN Security Council, Australia has a responsibility to show global leadership.
The fact a UN convoy was recently attacked in the Syrian city of Homs also underscores the desperate need for protected humanitarian corridors to safely deliver aid - as championed by former Labor Foreign Minister Bob Carr.
From 2011, the former Labor Government delivered around $100 million in assistance for Syria.
Syrian peace talks have recently resumed in Geneva.