AUSTRALIAN aid agency Save the Children welcomes the announcement by Foreign Minister Julie Bishop MP to increase humanitarian aid to help Syrian refugee children who have fled the devastating conflict in their country.
The $20 million announcement lifts the total Australian aid package for the crisis in Syria to over $130 million over the past two Australian Governments. These additional funds will go to Save the Children and other agencies’ vital programs helping Syrian refugee children get back in to school and overcome the traumatic experiences they have been through.
Save the Children’s CEO Paul Ronalds said: “The Syrian crisis is now in its fourth year and every day the plight of children worsens, so this further support by the Australian Government for Save the Children and others is extremely welcome. It means we can reach more children who’ve been affected by this devastating conflict and help them recover from the horrors they have witnessed.”
“However, this is the worst humanitarian disaster for decades, the needs are enormous and much more support is needed.”
The aid agency says that it is now essential that humanitarian organisations be given unfettered humanitarian access inside Syria so that they can carry out their life-saving work. According to the latest UN figures, nearly half of the population of Syria are now in need of humanitarian aid.
The new Australian funding will go to the “No Lost Generation” campaign, a joint $1 billion appeal with other international NGOs which will see access to quality education scaled up for refugee children who have escaped Syria and those who remain inside.
The “No Lost Generation” initiative will also provide remedial education and psychosocial support for Syrian pre-schoolers and other out-of-school children, as well as protection from exploitation, abuse and violence.
Mr Ronalds said that helping Syrian children go back to school now will be a key factor in Syria’s long-term recovery when the fighting eventually stops.
“Not only are we concerned about the millions of Syrians who are not having their basic needs like food, shelter and protection met, we are also concerned for the current generation of young Syrians who are missing out on the chance of an education,” Mr Ronalds said.
“When the fighting eventually stops, it will be up to the young people in Syria to rebuild, and without an education that task becomes even more challenging.”
“With the war now in its fourth year, we need to act now.”
Save the Children is working to meet the humanitarian needs of people affected by the conflict both inside Syria and also in Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt and urgently needs further support to continue their vital work. Save the Children states that to bring Australia to parity with other OECD nations in funding its share of the UN’s $6.5 billion humanitarian appeal target for Syria, the country would need to contribute in the order of an additional $70 million.