Foreign Minister Bob Carr has secured a positive response to Australia’s plan to protect access to hospitals and medical care in Syria, with leaders from the United Nations and Arab League offering encouragement for the plan to proceed.
“This is a minimalist plan to protect hospitals and health workers in Syria and to help the thousands of families cut off from medical care,” Senator Carr said.
“Australia’s plan is not a military or political intervention.
“It is necessary because of the Security Council deadlock over a ceasefire.
“In the last 24 hours I’ve presented the plan to the Joint Special Envoy for Syria Lakdar Brahimi and to UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Valerie Amos.
“Both offered encouragement.
“Similar support was received from European and Arab foreign ministers over the last seven days.
“We’ll continue to seek public support.”
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.
More than 30,000 Syrians have died in the current civil conflict, and the United Nations has estimated more than 2 ½ million others are in need of humanitarian care and up to 500,000 are homeless.
This week Australia also provided another $4 million for Syrian medical aid, comprising:
- An additional $2 million for medical supplies and emergency food aid in Syria; and
- An additional $2 million for food, shelter and health care in Syrian refugee camps in Jordan and elsewhere.
This $4 million additional contribution lifts Australia’s total commitment to the Syrian humanitarian crisis to $24.5 million. Australia is now the third largest national contributor to humanitarian aid for Syria, behind the United States and the United Kingdom.
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