Australia pledges $12 million to help the Syrian people

Media release

16 January 2014

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has announced Australia will contribute an additional $10 million in humanitarian aid to help people affected by the conflict in Syria and $2 million to support efforts to destroy Syria's chemical weapons.

This brings Australia's total assistance in response to the Syrian crisis to $112.8 million since the conflict began in 2011.

Australia has played an active role in international efforts to address the Syrian crisis including through the UN Security Council. These contributions reflect the Australian Government's ongoing concern about the worsening conflict, its human toll and the effect on international peace and security.

More than 100,000 people have died and 9.3 million people - almost half the population - are in need of humanitarian assistance. Neighbouring countries now shelter more than two million refugees, nearly three-quarters of whom are women and children.

The $10 million humanitarian contribution will go to United Nations agencies to provide winter essentials, shelter, health care and schooling to refugees in neighbouring countries, provide polio vaccinations and support humanitarian access inside Syria, and assist with refugees in Jordan and Lebanon.

The images of the chemical weapons attack in Damascus in August were horrifying. The use of these indiscriminate weapons of mass destruction is a grave threat to international peace and security.

The Australia Government will contribute $2 million to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to support their work with the United Nations in overseeing the destruction of Syria's chemical weapons. Australia's contribution to this important international mission reflects our longstanding commitment to the global ban on chemical weapons.

Australia was among the first countries to ratify the Chemical Weapons Convention which established the global ban and we have consistently called on Syria, and all countries, to adhere to and implement it. The Syrian conflict needs an urgent political solution. Australia strongly supports the forthcoming Geneva II negotiations and urges the Syrian regime and the opposition to participate constructively in the talks.

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