EDDIE MAGUIRE Joining us now is the Foreign Minister Julie Bishop.
Good morning Julie.
JULIE BISHOP Good morning Eddie. Good morning team.
EDDIE MAGUIRE Thanks for joining us this morning on Triple M’s Hot Breakfast. Julie obviously the big story is what is going on in Syria. What is the latest position of the Australian Government?
JULIE BISHOP This is an international crisis of massive proportions beyond the capacity of any one country or region to respond but Australia will do its part. Our Immigration Minister Peter Dutton is in Paris. He is going on to Geneva meeting with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. He has got more meetings today with the International Organisation of Migration. There are a number of options available to us including the permanent resettlement of people fleeing Syria.
We are focussing particularly on the families, women and children of persecuted minorities. There are ethnic and religious minorities that are persecuted in these countries and we are looking at taking people from the camps. There are a number of camps along the Syrian border, in Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan, but there are also options of providing temporary safe haven to people who will want to return to their homes once the conflict has ceased. So we are looking at a range of options including increasing our humanitarian support. Already we’ve provided about $156 million in relation to the Syria crisis and we are considering what more we can do.
LUKE DARCY Julie, horrific the images are of people fleeing and the devastation and trauma, you just can’t imagine, and congratulations for getting on the front foot with this. Have you got an idea of how many people are displaced in Syria at the moment and how many still to come?
JULIE BISHOP There are literally millions of people who are displaced in the region. Not just Syria, but take into account Iraq as well because this conflict is one theatre of war in fact. The Assad regime has been attacking civilians within Syria. The terrorist organisations are driving people away. They are carrying out brutal, violent attacks on civilians. The ultimate solution of course is to defeat the terrorist organisations that are driving people away and to come up with a political solution with the Assad regime so that we can return some kind of peace and stability to the region. But the figures are in the millions, there are about 1.2 million Syrians living in Lebanon alone so it is a massive problem and we are part of what would be part of the national response.
EDDIE MAGUIRE Julie can you just quickly paint a picture for us of the ordeal that these people are going through and why they are fleeing Syria?
JULIE BISHOP Syria is ruled by a Shia Muslim minority, the Alowites, in a country of a Sunni majority so there is conflict and tension there already but there are also ethnic minorities - the Assyrians, the Kurds, there are religious minorities – Christians, Jews, the Maronites and there is a civil war going on between the Shia and Sunni tribes but then there is also these terrorist organisations, ISIL or Da’esh, al Nusra Front, the Khorasan Group and they are fighting anyone who doesn’t believe in their perverted ideology. So the conflict is many layered. It’s all diabolical.
Of course in Iraq it is a Shia majority ruling over a Sunni minority so it is the opposite and there is conflict there. There are also minorities in Iraq who claim persecution, the Christians, the Mandeans, the Yazidis. You will remember the Yazidis were up on that mountain some time ago and were being starved of food and water so the situation is absolutely diabolical.
We will be part of an international solution that will involve European countries, countries in the Middle East and I hope countries in the Persian Gulf, for everyone can do more and I believe Australia will certainly play its part.
EDDIE MAGUIRE Good on you Julie, good luck with everything you are doing there. It is such a horrible situation you find yourself in but do your best for Australia as you always do. Last question from Mick Molloy.
MICK MOLLOY Just a quick one Julie, I can’t let you go without asking you for a tip re West Coast/Hawthorn this weekend. How do you see it falling?
JULIE BISHOP Eagles by 30 points.
LUKE DARCY Fairly succinct from the Foreign Minister there.
JULIE BISHOP Well I watched them last weekend against St Kilda and they were in magnificent form. Nic Naitanui has had a stellar year. Our forward line is very impressive so I’m looking forward to a big win against the Hawks and then we have a rest week and then a final back in Perth.
MICK MOLLOY Alright, got it all worked out.
LUKE DARCY I understand Julie flies in Friday, Grand Final eve, and just ready for the West Coast Eagles should they get through.
JULIE BISHOP Fingers crossed.
EDDIE MAGUIRE Thanks Julie.
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