Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr today announced an additional $12 million to help international relief agencies respond to the humanitarian crisis unfolding in Syria and neighbouring Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey.
Speaking from the Faour refugee camp in Lebanon, senator Carr said the funding lifted Australia’s humanitarian support for the Syrian crisis to more than $78 million.
“Since fighting began in 2011, more than 80,000 Syrians have been killed and 1.5 million people have become refugees,” Senator Carr said.
“By the end of the year, the number of Syrian refugees could reach 3.6 million.
“Syria’s neighbours have been generous in welcoming Syrians displaced by the conflict, but they desperately need more help.
“If donors have promised financial support to those affected by the crisis in Syria, now is the time to fulfil those promises.”
Senator Carr said Australia’s additional $12 million in emergency funds would provide:
• $9 million to the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Australian Red Cross to help Jordan and Lebanon host Syrian refugees; and
• $3 million for basic medical supplies, to train health care workers in first aid and emergency surgery, to distribute food parcels and supply clean drinking water within Syria.
“Every day more than 5,000 Syrians cross into the neighbouring countries of Lebanon and Jordan,” Senator Carr said.
“Three quarters of the Syrians fleeing the conflict into Lebanon and Jordan are women and children and many of the children are not accompanied by parents or family.
“Water, sanitation, education and housing services are severely strained.
“Australian non-government organisations are playing a key role in providing food, essential household items and cash assistance to Syrian refugees in Jordan and Lebanon.
“Under the Humanitarian Partnership Agreement with the Australian Government, four Australian emergency response partners (CARE, Caritas, Oxfam and Save the Children) will help vulnerable people who have fled to Lebanon and Jordan, and the local communities that are supporting them.”
Senator Carr made the announcement during a visit with Australia’s Ambassador to Lebanon, Lex Bartlem, to Syrian refugee camps along the Lebanese border.
Foreign Minister Bob Carr today released the Independent Review of the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR), which confirms the important role the Centre plays in delivering food security and creating opportunities for many of the world’s poorest farmers.
Senator Carr said the review found that Australia’s aid efforts are enhanced by the independent role that ACIAR plays.
“ACIAR is an integral part of the aid program, deploying Australia’s world-leading expertise in agricultural research for the benefit of poor farmers in our region and beyond,” Senator Carr said.
“Agricultural research delivered by ACIAR has demonstrated strong returns.
“The review cites independent economic assessments showing benefits from ACIAR projects valued at $31.9 billion.
“Improving agricultural productivity for the five-hundred million people living in poverty who rely on farming is essential to achieving food security.
“Australia is a world leader in the delivery of research outcomes to help poor farmers in the developing world.
“The work of ACIAR is vital to Australia’s contribution to increasing global food security.”
The review team has also outlined the challenges ahead for ACIAR.
The panel have identified a number of key areas where recommendations have been made to help ACIAR meet these challenges.
Senator Carr said meeting the recommendations of the review demonstrates ACIAR’s commitment to effectiveness of delivery in the aid program.
“ACIAR is developing a new strategic plan that will position ACIAR to further its contribution to Australian aid,” Senator Carr said.
“The review team have said that ACIAR is an institution of which all Australians can be proud. I too share that view.”
The Independent Review of the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research is available at aciarreview.info
Foreign Minister Bob Carr yesterday, May 20, said Mr Matthew Joyce would continue to receive full consular support following the guilty verdict in the Dubai court yesterday and throughout his pending appeal.
It is understood Mr Joyce will appeal the Dubai court’s decision.
Senator Carr said he had spoken to the UAE Foreign Minister HH Sheikh Abdullah at the Doha Forum in Qatar after the judgement. Senator Carr had drawn attention to the length of time involved in the case and expressed the desire that appeals be dealt with expeditiously, given the matter commenced more than four years ago.
The case concerns allegations relating to a property transaction in Dubai involving a Nakheel Group subsidiary Dubai Waterfront.
The Australian Government has made more than 40 representations to senior government officials in Dubai and the government of the UAE on behalf of Mr Joyce and others involved in the court proceedings.
Speaking in the Senate, Foreign Minister Bob Carr today said the lead-up to CHOGM offers an opportunity for the Commonwealth to highlight areas that require progress in Sri Lanka, and offer practical assistance where appropriate.
Senator Carr said engagement, not isolation, is the most effective way to promote human rights, the rule of law and democratic governance in Sri Lanka. For this reason, the Australian Government has reaffirmed it will attend CHOGM in Sri Lanka.
“I will continue to urge progress on human rights in Sri Lanka,” Senator Carr said.
“This includes accountability for events at the end of the civil conflict.
“Australia co-sponsored a resolution on reconciliation and accountability in Sri Lanka in the UN Human Rights Council in March.”
Senator Carr said he raised the importance of accountability for events at the end of the civil conflict with senior members of the Sri Lankan Government during his visit to Colombo last December.
“We continue to urge Sri Lanka to show progress on implementation of the recommendations of its Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Report.
“Australia will remain at the forefront of nations looking for progress.
“Media and civil society continue to operate in a difficult environment. I have also raised concerns about the impeachment of the Chief Justice.
“Improvements in these areas and others are necessary to achieve genuine reconciliation in Sri Lanka.
“Sri Lanka is emerging from the trauma of three decades of civil conflict. Now is the time for reconciliation.
“We support Commonwealth Secretary-General Sharma’s use of his Good Offices, to encourage practical useful steps to enhance cooperation between Sri Lanka and the Commonwealth.”
Australia has invested more than $226 million in humanitarian and development assistance since the end of the conflict in May 2009.
Australian assistance has included:
• support for de-mining and reconstruction of housing and schools;
• training and loans to 4,000 female-headed households to re-establish livelihoods;
• improved sanitation facilities for over 6000 tea estate workers.
The Gillard Government will increase Australia’s Official Development Assistance (ODA) to a record $5.7 billion in 2013-14.
This is an increase of $513.4 million on 2012-13 and brings the aid budget to 0.37 per cent of gross national income (GNI).
“This is the highest the aid budget has been as a percentage of GNI in over twenty-five years and, in dollar terms, Australia’s largest aid budget in history,” Minister for Foreign Affairs, Senator Bob Carr said.
Australia remains committed to increasing its aid budget to 0.5 per cent of GNI, however given substantial write-downs to Budget revenues, the Government will defer this target by one year, to 2017-18.
“We have seen great progress towards the Millennium Development Goals in our region, and Australia is committed to supporting these goals,” Minister Carr said.
“But major challenges remain.”
Around 900 million people in the Asia-Pacific still live in poverty and nearly 20 million boys and girls do not attend school.
“Stable neighbours with healthy and educated populations are good for Australia. It is in our trade, economic and security interests to provide aid,” Minister Carr said.
The 2013-14 Budget continues to implement the Government’s Comprehensive Aid Policy Framework which emphasises our focus on our neighbours. Over 85 per cent of Australia’s country specific aid is delivered in the Asia-Pacific region.
New aid initiatives in the 2013-14 Budget include:
Enhancing Australia’s Commitment to Development in the Asia Pacific Region
The Gillard Government has announced $390.9 million to support increased efforts to accelerate progress towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in our region.
This funding will:
• Target malnutrition among women and children in the Asia-Pacific, providing over one million people with better access to food and improved nutrition;
• Lift universal education by supporting an additional 1.2 million children reach school; and
• Increase access to maternal and child health services for a further 900,000 women.
This funding demonstrates Australia’s commitment to lead efforts in our region to fight poverty. This role has been acknowledged with the United Nation’s Secretary General’s invitation to Prime Minster Gillard to co-chair his MDG Advocacy Group.
Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI)
This initiative provides $498.9 million over the forward estimates to support Australia’s continued commitment to RAMSI. Australia’s assistance to this regional initiative will ensure ongoing support for the law and justice and governance sectors which from 1 July will form part of Australia’s bilateral development assistance to Solomon Islands.
This initiative will also ensure that the Australian Federal Police are able to continue their contribution to RAMSI’s Participating Police Force.
Joining the African Development Bank
This Budget provides funding for Australia to join the African Development Bank. Australia’s contribution to the Bank will help to reduce poverty and to provide technical and financial assistance to encourage economic and social development in Africa.
Joining the African Development Bank was a recommendation of the Government’s Independent Review of Aid Effectiveness.
Australia will continue to invest in international scholarships for students from developing countries with funding for around 6,000 Australia Awards Scholarships and Fellowships. Supported by the Australia Award Office, established on 1 January 2013, the Awards deliver on a key commitment made as part of the Australia in the Asian Century White Paper.
Contribution to IMF’s Poverty Reduction and Growth Trust
Through this initiative, the Australian Government will make a payment of $50.6 million to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Poverty Reduction and Growth Trust. Australia’s contribution will support the IMF’s assistance to vulnerable, low income countries. The IMF promotes measures to mitigate the impact of crises on the most vulnerable in society.
Support to the United Nations Mission in the Republic of South Sudan
This initiative provides the Australian Federal Police $2.1 million over two years from 2013-14 to continue its participation in the United Nations Mission in South Sudan. This mission aims to consolidate peace and security in the new republic. The AFP has contributed 10 members to the UN Police component of this program since 2011.
Combating People Smuggling – Enhancing the Regional Response
This initiative provides the Department of Immigration and Citizenship and the Attorney Generals Department a combined $65.8 million over the forward estimates to continue implementing key recommendations from the Houston Report on Asylum Seekers.
In addition, the Government will report funding for the basic needs for asylum seekers in Australia as ODA. This is consistent with the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Development Assistance Committee’s (DAC) Reporting Directives. It is practised by other developed country donors, such as Netherlands, Canada, Sweden, Norway and Switzerland.
To provide certainty for the aid budget, the Government will cap expenditure from the existing ODA funding envelope in any one year at $375 million.
“The Gillard Government remains committed to supporting our region,” Minister Carr said.
“While we have deferred our 0.5 per cent of GNI target by a year, we are still providing a record amount in aid, over $500 million more than we did last year.”
We’re continuing to increase Australia’s official development assistance while the opposition wants to slash spending on the region’s most vulnerable.
The 2011-12 Annual Review of Aid Effectiveness released in January 2013 demonstrated that Australian aid is effective – that it represents value for money.
The Gillard Government is continuing to increase Australia’s official development assistance while the Opposition wants to slash spending on the region’s most vulnerable.
Joint media release
• Senator the Hon Bob Carr, Minister for Foreign Affairs
• The Hon Dr Craig Emerson MP, Minister for Trade and Competitiveness, Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on Asian Century Policy, Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Science and Research
Measures announced yesterday, May 14, in the 2013-14 Budget for the Foreign Affairs and Trade portfolio reinforce the Gillard Government’s commitment to protect and advance Australia’s interests abroad.
The Government will invest $52.6 million over three years to construct secure, purpose-built residential accommodation in Kabul to provide a more manageable security environment for Australian staff working in Afghanistan.
The Government will also allocate $50.6 million over seven years to construct a new, more secure High Commission in Kenya.
The new High Commission building reflects Australia’s expanding trade and investment links with Kenya and East Africa.
In 2011-12, Australia’s two-way trade with Africa was valued at $11.6 billion with it growing at an average annual rate of 9.5 per cent over the last five years. Australia’s commercial relationship with Africa is focused on mining. Estimates suggest there are well over 200 Australian mining companies active in around 42 countries in Africa with current and prospective investments estimated to be approximately US$50 billion.
The Government will provide $215.9 million over seven years to upgrade and replace the government’s secure international communications network. This new international communications network will support greater information sharing across government agencies, and will ensure classified information is better protected.
The Government will also commit $14.1 million over four years to continue DFAT’s coordination role for the Regional Assistance Mission to the Solomon Islands (RAMSI).
RAMSI has been one of the most successful security and development operations anywhere in the world.
This funding will allow DFAT to continue coordinating Australia’s leadership of RAMSI as Solomon Islands continues the transition towards long-term stability, security and prosperity.