Protecting hospitals and health workers in Syria
This week I’ve been meeting with Foreign Ministers from the European Union and the Middle East on the issue of Syria.
Based on these discussions, Australia will now bring forward a plan to protect and respect access to hospitals and medical care in Syria, which has been severely interrupted by the ongoing conflict.
The plan would involve securing a commitment from all sides:
• not to target medical personnel
• not to block access to doctors, hospitals or emergency care; and
• not to attack medical facilities.
This would not be a military or political intervention in Syrian affairs.
It would be simply designed to protect the lives of ordinary Syrians caught in conflict zones.
I’ll be seeking broad international support for this humanitarian goal – to reduce the toll of dead and wounded in Syria by respecting access to medical care.
Support would be required from Middle Eastern and European states, and from Russia.
Implementation could be monitored by a neutral third party, such as a non-government organisation.
More than 30,000 Syrians have died in this conflict.
The United Nations has estimated more than 2 ½ million Syrians are in need of humanitarian care and up to 500,000 are homeless.
We remain committed to any action that would bring this conflict to an end
But we need also to care for those caught in the fighting right now.
This proposal could assist tens of thousands of Syrians in need of medical aid and unable to reach it as fighting continues in their cities or towns.
In addition to this plan, Australia will also provide another $4 million for the delivery of medical aid to Syrians.
• $2 million for medical supplies and emergency food aid in Syria; and
• $2 million for food, shelter and health care in Syrian refugee camps in Jordan and elsewhere.
This is what Australians do – helping those in need in global conflicts, with humanitarian aid and basic food and medical support.
This $4 million additional contribution lifts our 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.