Foreign Minister Bob Carr today welcomed the temporary ceasefire in Syria, commencing at 3pm AEST today (6am in Damascus).
“I strongly support the initiative of United Nations Special Envoy Lakhdar Brahimi in seeking a ceasefire across the Muslim holy days of Eid Al Adha,” Senator Carr said.
“If this ceasefire holds it will be a welcome pause in this horrific national struggle.
“More than 30,000 people have been killed and over one million driven from their homes.
“As of this morning, the ceasefire proposal has tentative support from government and most opposition forces.
“This three-day break in fighting may be the first step toward a longer peace.
“Australia will support efforts by international bodies such as the United Nations and Arab League to encourage a negotiated settlement.
“And we’ll be continuing our humanitarian aid which is assisting tens of thousands of refugees and has helped evacuate 500 seriously wounded civilians.”
Senator Carr said the ceasefire could also support Australia’s plan to protect medical workers in Syria by reducing military targeting of doctors and obstruction of Syrian hospitals.
The plan has broad international encouragement, including from the Organisation of Islamic States. It would be pursued further when Australia takes its seat on the UN Security Council in January.
More than 30,000 Syrians have died in the current civil conflict, and the United Nations has estimated more than 2.5 million others are in need of humanitarian care.
There are also an estimated 350,000 Syrian refugees in camps in Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq.
In September, Australia 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 lifted Australia’s commitment to the Syrian humanitarian crisis to $24.5 million. Australia is the third largest national contributor to humanitarian aid for Syria, behind the United States and the United Kingdom.