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A transition plan for Syria

April 22, 2013

Foreign Minister Bob Carr today called for international agreement on plans for the future of Syria, including humanitarian aid, the post-Assad transition, a democratic government and commitments on excluding al-Qaida and refraining from chemical weapon use.

Senator Carr will discuss the plans with European Foreign Ministers, Arabic representatives and the Arab League in talks on Syria in Luxembourg today (from 2am April 22 AEDT).

“The Syrian war has become one of the world’s great humanitarian crises,” Senator Carr said.

“More than 70,000 people are dead and millions have fled their homes. Around 70 per cent of the country’s doctors and medical staff are unable to work due to targeted attacks, and there are reports of diseases such as typhoid.

“The United Nations estimates by the end of this year more than 9 million Syrians, or nearly half the population, will have fled their homes.

“It has been described as risking the greatest refugee crisis since World War Two.

“The world is acting through humanitarian aid and nonlethal support to the Syrian opposition. But we need to secure commitments on a future democratic Syria subject to the rule of law.

“There must also be an absolute exclusion of extremist or jihadist elements such as al Qaida from any future Syrian government.

“I’ll be seeking international support for this four-point plan on Syria’s future, at these talks in Luxembourg today.

Senator Carr said plans include:

Increased humanitarian aid

• Australia to provide an additional $24m to international humanitarian organisations such as the World Health Organisation for emergency medical and food supplies (see attachment)

• Protection for aid workers – Australia to seek formal agreement from the Syrian opposition to avoid targeting of health workers and allow universal access to hospitals in Syria. More than 140 medical workers have been killed or abducted in Syria over the last two years including from targeted attacks.

An orderly transition

• An international and Syrian commitment to an orderly transition which respects lives and property of minority groups and to restore basic policing and health services.

A democratic Syria

• Agreement from all parties that a future Syria would be democratic and exercise the rule of law by holding individuals responsible for their actions, rather than institutions or ethnic groups.

Commitments by the Syrian opposition:

• To reach out to communities such as Christians and Alawites, and ensure they have a voice in a new Syria;

• Not to tolerate revenge attacks against organisations or minority groups;

• Not to use chemical weapons and to immediately secure existing stocks to prevent them being seized by terrorists; and

• To ensure al-Qaida and other extremist groups are excluded from any future Syrian government.

Today’s talks will be attended by the Foreign Ministers from Australia, the UAE, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Sweden, Luxembourg, Greece and representatives from the Arab League, aid organisations, the United Nations, European Commission and the Council of Europe.


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