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 Al-Hawl camp in Syria © 2019 Human Rights Watch
(Sydney) – The Australian government should bring home Australian children of parents who may have joined armed groups and who are living in deplorable conditions in camps in Syria, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and Save the Children said today. The following is their statement:

Civil Society Groups Call for the Urgent Repatriation of Australian Children of Foreign Fighters

Ahead of tonight’s ABC “Four Corners” program, three civil society groups are jointly urging the Australian government to bring home dozens of Australian children of foreign fighters languishing in Syrian camps.

There are currently more than 60 Australian children and women living in desolate camps in northeast Syria, where there is no running water, poor access to education, and extremely limited health facilities.

Save the Children, Human Rights Watch, and Amnesty International stand united in their call for the Australian government to urgently repatriate all these children and women.

Save the Children Australia CEO Paul Ronalds said:

“Children are the innocent victims in all this, they have been through hell and they must not be punished for the actions of their parents. We cannot forget about them and let them continue to suffer in dangerous camps that simply aren’t fit for children. Like millions of Syrian children, these Australian children have lived through conflict, bombardment and acute deprivation. We appreciate that there will be serious questions to answer for the adults involved, but that shouldn’t stop us from doing the right thing by these children.”

Amnesty International Australia Refugee Coordinator Dr Graham Thom said:

“We know conditions in the camps are dire. Children are going without food and water and their safety is constantly threatened by violence, disease and malnutrition. These Australian children did not choose the hardships they are currently enduring. We urge the government to intervene immediately and save these mothers and children as soon as possible so that they can all return to Australia, where they belong.”

Human Rights Watch Australia Director Elaine Pearson said:

“Children should be treated first and foremost as victims. The Australian government should be doing what it can to protect its child citizens and bring them home, not abandon them to disease and death in a foreign desert.”

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