Fresh pleas to bring ill Australian children home from Syria

Reports of the deteriorating health of Australian kids in refugee camps in Syria have sparked renewed calls for them to be brought home.

The Al-Hawl refugee camp.

The Al-Hawl refugee camp. Source: Supplied

Advocates have made a fresh plea to bring Australian children held in Syrian refugee camps home, as their health reportedly declines.

They are calling on the federal government to repatriate them and insist the children are not a security threat.

Aid organisation Save the Children said 47 Australian kids are suffering from pneumonia, malnutrition, infections and gunshot wounds in various Syrian refugee camps.

Policy director Mat Tinkler said the situation has become desperate.

"The camps have been flooded already," he said.

"There's been wind storms that have decimated the tents. The water and sanitation conditions are dire. Children are dying from diarrhoea and waterborne disease."

Family expresses frustration

Kamalle Dabboussy holds grave concerns for his daughter, Mariam, and her three children.

He said one of his grandchildren is suffering from severe dental pain and another has a worsening walking disability.

Kamalle Dabboussy says he fears for his daughter, Mariam, and her three children.
Kamalle Dabboussy says he fears for his daughter, Mariam, and her three children. Source: SBS

"As a father, it's one of the most frustrating things - to have your own daughter and your family in circumstances that are dangerous and circumstances that could result in losing them any day, and not being able to do anything," he said.

Mr Tinkler is urging the government to embrace the Christmas spirit and bring them home.

"All it takes, frankly, is the political will. So that's what we're saying to the Prime Minister: now's the time to act. This is the season for the generosity of spirit. We should take that and apply that to these Aussie kids in these camps."

Government won't put officials at risk

The federal government says it won't put the safety of Australian officials at risk to extract people from Syrian conflict zones.

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton has also said the women and children in Syrian camps could pose security

But Mr Tinkler said the women have agreed to be put under strict control orders, which would include ankle monitors, adhering to a curfew and having their emails monitored.

And Mr Dabboussy said the children should not be punished for the actions of their parents.

"Whatever you may think of the adults, the children require safety. They need to be taken out of harm's way. We ask the government to show leadership to help protect those children."

Australia's stance on whether to attempt repatriations is in contrast to a number of other nations which have already taken back some citizens.

Britain, the United States, Denmark, and Germany have already been repatriating their citizens from a number of camps in Syria.

3 min read
Published 20 December 2019 at 7:10pm
By Gloria Kalache