Australia to give additional funds to Syria

Canberra, Feb 4 (IANS) Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop on Thursday announced the country will contribute an additional $18 million in humanitarian aid for Iraq and Syria in coming months.

The aid will be distributed between the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), World Food Programme (WFO) and Australian NGOs working in the region, Xinhua news agency reported.

Bishop said the government and the opposition felt compelled to assist those suffering through the “world’s worst” humanitarian crisis.

“Australia’s assistance will help Syrian refugees and their host communities in the region access vital resources such as food, shelter and protection,” she said.

“This increased contribution will support civilians affected by the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.”

About 13 million people require urgent humanitarian assistance. A further 4.6 million Syrians are refugees in neighbouring countries. An estimated 10 million people in Iraq also require urgent humanitarian support this year.

“In addition to this increased humanitarian funding, the Australian government will also deploy 10 Australian Civilian Corps specialists to Lebanon and Jordan to assist UN and NGO partners deliver education, water, sanitation, camp infrastructure, logistics and protection to Syrian refugees.”

Bishop said a small proportion of the aid money would also be given to the UN agencies in Iraq, as they continue to help communities destroyed by the Islamic State (IS).

The Australian government will also provide an additional $3.5 million for Iraq, including $1.4 million to the UN Development Programme (UNDP) to help stabilise areas of the country liberated from the IS.

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