- There are 67 Australian women and children living in refugee camps in Syria
- Federal government said they won’t repatriate them during coronavirus period
- Foreign Minister Marise Payne said it is too risky to move people amid COVID-19
- Australia has been pressured by the US to relocate our families with links to IS
Australia has been pressured by the United States to prosecute citizens linked to ISIS and bring their families home from war-torn Syria.
There are 67 Australian women and children living in camps like the Al-Hawl refugee camp in north-east Syria, with many stuck for years after the fall of ISIS.
Foreign Minister Marise Payne said at the Australian-US Ministerial consultation in Washington DC it is too risky to move people under current travel sanctions amid COVID-19.
‘Movement in Syria and in the region is now more complex than ever and at home, we see our states and territories very stretched, as an understatement in some cases, because of the impact of COVID-19 infections,’ she said.
The federal government said they won’t repatriate 67 Australians stranded in Syrian refugee camps during coronavirus period. Pictured: a mother and child in the Al-Hol refugee camp in northeastern Syria
Foreign Minister Marise Payne (pictured) said it is too risky to move people amid COVID-19
The government has been criticised for not using the coronavirus period as a chance to tend to the stranded Australians when repatriation flights were chartered to locations all over the world.
Ms Payne said greater resources would be required to safely transport and monitor extremists on their journey back to Australia.
‘We will not put our communities at home at risk, nor our officials abroad, to extract people from Syria under current conditions,’ she said.
There are up to 70,000 people in stranded in the Al-Hawl camp, which has limited food, flooded tents, harsh winter conditions and poor healthcare, with illness rampant in the setting.
Save The Children chief executive Mat Tinkler told SBS the federal government must act now to bring the 67 Australians home.
‘The alternative – leaving Aussie kids languishing in a war zone – is unthinkable,’ he said.
Australia has been pressured by the US to relocate our families with links to IS from the camps back home. Pictured: Iraqi refugees watch a gathering at the Al-Hol camp in Syria