For release: Tuesday April 22, 2014

The Australian Christian Lobby has welcomed the government’s announcement that it will contribute $20 million to provide schooling for Syrian refugee children but says more should be done given the scale of the crisis.

ACL’s Managing Director Lyle Shelton said whilst the government’s pledge is commendable, the enormity of the humanitarian crisis in Syria requires a lift in our humanitarian intake from 13,700.

“So far, around 2.7 million people have been displaced as a result of the continuing crisis in Syria and 140,000 have died in what is one of the world’s biggest humanitarian crises since World War II.”

Mr Shelton said cuts to Australia’s Millennium Development Goal promise on overseas aid would also restrict our ability to respond.

“We are a prosperous country by comparison and have a moral responsibility to provide greater aid to those suffering around the world, especially given the large number of displaced persons in this instance,” Mr Shelton said.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop yesterday announced that $20 million would go towards a joint Australia, United States, United Kingdom and United Nations initiative to provide schooling for almost one million Syrian children.

Earlier this month, ACL expressed disappointment at a senate inquiry report recommendation to extend the time by which Australia increases its overseas aid in line with its bi-partisan MDG promise.

Mr Shelton said that the escalating number of asylum seekers from Syria meant a refugee intake of just 13,700 was too low for an adequate response to the sheer numbers of people displaced by the Syrian and other conflicts.