Syria aid ... Bob Carr. Photo: Reuters
Australia will contribute a further $5 million to meet humanitarian needs in Syria as government troops continued their assault on rebels, defying a ceasefire agreement brokered by the United Nations.
Foreign Affairs Minister Bob Carr made the announcement after a meeting with the United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, in the US on Tuesday.
He said the humanitarian assistance would include $3 million for food assistance through the World Food Program and $2 million for the UN's Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
“Amid the ongoing violence, Australia will continue to help alleviate the suffering of the Syrian people,” Senator Carr said.
Senator Carr also said the government would implement further sanctions against the Syrian regime, in line with Australia's international partners, if President Bashar al-Assad refused to change course.
“Australia already imposes sanctions against members of the Syrian regime involved in violence and repression,” he said.
Those sanctions have been targeted at 106 individuals and 28 Syrian government-related entities.
“Australia also supports efforts to collect evidence about serious crimes occurring in Syria, so that those responsible for such crimes can be held accountable,” he said.
“The Australian government strongly supports the work of the Joint Special Envoy of the UN and Arab League, Kofi Annan, and the call by the UN Security Council for the urgent, comprehensive and immediate implementation of Mr Annan's proposals to end the crisis.
“I will have opportunities for further discussions on Syria in New York this week, including with ambassadors from the region,” Senator Carr said.
“I commend the Secretary-General for the international leadership he has demonstrated in responding to the situation in Syria.
“It is now imperative the Syrian government implement its commitments to Mr Annan so that a ceasefire can be established, overseen by an effective monitoring mechanism”.
Nick O'Malley is the United States Correspondent for the Herald and The Age.