Australian Permanent Mission and Consulate-General
Switzerland, Liechtenstein


UN Human Rights Council – 23rd Session

Urgent debate on the deteriorating situation of human rights in the
Syrian Arab Republic, and the recent killings in Al Qusayr

Statement by Australia, 29 May 2013

The ongoing conflict in Syria is having a devastating humanitarian impact, driving an alarming escalation in human rights abuses, suffering and loss of life.

Australia condemns the fierce fighting in Al Qusayr and the human rights violations against innocent civilians, including the indiscriminate shelling by government forces in Al Qusayr.

We are deeply concerned by Hizballah’s increasing involvement in the Syria conflict, and especially by the comments by Hizballah’s leader on 25 May explicitly admitting to Hizballah’s active participation in Syria.

The Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr visited Syrian refugees in the Beka’a Valley, Lebanon, on 23 May. He saw firsthand the thousands who are seeking refuge from the violence in Syria. He met some who had recently fled from Al Qusayr and was deeply affected by their stories of suffering, including widespread human rights abuses: family members killed in the violence, incidents of rape and children traumatised by what they had seen who continue to wake up crying in the middle of the night.

The scale of the humanitarian crisis is starkly apparent in Lebanon. Through the generosity of the Lebanese people, over 1 million refugees have found safe haven there, but the impact on Lebanon (and on other neighbouring countries including Jordan) is rapidly becoming unsustainable.

Australia remains focused on humanitarian needs. Our assistance package, increased last week by $12 million, now stands at $78.5 million. We reiterate our call for all parties to the conflict in Syria to comply with international human right and humanitarian law.