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‘A crisis that very much has a child’s face’

Former UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Baroness Amos on Syria in the latest Policy Shop podcast

“We’ve seen what happened with Angela Merkel and the decision she took and the political hit that she has had as a result of doing that. But she did the right thing, and many of us applauded the decision she took, but the political commentators said almost immediately, this is a political mistake, she will pay the price for it, and indeed she already has.”

The words of Baroness Valerie Amos, Director of the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) at the University of London, and former UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, on the latest Policy Shop podcast, The Syrian Crisis – a global policy failure?

Baroness Amos spoke at the recent Sir Robert Menzies Oration at the University of Melbourne

Baroness Amos is speaking on this, the twelfth episode of the podcast, which is hosted by Professor Glyn Davis, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Melbourne.

Estimates suggest perhaps a quarter of a million Syrians or more have been killed and over a million injured. Close to five million have fled or been forced to leave the country, and a further six and a half million are displaced within Syria. This war has sparked the largest forced migration crisis since the Second World War.

“States tend to see and hope that refugee problems are temporary in nature. It turns out they’re not and in fact, in UNHCR’s recent statistics, they indicate that the average length of a protracted refugee crisis is 26 years,” said the other guest on the podcast, Professor Guy Goodwin-Gill, an expert in international refugee law from the University of Oxford.

In a discussion that also looked at Australia’s role in this crisis, Professor Davis highlighted that “one of the most confronting experiences of the past half-century is to go to the original Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem, and to walk in and the first thing you saw was a wall that had on it a quote from the Australian representative at the Evian Conference of 1938 explaining why Australia wasn’t going to take refugees from Europe and specifically Jews from Germany”.

‘Quite clearly in the case of Australia we have a country which can fulfil that responsibility.’

The Policy Shop is a podcast where we look at public policy subjects with global and Australian experts. Subscribe on iTunes and follow us on Twitter.

Banner Image: Refugees on their way back to the Syrian city of Jarabulus wait at the Karkamis crossing gate, in the southern Turkish region of Kilis, on September 7, 2016. Picture: Bulent Kilic/AFP/Getty Images

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