Australian Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton on Friday ruled out extracting women and children from refugee camps in Syria during a temporary ceasefire in the war-torn country.
Dutton’s remarks come after the US and Turkey on Thursday reached an agreement on a five-day truce and the establishment of a safe zone in northern Syria, where the Turkish forces had been fighting against the Kurdish militia, following talks between the two sides in Ankara.
The Minister said it was still too dangerous to send Australian troops into the region.
“The advice is consistent to us, and that is that there’s not an opportunity given the danger there at the moment,” he told the media here.
“These are people that would, in our judgment, not all of them but some of them have the potential and capacity to come back here and cause a mass casualty event,” he said.
Dutton said he remained hopeful that the Syrian ceasefire would lead to peace in the region.
“Well I hope that like every observer of this that there can be peace and people can return back to their villages,” he said.
But Save the Children acting CEO Mat Tinkler said the temporary ceasefire was an opportunity to bring home trapped Australian citizens.
“This short window renews the opportunity for the Australian Government to bring these women and children to safety,” Tinkler said.
“These camps in northeast Syria are one of the worst places in the world to be a child, with the recent escalation in violence only worsening conditions and heightening danger.”