“Funding is not a reason. I’m sure some people have asked ‘why isn’t this being used in places like Syria?’ I would say this is an extreme case. It’s very important that the system is open so that other things can be done there with greater transparency. The point of being open – and I wouldn’t say this as a policy but more a philosophical position – is that it’s a place where people can be educated. For this to be an option it needs to be seen as a possibility. For people to want to be educated or to have the means to be educated, it needs to be viable.”
The Syrian civil war’s humanitarian impact is huge. A UNHCR report in June estimated that up to 13 million Syrians have become internally displaced, including one million children. There is a need to rebuild infrastructure, ensure security and deliver services to communities hit by conflict. “Even just the provision of shelter to the displaced is not enough,” said Sigrid Kaag. “The number of tents for the internally displaced is at around 70,000. Where is the country with the capacity to build and support new homes?”
This is a big, complex issue, one that cuts across international aid to those seeking a better future. In the end the focus must be on people’s welfare, not just on humanitarian aid. “It’s really important because even if it works, the biggest challenge we face in Syria today is really in reconstruction.”
“It’s time to start doing something different and that is what we’re aiming for. And I can see how we’re doing that. I have no idea how far I can get, but it is clear that the younger generation are not really interested or are even concerned.”
A new survey by public broadcaster SBS of Australians who have made their views public reveals a number of views that go against many of those of the conservative political figures and commentators who have been on the offensive in the wake of Sunday’s terrorist attacks.
In the SBS survey, more than two thirds of respondents said that the terrorist attack was “extremely” or “very much” related to Islamic terrorism.
There have been calls within the United States and Britain for stronger action on Islamic extremism, particularly following the twin attacks last month in Paris and in Beirut.
Among the respondents polled by SBS, more than half thought that the recent suicide bombings in Nice and Dhaka were “completely or almost completely” Islamic, followed by three-quarters opposed the execution or
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