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Syrian conflict could ‘continue for generations’

Australia’s former ambassador to Syria has warned the humanitarian crisis in the war-ravaged nation could continue for generations.

As many as 340,000 people have sought to cross European Union borders since January, and a further 240,000 have been killed in Syria since 2011 when the conflict started.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott said on the weekend a larger percentage of Australia’s humanitarian intake will come from the Middle East, but the total won’t increase.

‘This could go on for generations, there’s no solution in prospect for Syria,’ former ambassador Bob Bowker told Neil Mitchell.

‘I’m afraid there’s going to be a continuing humanitarian disaster in and around Syria.’

Mr Bowker, who was Australia’s ambassador to Syria from 2005-2008, said Australia could benefit from the numbers of Syrians with world-class educations in professional positions.

‘When you’re talking about the Syrians, you’re talking about a group who are some of the best educated people in the Middle East,’ he said.

‘They are not welfare oriented in the least, they are very business like, very entrepreneurial, they are very secular.

‘I think they’d adapt very well into Australian society.’

Full interview: Bob Bowker shares his insights on 3AW Mornings