Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Humanitarian Aid to Syria

It is important we remember that Syria is about human tragedy on an immense scale
The number of refugees has now exceeded 2 million, half of them children.

While in St Petersburg at the G20 the Prime Minister announced that the UK will provide £52 million in new humanitarian funding. This brings the UK’s total funding to £400 million, double the £200 million of the UK’s largest previous response to a humanitarian crisis. The Prime Minister has called for a strong and united push from G20 leaders for safe, unimpeded access for humanitarian workers inside Syria, including safe routes for aid convoys and the lifting of bureaucratic hurdles imposed by the regime. This would ensure aid agencies can deliver life-saving help when and where it is needed. For full details see here.
This week, Justine Greening has written about the situation in detail in various papers, including the Guardian
The key facts on the humanitarian situation make clear quite how bad the situation is:

For my part I am proud that the UK is at the forefront of the humanitarian response. We are the 2nd largest humanitarian donor to Syria crisis relief after the US. A year ago there were 230k refugees from Syria. Now it is over 2 million and rising.
The UK is providing food for over 285,000 people every month, clean water for almost 1m people, and over 300,000 relief items like blankets. Lebanon, a country of 4 million, will soon host 1million Syrian refugees. The Syrian regime is still obstructing humanitarian operations, which must stop. The UK continues to call on all parties to allow humanitarian access.
Like everyone I would welcome a resolution to the chemical weapon problem, albeit I would struggle to trust the Russians as monitors of any process of detention of weapons. But the proof will be in the pudding - this idea of giving up chemical weapons has been sought for some time with no response by Assad. However, I do regard these last few days as progress.