Barry Sheerman – 2016 Parliamentary Question to the Department for International Development

The below Parliamentary question was asked by Barry Sheerman on 2016-02-01.

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, what assessment she has made of the effectiveness of aid disposed in Syria in protecting people from disease and starvation.

Mr Desmond Swayne

UK support has reached hundreds of thousands of people in Syria, enabling vulnerable Syrians to survive. By the end of June 2015, UK support inside Syria had provided over 15.1 million food rations, access to clean water for over 1.6 million people, 2 million medical consultations and resulted in over 6.9 million instances when people benefited from sanitation and hygiene activities.

We are concerned that the 2015 UN appeals for the Syria crisis were severely underfunded, meaning Syrian people did not receive the food, shelter and medical treatment they needed so desperately. The UK is playing its part. The "Supporting Syria and the Region London 2016)" Conference was held on 4 February last week, and more than US$11 billion was pledged to support people in Syria and the region affected by the conflict, the largest amount raised in one day for a humanitarian crisis. Commitments made at the Conference will help to create 1.1 million jobs and provide education to an additional 1 million children. The UK remains at the forefront of the response to the crisis in Syria and the region. We have doubled our commitment and have now pledged a total of over £2.3 billion, our largest ever response to a single humanitarian crisis.

Across Syria, Assad and other parties to the conflict are wilfully impeding humanitarian access on a daily basis. It is outrageous, unacceptable and illegal to use starvation as a weapon of war.

The UN, the Red Cross Movement and NGO partners are best placed to deliver aid to people who are starving. They have the mandate, expertise and capacity to assess needs and deliver an appropriate, timely response. We continue to press for them to be granted full access to all areas in need. We also lobbied hard for UN Security Council resolutions 2165, 2191 and 2258, enabling the UN to deliver aid across borders without the consent of the regime. As a result, 240 shipments of cross-border aid have been delivered by road to Syrians in need.

The most effective way to get food and medical assistance to vulnerable Syrians is for Assad and all parties to the conflict to adhere to international humanitarian law. That is why the UK Government is calling on the Assad regime and all parties to the conflict to allow immediate and unfettered access to all areas of Syria.