Jim Cunningham – 2016 Parliamentary Question to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office

The below Parliamentary question was asked by Jim Cunningham on 2016-01-11.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, whether his Department is taking steps to broker negotiated ceasefires to allow the creation of aid corridors across Syria; and if he will make a statement.

Mr Tobias Ellwood

The UK plays a key role in ensuring humanitarian access to Syria. The UK co-sponsored and lobbied hard for UN Security Council Resolutions 2165, 2191 and 2258 which enable the UN to deliver aid across borders, without the consent of the regime, to assist those in the hardest to reach areas.

The UK will consider options compliant with international law that might save lives in Syria. However, experience suggests that so-called ‘safe’ areas or corridors can prove difficult to demilitarise and protect against all threats. In fact, there is a risk that they can become targets. For an aid corridor to work, all parties to the conflict would need to agree to its establishment. In the absence of such consent, foreign military intervention may be necessary, under the authority of a UN Security Council resolution.

An estimated £275 million of humanitarian assistance funded by the UK for inside Syria has been allocated to the UN and NGOs for cross-border operations. We are now encouraging the UN to consider alternative means of assistance such as cash, to support vulnerable populations that are increasingly hard to reach. We continue to call on all sides to the conflict to respect International Humanitarian Law (IHL) and ensure free, unimpeded access for humanitarian agencies.