The Lord Bishop of Coventry: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to ensure that targeted aid reaches civilians in communities and towns under siege in Syria.
Baroness Verma: The UK is deeply concerned that, according to UN figures, 422,000 people currently live in besieged areas in Syria. DFID works with trusted humanitarian organisations that endeavour to assist these populations and others in hard-to-reach areas.
The UK strongly condemns and calls for an end to the unlawful denial of access to impartial humanitarian partners. We have been instrumental in securing the passage of three UN Security Council Resolutions – 2139, 2156 and 2191 – demanding that all parties respect international humanitarian law and allow unhindered humanitarian access.
The Lord Bishop of Coventry: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the merits of developing a Marshall Plan to assist Syria’s neighbours in meeting the humanitarian needs of civilians displaced by the conflict in Syria.
Baroness Verma: To date, the UK has pledged over £1 billion in response to the humanitarian crisis in Syria and the region. The UK has allocated £519 million to support refugees in the region and vulnerable host communities to date, including £279 million in Lebanon and £183 million in Jordan. In Turkey, the UK has allocated £29 million for programmes supporting Syrian refugees including food, shelter and primary healthcare. The UK is also working in partnership with multiple Turkish institutions on targeted projects to build their capacity to tackle irregular migration.
We have been working intensively in recent weeks to lobby the EU and Member States to develop a substantial package of measures on migration and economic development between now and 2020. The UK has called for a €10 billion development–focused EU migration package focusing on upstream work in source and transit countries to address the lack of jobs and opportunities for those who rightly aspire to a better life. The UK government is working with partners right across Europe to ensure that, collectively, we are able to deliver a significant and comprehensive development response to this crisis.
The Lord Bishop of Coventry: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to ensure the protection of civilians from war crimes committed in the conflict in Syria.
Baroness Anelay of St Johns: We have a long-standing commitment to accountability for human rights violations and abuses. We will continue to press for the protection of civilians in the UN Security Council where we have secured vital resolutions to improve humanitarian access and seek accountability for chemical weapons attacks. These resolutions have also consistently called for an end to attacks on civilians.
We continue to support the UN Commission of Inquiry’s investigations into human rights violations and abuses in Syria. In partnership with other donor countries, we are funding the collection of documentary evidence for use in possible legal processes in the future. Last year the UK co-sponsored a UN Security Council resolution to refer all those responsible for war-crimes and crimes against humanity in Syria, regardless of affiliation, to the International Criminal Court. Russia and China chose to veto this resolution.