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Friday 10 February 2023

End Russia’s veto on aid to Syria

Today, Syrians and friends of Syrians are writing to UK Government ministers calling for action to bring an end to Russia’s veto on aid to Syria.

The letter in full:

The Rt Honourable James Cleverly
Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs of the UK

CC: Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, The Rt Honourable Andrew Mitchell

10 February 2023

Dear Foreign Secretary,

Re. Humanitarian catastrophe in northwest Syria

We write urging you to do all possible to bring an end to Russia’s veto on aid to Syria. There is an urgent need to deliver aid and special equipment for search and rescue teams, as well as humanitarian aid for victims of both the earthquake and Assad’s war. There is also a growing consensus that there is no legal impediment to delivering cross-border aid. (www.crossborderislegal.org)

We welcome your public statement of Tuesday 7 February of additional support to the White Helmets, and the subsequent press release promising humanitarian help to Turkey and Syria, noting that “the UK is prioritising what the Turkish government and UN are asking for.”

But we see with shock and dismay that the only route being considered by the UN into non-government areas of Syria—the Bab Al Hawa border crossing—was out of operation for several days. The Assad regime is demanding that the only route for international aid is via Damascus. UN agencies, as well as the UK and its partners, know from extensive experience over the past twelve years how the regime in Damascus will block aid to non-government areas.

We call on the UK to take three steps:
  1. Work with the sovereign state of Turkey and with Coalition allies present in northeast Syria to bring emergency aid into northwest Syria outside of the UN system.

  2. Advocate the lifting of restrictions on cross-border aid routes at the UN Security Council.

  3. If Russia continues to block UN aid routes at the Security Council, work to bring about a General Assembly mandate for expanded cross-border aid delivery by any and all viable border crossings.
In these extreme circumstances, the UK and its allies must not be dictated to by rogue regimes on where and how to deliver humanitarian aid.

Action For Sama,
Syrian Legal Development Programme,
Syria Solidarity UK,

Tuesday 7 February 2023

Syria earthquake — how to help

What can we do?
Support frontline humanitarian and medical organisations working on the ground:

Recommendations via SBC.

What can the UK Government do?
While the UK Government has promised an uplift in aid to Syria Civil Defence — the White Helmets — it is clear that much more will be required.

Close to three million displaced Syrians who fled the Assad regime now live in northwest Syria, one of the regions hardest hit by the earthquake. The UK Government and its allies need to help end the isolation of displaced Syrians along Syria’s borders.

Many Syrians resettled in the UK have close family members still trapped in Syria, parents, siblings, separated for years. Many will have lost friends and family in the earthquake. The UK Government must now show compassion and ease conditions for family reunion.

Supporters of the Assad regime are using the crisis to call for an end to sanctions. Targeted sanctions against the Syrian regime are directed against individuals responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity, torture and mass-murder of civilians. This crisis must not be a route to impunity.

The ONE THING that Putin and Assad do not want!
The one thing the Assad regime doesn’t want is the one thing that is most needed.

For years, the Russian government, allied to Assad, has used its veto at the UN Security Council to restrict the flow of aid to the displaced millions in northwest Syria.

Restrictions on cross-border UN aid must end NOW, to respond to the acute crisis of the earthquake, and to alleviate the chronic suffering caused by Assad’s war on civilians.