Brooks Newmark calls for support for UN Security Council resolution 2139, which says that aid must get to the Syrian people who are currently displaced internally and with no support.
Mr Brooks Newmark (Braintree) (Con): I congratulate my hon. Friend on securing this debate and thank the Government for all they are doing to support the Syrian people. Does not my hon. Friend agree that there are two problems? There are now actually more than 3 million displaced people—1 million in Lebanon, 1 million in Jordan and 1 million in Turkey—and 7 million internally displaced people. Does he agree that it is a priority to get the international community, particularly the UN, to ensure that there is support for Security Council resolution 2139, which says that aid must get to the Syrian people who are currently displaced internally and with no support?
Guy Opperman: I totally agree. It is significant, is it not, that as we began the fourth year of this conflict, the United Nations finally took significant action on 27 February and passed resolution 2139, which deals with the humanitarian crisis inside Syria? Adopted unanimously, it calls for an immediate end of all violations of international humanitarian law and violations and abuses of human rights; it demands that all parties fully implement the provisions of the Security Council and asks them immediately to lift the sieges of populated areas and to provide unhindered cross-border and cross- line access for UN humanitarian agencies and their implementing partners, stressing the need to end impunity for violations. I will talk about that in more detail.
The UN has helpfully conducted a 30-day review of resolution 2139, which means that every month it is reviewing how aid is progressing from outside into Syria and the impact that the resolution is having. I urge all parties that are interested to study those reviews— I have copies here—and note that, in reality, aid is not getting through to any great degree or in any meaningful assessment. Therefore we have to ask ourselves what more we are prepared to do.
Mr Newmark: My hon. Friend is missing one part of resolution 2139, on the cessation of barrel bombs. Barrel bombs are highly destructive and are exacerbating an already bad humanitarian crisis. It is important that we give more teeth to the resolution, to stop the Assad regime dropping barrel bombs on its own people.
Guy Opperman: The one action that we have taken is to attempt to stop the chemical weapons. Three shipments of chemical weapons have been destroyed already. Russia says that Syria should complete the transfer of its weapons stocks and they should be totally destroyed by 30 June. The problem is that, chemical weapons having been taken out of the game, almost—we are getting there—the preferred weapon of choice is the barrel bomb. I endorse what my hon. Friend said. The barrel bomb is wreaking havoc within Syria and is making life extraordinarily difficult, not just for Syrians, internally, but in respect of how we get humanitarian aid to those people. With barrel bombs being used regularly, it is exceptionally difficult.
Mr Newmark: Will my hon. Friend join me in paying tribute to Ali Gunn, who travelled with us to Nizip and sadly died a couple of months ago? My hon. Friend and I have discussed using the Nizip refugee camp as an example of best practice. Surely one of the things the UK can do is to ensure that the best practice we saw in Nizip is shared with other refugee camps, particularly in Jordan, which seems to be fairly chaotic at the moment.
Guy Opperman: I endorse both of my hon. Friend’s points. We need a detailed understanding of what the UK Government are going to do. First, what representations will they make to the United Nations so that it considers resolution 2139? For the first time—some could argue this has taken too long, but we are where we are—we have a common United Nations resolution agreed by all parties that provides a framework for getting things done inside Syria, but that resolution is not working. That may not surprise any of us who have watched, observed and visited the Syrian conflict. The question is what more we are prepared to do. It is a question not of picking a side and fighting for that side but of specifically trying to understand how aid will get into Syria.