Press release

Greening pledges new UK help from Syrian border

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

The UK will boost cross-border aid operations into Syria with more than £46 million of new help for civilians in hard to reach areas, International Development Secretary Justine Greening has announced following a visit to the Syrian border.

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Speaking from a crossing point in Turkey used daily by vehicles carrying aid directly into Syria in defiance of regime restrictions, Ms Greening set out how this new UK support will ensure food, medical supplies and shelter reaches areas where people are cut off and receiving little or no help.

Up to half of all British aid for people inside Syria will now be delivered through cross-border operations that bypass the Syrian regime, which is preventing the delivery of aid to large parts of the country.

This approach will reach up to a million Syrians in parts of the country that the UN is currently not able to access and increases both the scale and speed of the assistance that the UK is able to provide.

Speaking from the Syrian border, Justine Greening said:

“The Syrian regime is preventing the delivery of life-saving aid into large parts of Syria, in spite of a UN Security Council Resolution demanding it.

“Hundreds are wounded daily and millions have been forced to flee their homes. Now they are being denied the help they desperately need.

“Britain’s provision of cross-border aid is a pragmatic, effective way of ensuring we can save lives. The UK will continue to support the work of the UN, which is helping millions in many parts of Syria, but cross border operations can reach those the UN cannot.

“While in Turkey I have been fortunate to meet some of the aid workers risking their lives to get this aid across the border. Their courage is giving a lifeline to millions in desperate need.”

Ms Greening was met at the border by representatives from Mercy Corps to discuss their cross-border operations. Mercy Corps will receive £27.3 million of the £46.7 million total in new allocations to provide: food assistance to approximately 76,000 people every month; tents for more than 2,000 families; hygiene kits for 22,500 people; and seeds, fertiliser and training for more than 20,000 people, including women and vulnerable youth.

The remaining £19.4 million will go to agencies providing cross border assistance that currently do not wish to be identified given the sensitivity and security risks to their ongoing operations. The funding will provide vital medical supplies and health services for thousands more Syrians in hard to reach areas.

During the two-day visit to Turkey, the International Development Secretary also met with other NGO partners to discuss their response to the Syria crisis and visited an International Rescue Committee (IRC) warehouse to see aid supplies intended for cross-border delivery. UK funding already supports IRC’s cross-border work.

She also met with the Governor, Co-ordinating Governor and Mayor of Gaziantep to discuss the UK’s on-going efforts to reduce the burden on Turkey by assisting those in need inside Syria and to recognise the generosity of the Turkish people and the huge efforts of the Turkish Government in hosting vast numbers of Syrian refugees.

Notes to editors

  1. Since the start of the Syria crisis, the UK has already provided £76 million to agencies working cross-border. The £46.7 million allocated today brings this total to £122.7 million and is in line with a shift in the UK’s approach to delivering aid inside Syria that will now see up to half of all funding going to agencies working cross-border.

  2. In her statement to the UN Security Council on 26 June, Valerie Amos warned that the number of people in need in hard-to-reach areas now stands at 4.7 million, an increase of 1.2 million since February.

  3. She also highlighted the deliberate denial of essential medicine and medical equipment by the Syrian Government, and warned that the ability of international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to operate in Syria also remains severely constrained due to bureaucratic and operational constraints.

  4. International humanitarian law is clear: the arbitrary withholding of consent to cross border of cross line relief operations (including food, water, medical treatment and supplies) is unlawful and unjustified.

  5. The UN Secretary General has asked for further action in the UN Security Council in in order to help millions of Syrians in urgent need of humanitarian aid. This is why the UK is working closely with Australia, Luxembourg and Jordan on a new resolution that is not political but focuses on humanitarian aid agencies having the full support and mandate to deliver aid to all Syrians across borders without regime consent. Britain’s objective is for this resolution to pass.

Published 5 July 2014