Press release

PM: World must not fail a generation of Syrians

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

The world risks failing a generation of Syrians if aid agencies don’t get safe access to reach people in desperate need inside the country, Prime Minister David Cameron warned today.

Photograph of food supplies arriving in Syria
The Prime Minister called for unimpeded access for aid agencies who are delivering life-saving supplies inside Syria - such as food and medicine. Picture: Abeer Etefa/WFP

The world risks failing a generation of Syrians if aid agencies don’t get safe access to reach people in desperate need inside the country, Prime Minister David Cameron warned today.

Speaking from the G20, the Prime Minister announced that the UK will provide £52 million in new humanitarian funding. This brings the UK’s total funding to £400 million, double the £200 million of the UK’s largest previous response to a humanitarian crisis.

The Prime Minister called for a strong and united push from G20 leaders for safe, unimpeded access for humanitarian workers inside Syria, including safe routes for aid convoys and the lifting of bureaucratic hurdles imposed by the regime. This would ensure aid agencies can deliver life-saving help when and where it is needed.

The new support from the UK will help reach those in desperate need as a result of the ongoing conflict across the region, including the women and children who make up the majority of refugee numbers and are amongst the most vulnerable in the conflict. The new support would enable aid agencies to:

Inside Syria:

  • provide food to nearly 23,000 people and clean water for over 130,000 people
  • shelter for over 44,000 people forced out of their homes by the fighting and
  • medical consultations for over 35,000 people.

In neighbouring countries:

  • provide food for 21,000 Syrian refugees and clean water for over 14,000
  • shelter for 15,000 people and
  • over 6,000 health consultations.

International Development Secretary Justine Greening said:

The crisis in Syria has left millions of people needing urgent food supplies and medical attention, but the Assad regime is creating bureaucratic barriers that stop help getting where it is needed. Inside Syria, medical deliveries have been blocked and aid workers attacked and killed.

G20 leaders must now speak with a single voice and send a clear message to all sides to this conflict. Unless access improves, we risk a lost generation of Syrian children – the very generation who will be expected to build the peaceful, democratic Syria of tomorrow.

Practical steps to ensure improved humanitarian access include:

  • agreement by all parties to the conflict on key humanitarian routes inside Syria to ensure the timely and safe passage of convoys along these routes, including across front lines
  • agreement by all parties on a system to create pauses in the fighting to allow humanitarian agencies to provide help to the most affected areas and to evacuate the sick and wounded
  • individuals recognised by all parties to the conflict and by humanitarian agencies who can act as a go-between to discuss and resolve barriers to aid delivery
  • lifting of bureaucratic obstacles by the Syrian Government to accelerate visas, customs approvals, NGO registrations and authorisations of humanitarian convoys to ensure aid can get through more quickly
  • approval of cross-border assistance from the Syrian Government to allow the regular passage of relief convoys through international border crossings where that is the most effective way to get help to affected areas
  • agreement from all parties to protect humanitarian premises, staff, vehicles and equipment and to respect humanitarian principles and the impartial nature of assistance.

Notes to editors

  1. Humanitarian access means both protected passage for civilians seeking safety and provision for relief organisations to deliver assistance to meet the needs of vulnerable, affected populations, wherever they are.

  2. The UK Government is calling on all parties to the conflict to uphold their obligations under international humanitarian law to protect civilians and to allow humanitarian workers unimpeded humanitarian access without interference or threat of violence.

  3. The UK’s largest humanitarian response prior to the Syria crisis was a total of £200 million in new funding to the recent horn of Africa Crisis. The response to the Pakistan floods was £134 million and £140 million in emergency humanitarian and development support for the Indian Ocean tsunami on Boxing Day 2004.

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Published 6 September 2013