I attended the emergency debate in Parliament this week on the horrific situation in Aleppo. It is all too clear that what is happening in Syria, and particularly in its second city, is nothing short of a humanitarian disaster. Thousands are facing starvation, going without medicine, and coming under sustained military attack.
The United Nations has reported tens of thousands of people fleeing the city and many more thousands trapped under gunfire and dozens, perhaps many more, being murdered by forces backing the Syrian government.
The government stated earlier this year that airdrops should be used ‘as a last resort’ to deliver humanitarian aid. In my view, we have now reached that point and the government should take the urgent steps required to agree an immediate plan for airdrops with the UN and our international partners. We also need international monitors on the ground in Aleppo to prevent the murder of civilians and to oversee the safe evacuation of all who want to leave.
Whilst the delivery of humanitarian aid, safe evacuation and international monitoring will provide immediate relief to the suffering, there can be no rest in efforts to find a long-term solution to the violence in Syria. It is clear that this can only be achieved through a political settlement.
It is incumbent on all parties to return to negotiations and renew efforts in good faith towards a lasting ceasefire, the isolation of terrorists, and the opening of safe channels across the country for the delivery of vital humanitarian aid.
President Assad, Russia, Iran and Hezbollah must be held to account for the roles they have played in the massacre of Aleppo. I believe that we must also recognise that there has been a global collective failure every bit as great as that which preceded the massacres of civilians in Srebrenica.
I can assure you that I will continue to work with colleagues across Parliament to persuade the government to act urgently.