‘We all hear their cry for help.’

But the government won’t commit to humanitarian air drops.

In the weeks leading up to the end of the siege in Aleppo, Syrian peacekeeping force The White Helmets called on the UK to provide humanitarian assistance by airdropping urgently required supplies. Our Foreign Office minister, Tobias Ellwood, declined. News reports and statistics of the catastrophic situation of the Aleppo siege, which went on for over 100 days, were overwhelming. It seems ridiculous. The UK is surging with anti-migrant rhetoric and unwilling to take in refugees fleeing because they fear death. At the same time, it seems we are now refusing to provide vital humanitarian aid which might enable people to survive and lessen the need for flight. How, exactly, is this helping anybody?

The Syrian civil war has dominated headlines since 2011. Instead of improving, the situation has become increasingly dire with each year passing. People are suffering on a mass scale, with the employment of chemical weapons, large-scale bombing and most recently the use of sieges to increase pressure. The UN has said the current situation in Aleppo is “unlike any we have witnessed in Syria”. 275,000 people, at least 100,000 of which are children, are experiencing the horrendous realities and consequences of the siege the civil war has brought about. Meanwhile, Foreign Office Minister Ellwood claims that providing the asked for airdrops would endanger the UK planes. He has not, however, managed to provide an alternative. As news of summary killings by government forces trickles through, it seems as though any action now may be too little, too late.

The political situation in Syria at the moment is incredibly complex and an easy solution may not be at hand. However, people are suffering immensely right now and require any short term support available. Surely an experienced government with funding and modern technology at its fingertips should be able to figure out some means to stop thousands from facing death on a daily basis. At the moment it seems the biggest factor slowing progress on the humanitarian aid front is a lack of determination. With UN’s Stephen O’Brien’s words ‘Syria is bleeding. Its citizens are dying. We all hear their cry for help’ still ringing in our ears, the government’s inaction seems absolutely appalling.

[Kirsty Campbell]

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