Clare Short and Andrew Mitchell, Former British Labour and Conservative International Development Cabinet Ministers return from Syria - Turkey border to demand protection for refugees, an end to grotesque abuses of human rights and international law, sanctuary in safe havens, an end to the bombing of civilians and unfettered access for humanitarian relief.
The two former Cabinet Ministers say:
During our visit, organised by the Muslim Charities Forum, we were inspired by the work being undertaken by British Muslim Charities often in very dangerous circumstances . We witnessed an entirely British funded convoy of 90 trucks organised by the Human Appeal moving across the border into Syria with flour for 200 bakeries throughout Idlib Province.
But an already hideous catastrophe grows daily worse as 3 million refugees inside Syria in 14 besieged areas face starvation and air bombardment. Half the remaining civilian population has no clean water access and 5,000 schools have been destroyed.
The major powers must ensure progress now takes place in the Geneva Talks. The London pledging conference this week under British, Kuwaiti and Norwegian Leadership must ensure that the refugee camps in Lebanon and Jordan are fully funded and Turkey urgently receives promised EU financial support. The World Food Programme whose funding reductions mean rations in some locations run at 50 per cent of need must receive a full replenishment for the duration of this crisis.
Immediate and unfettered humanitarian access throughout all Syrian Provinces must be guaranteed. All attacks on civilians must cease with a complete end to air attack on civilian targets.
If these steps are not taken - together with urgent steps to support livelihoods, training and schooling for refugees in the Region and inside Syria then the inevitable migration fuelled by 50 families being displaced each and every hour will cause further disruption destabilisation and misery and refugees seek sanctuary and stability throughout Europe and the wider region.
Also part of the delegation, Othman Moqbel, CEO of Human Appeal commented,
"Human Appeal have been working in Syria since the conflict there began. In that time we have seen the humanitarian situation get worse and worse. The UN estimates that there are now over 10 million people displaced by this conflict - which is almost half of the Syrian population. It is essential that governments act to bring about a solution to this desperate situation."
Chairman of the Muslim Charities Forum, Dr Hany El-Banna OBE hopes that this visit will help inform the upcoming Syria pledge conference this week.
“We have had the fortune of having two former Secretaries of State for International Development on this visit – people who truly understand what it means to help those in poverty and in need. I hope that their experience reaches those at the upcoming pledging conference in London and rallies the international community to collectively find a solution to this crisis.”
Dr El-Banna added, “I also hope that this visit will shed light on the work that the Muslim charity sector, local humanitarian organisations and indeed the entire humanitarian sector does, in difficult parts of the world. The challenges currently facing Muslim charities, such as banking restrictions and access in conflict areas; make their work harder than ever. Their efforts should not go unnoticed nor should their contributions go unheard.”
Othman Moqbel is available for interview.
A delegation organised by the Muslim Charities Forum to Turkey included participation from members Human Appeal and Islamic Relief UK. It took place during Thursday 28th January 2016 to Sunday 31st January 2016.
The Muslim Charities Forum is the umbrella organisation of Muslim NGOs with members including Islamic Relief, Muslim Aid, Muslim Hands, Human Appeal International, Human Relief Foundation, Islamic Help, Muslim Charity, READ Foundation, Orphans in Need and Al-Imdaad Foundation.