Aleppo, a UNESCO world heritage centre, Syria’s second city and formerly home to 2.3 million people is now close to total obliteration. Syria’s bitter civil war has consigned this great city to a battleground since 2012 and as so often in civil war situations civilians are paying the price of a political battle that shows no signs of abating. The 100,000 men, women and children trapped in eastern Aleppo are struggling to survive in what can only described as a hell on earth. The city is bombed every day by President Assad’s forces backed at every stage by Russia and Iran. Hospitals, schools and homes are targeted and deadly barrel bombs land indiscriminately. The last UN convoy was allowed into eastern Aleppo in July. There have been none since. Supplies of food, fuel and medical supplies are virtually exhausted. Many people are without shelter in temperatures of -4 degrees centigrade others huddle in the dark in air raid shelters (there is no power to light them) terrified and hungry. The injured writhe in agony, others lie in pools of their own blood as the few remaining doctors attempt life saving operations often with no anaesthetics, no dressings and no access to medication.
The international community has a duty to help. I have joined with Labour MPs to call on the Government to act.The UK still has considerable influence with the UN and in Europe and we must offer leadership and action on behalf of these people who so desperately need help. I supported the emergency debate and have personally contacted the Prime Minister and the Foreign office about this issue. We urgently need in the short term:
1. A ceasefire so that the injured can be evacuated to safety
2. Air drops of food, fuel and medical supplies
In addition we need to initiate negotiations for long term peace because if Aleppo is obliterated and President Assad is left unchecked he will move on to the next city to do the same all over again.
I believe very strongly that this is not a case of party politics. This is a matter of common humanity and we all have a duty to do everything possible to relieve the suffering of these innocent people. So in that spirit it doesn’t matter whether we are front benchers, back benchers, Conservatives or Labour We must pull together to positively influence the international community to bring urgent assistance.