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Civilians in Syria

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 10:20 pm on 12th October 2015.

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Photo of Tobias Ellwood Tobias Ellwood The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs 10:20 pm, 12th October 2015

I will not give way. The other legitimate means for engagement include article 51 of the UN Charter, or the right collectively to defend others, or intervention to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe, as we saw in Kosovo. The final such means is an invitation by the leader, which is what we saw in Iraq.

The hon. Member for Batley and Spen mentioned the humanitarian situation. The UK has been at the forefront of the humanitarian response to the conflict in Syria. I am pleased to say that we have pledged more than £1.1 billion in aid in response to the crisis in Syria and the region. I visited the Zaatari camp in north Jordan in the summer and my hon. Friend the Minister for the Armed Forces, who is in her place, has just come back from Azraq. I am pleased to say that we are seeing how well British money is spent. It is clear that refugees want to stay in the region where they have family and cultural ties, and the cost of housing one refugee in the UK equates to supporting more than 20 refugees locally. Let me make it clear that the standard of that support is very different, but that just illustrates the difficult decisions people are having to make in every country about how much money we spend domestically and how much we spend in the region.

The Prime Minister also announced on 7 September the expansion of the Syrian vulnerable persons relocation scheme to resettle up to 20,000 Syrians in need of protection during this Parliament. Since the crisis began in 2011, the UK has granted asylum to nearly 5,000 Syrian nationals and their dependants.

In conclusion, we are well aware that Syria remains the greatest humanitarian tragedy of our time. We must support the desire of ordinary Syrians for a future free of the cruelty of Assad and the barbarity of ISIL. I end by apologising to Opposition Members for not being able to take interventions. As they can see from my notes, I have plenty more to say on the matter—