Protection of Civilians in Afrin

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 7:56 pm on 12th March 2018.

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Photo of Alistair Burt Alistair Burt Minister of State (Department for International Development) (Jointly with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office), Minister of State (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) (Joint with the Department for International Development) 7:56 pm, 12th March 2018

I am grateful to my hon. Friend, but the honest answer to her question is that I cannot ensure it and the United Kingdom Government cannot ensure it. That would be to suggest something that we just do not possess and it seems inappropriate for me to do so. All I can say is, along with others in the international community, we will continue to make the representations we can. We moved for a ceasefire in Syria in general, UN resolution 2401, which the Secretary-General spoke about just a few days ago. We worry that these norms are not adhered to. In the immensely complex situation of northern Syria—its Turkish border, what has been experienced in Turkey over the years and the long-standing conflict—the United Kingdom Government can give an assurance on none of this. All we can say is that we are very clear that humanitarian considerations must come first. There must be humanitarian access. The best way to deal with almost any of the conflicts that have arisen in the area is through political dialogue, not the escalation of conflict that will lead only to the resurgence of conflict as soon as this one is over.