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Syria: Ceasefire

Foreign and Commonwealth Office – in the House of Commons on 17th March 2020.

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Photo of Dominic Raab Dominic Raab The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs

We welcome the ceasefire in Idlib agreed by Turkey and Russia on 5 March, and we call on all parties to respect it and make it permanent.

Photo of Jim Shannon Jim Shannon Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Human Rights), Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Health)

First, may I wish you, Mr Speaker, and all right hon. and hon. Members a happy St Patrick’s day from everyone in Northern Ireland?

The crisis in Syria means that Lebanon is in the middle of an economic crisis, and its infrastructure was already straining to support an influx of more than 1 million Syrian refugees, who now make up 20% of the country’s population. Those refugees are also facing coronavirus. What steps is the Minister taking to ensure that Syrian refugees, particularly those from more vulnerable groups, are adequately supported?

Photo of Dominic Raab Dominic Raab The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs

I thank the hon. Gentleman. Let me say at the outset that I totally agree with him about the need to stem the flow of refugees. He mentions Lebanon; of course, Turkey has also taken 4 million refugees. The first thing to say is that we must hold the Syrian regime and the Russian Government to account for the brutality of the fighting, which is causing the refugee flows. We must do everything within our power to firm up the ceasefire and make it nationwide, and then also, of course, provide humanitarian support. The Department for International Development announced £89 million in new aid for Idlib this month. On 11 March, the RAF delivered 37 tonnes of UK aid. I was recently in Turkey talking with the Foreign Minister and President Erdoğan about the measures that we need to take to bring that terrible conflict to an end.