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UK government’s work on Syria has only just begun

30 August 2013

Christian Aid welcomes the UK government’s decision against military intervention in Syria; efforts must now focus on a political solution to the conflict.

Syrian refugees

‘No’ to military action

Yesterday, the House of Commons voted against taking military action in Syria.

We worked with our fellow faith-based agency CAFOD to engage with MPs before the vote, emphasising the likely humanitarian impact of military action. 

Our experience responding to the humanitarian situation in Iraq, post-invasion, and more recently in supporting Syrian refugees across the region, has demonstrated to us the devastating impact conflict has on civilians, and that political rather than military solutions must be found.

  • ‘Military forces cannot bring the peace to Syria through military intervention, but the civilian people will be the main victims.’

One of our partners in northern Iraq, REACH, which has supported Iraqis over the past two decades, and Syrian refugees over the past two years, said: ‘Military forces cannot bring the peace to Syria through military intervention, but the civilian people will be the main victims.’

MPs on all sides of the debate were highly engaged yesterday, as was their unanimous abhorrence at the reported use of chemical weapons in the conflict and the on-going suffering of Syria's people was clear.

We welcome the intense efforts displayed by MPs in addressing the issue, and hope that they continue to explore alternative options to respond to the conflict now that UK involvement in a military response has been ruled out.

Yes to peaceful alternatives

We believe Parliament’s decision not to take military action opens the door for the UK government to invest its energy in promoting peaceful alternatives.

There are a number of options which could be explored, including through the United Nations system as well as other international legal mechanisms.

UK role in facilitating dialogue

The UK can play an important role in achieving a political settlement by bringing people to the table and helping to move towards a process of dialogue to end the conflict.

We support our partner REACH’s call for the British government to use its influence to ensure that all parties involved commit urgently to ending the violence through a meaningful and inclusive political process.

Inclusive negotiations

The UK has the means and experience to support political stakeholders and help build skills in negotiations and reconciliation.

We believe it is essential to recognise the efforts Syrians themselves are making to end this conflict. There are many grassroots initiatives for peace and reconciliation already taking place.

A broader engagement that goes beyond the main political actors to include local civil society, faith leaders, and representatives of refugees and internally displaced populations will be an essential part of creating a lasting peace that is necessary for rebuilding.

Humanitarian crisis

While we continue to provide emergency support to those affected by the conflict, only a long term solution can start the difficult process of rebuilding.

The humanitarian situation for the people of Syria continues to worsen, and is having deep and lasting impacts on neighbouring countries.

There are now 8 million people in need of assistance, 2 million refugees, including 1 million children, and more than 100,000 people have lost their lives to date.

One in three buildings within Syria has been damaged or destroyed, and neighbouring countries must now cope with a hugely increased demand on their own infrastructure.

Currently, one in five people in Lebanon is a Syrian refugee. Host communities in Jordan, Iraq, Lebanon, Turkey and Egypt are being placed under pressure as the number of new arrivals continues to grow.

The UK government has played an important role in the humanitarian effort to assist the Syrian people and this decision will enable them to continue to do so.

We call on the government to continue to play this role, and indeed redouble their efforts to ensure a resolution.

How you can help

Please help us to reach the millions of Syrians affected by the conflict by donating to the Syria Crisis Appeal

Find out more

Background on the Syria crisis - read eyewitness accounts from the people of Syria, prayers for the crisis and take action.

Syria Crisis Appeal

Help provide essential services to families and communities in need.

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