Hexham MP calls for action to help in an 'unimaginable' crisis

Northumberland MP Guy Opperman is calling for action to help humanitarian organisations reach the millions affected by the civil war in Syria

Andrew Parsons / i-Images Hexham MP Guy Opperman with children at a Syrian refugee camp
Hexham MP Guy Opperman with children at a Syrian refugee camp

Hexham MP Guy Opperman has returned from a visit to Syria to call for action to help the millions of people affected by the civil war.

The Northumberland MP travelled to the Nizip 2 refugee camp on the Turkey-Syria border and has now called for humanitarian organisations to be able to access the worst hit parts of the war-torn country.

While on the visit he met representatives of Unicef, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Syrian opposition leaders and military commanders, as well as dozens of refugees who are being helped with winter clothing and a social action project.

Mr Opperman said: “It is now absolutely vital that the EU and the UN ensure the safe passage for humanitarian organisations to reach people in Syria who are in desperate need and find it impossible to get access to aid. I have seen for myself the challenges they are facing in this most desperate part of the world.

“The Government has already rightly committed £500m to help those affected by the conflict. This is the UK’s largest ever response to any humanitarian crisis.

Andrew Parsons / i-Images Hexham MP Guy Opperman with children at the refuge camp just outside Gaziantep, Turkey
Hexham MP Guy Opperman with children at the refuge camp just outside Gaziantep, Turkey
 

“It will provide support including food, medical care and relief items for over a million people including those affected by the fighting in Syria and to refugees in Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and Iraq.

“I am particularly concerned by the plight of the many children caught up in this monstrous conflict. Over 50% of the refugees are under 18, that is almost unimaginable.”

He added: “The fundamental mission now must be to secure a deal on the safe transit of aid to those who need it most, that is what I believe will make the biggest difference to the many innocent people caught up in this horrendous conflict.”

Millions of people have been either killed or displaced since the start of the Syrian crisis almost three years ago.

The UN this week made history by asking for £4bn to help the people of Syria over the coming year - its biggest request ever for a single crisis. UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon said that around half of the Syrian population, more than 9m people, are in urgent need of aid.

He was speaking at a donor conference in Kuwait which aimed to raise $6.5bn and had secured $2.4bn in pledges by the end of Wednesday.

An estimated 6.5m people are now displaced inside Syria. More than 2.3m have registered as refugees outside Syria, many living in camps across the region which are barely coping.

There have been reports of starvation in towns cut off by fighting and worries that a harsh winter in the region will worsen the situation.

Journalists

David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer