David Cameron today pressed China and Russia to act on Syria as $1.5bn was pledged for the UN aid operation and more unspeakable horror was uncovered in Aleppo.
At Prime Minister’s Questions, Cameron reiterated the UK’s support for the opposition, and urged China and Russia to agree to take action, including sanctions, against the regime.
Asked by Peter Bottomley:
“On Syria, it’s now clear that the Syrian people would be much better off if China and Russia had not blocked effective action authorised by the United Nations. Can my Right Honourable Friend say what we’re doing to try to help the poor people of Syria?“
“Well, first of all, my Right Honourable Friend, the international development secretary has, likely, visited the Syrian border and seen the refugee camps for herself, and Britain is, I believe, the second largest donor for aid and help into those refugee camps.
“He’s absolutely right to say that one of the biggest things that could happen is for the Chinese and the Russians to consider again their positions and recognise that transition at the top of Syria would be good for the whole of the, that part of the world, and, I would believe, good for Russia as well.
“We should continue to work with the opposition groups in Syria to put pressure on the regime, not least through sanctions, and also provide aid and help for those who are fleeing it.”
Meanwhile, more than $1.5 billion (£950 million) has been pledged by donors for the UN’s aid operation, money the UN says is needed to provide food, shelter and other aid over the next six months to four million people inside Syria and 700,000 others who have fled abroad.
As the BBC’s Jim Muir notes:
“This is good news for a relief effort which has so far been hampered by being severely under-funded. While the US, Europe and others have increased their own donations, what made the difference was a change of heart by some of the rich Arab states of the Gulf. Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Kuwait each promised $300m.
“In the past, the Gulf states have been reluctant to put funds through the UN, partly because it works largely through Damascus. The UN insists, though, that it does not give money directly to the Syrian government, and it is also looking at other ways of getting aid to rebel-held areas.
“While the big new pledges will be extremely welcome, in the past performance has not always lived up to promises. This is also just what is needed for the next six months, and the challenge is growing bigger every day.“
On the ground, the horrors continue.
• Comment: After 60,000 deaths in Syria, why aren’t we acting? – January 9th, 2013
• Syria: Assad jets bomb playground and “kill 10 children” – November 26th, 2012
• Hague officially recognises Syrian opposition and paves the way for action – November 20th, 2012
• Syria: Rebels SAM-up; US increases aid; France recognises opposition; border villages taken – November 14th, 2012
• As Syrian opposition form coalition against Assad, Gen. Richards says UK could intervene – November 12th, 2012