Latest Update: 31 March 2013
The human rights situation in Syria continued to deteriorate in the first quarter of 2013. Over 70,000 Syrians have died, four million are in desperate need and there are more than one million refugees. The UN has labelled the situation a level 3 humanitarian crisis; the worst humanitarian situation of the 21st century.
We fully support the work of the UN Commission of Inquiry, which continues to gather evidence of human rights violations and abuses with the aim of bringing those responsible to account. Their latest report, published on 18 February, noted that while there was evidence of human rights abuses committed by the opposition, these did not reach the intensity and scale of those committed by government forces and affiliated militia.
We welcomed the UN Human Rights Council’s adoption of a new resolution on Syria on 22 March, which extended the mandate of the Commission of Inquiry for a further 12 months. It expressed grave concern at the continuing escalation of violence, and in particular the continued widespread and systematic gross violations of human rights and the continued use of heavy weapons and aerial bombardments by the Syrian authorities. It called upon all parties to put an end to all forms of violence.
The UK is doing all it can to help all those affected by the violence and are playing a leading role as a bilateral donor to the international humanitarian response. We have contributed nearly £140 million in humanitarian aid so far. This is funding food for over 120,000 people a month, drinking water, medical assistance for 100,000, blankets and shelter for tens of thousands of people in Syria and neighbouring countries.
There are now over one million refugees registered or in process of registration in neighbouring countries, double the 500,000 logged in December 2012. UNCHR is registering 7,000 refugees on average each day. On 27 February the High Commissioner for Refugees, Antonio Guterres, stated that we may see between two and three million by the end of the year. There are also over three million internally displaced persons across Syria.
The UK continues to support the Syrian National Coalition so that they can protect the lives of ordinary Syrians. On 6 March the Foreign Secretary announced to Parliament an additional £2.7 million of technical assistance and non-lethal equipment support for the Syrian opposition, civil society and human rights defenders in this financial year and a further £10 million in the next financial year. This will bring our total support to over £22 million.