As we mark the ten year anniversary of this conflict, the plight of the Syrian people must not be forgotten.
Unfortunately, progress towards peace in Syria and indeed a Syrian-led, Syrian-owned political process, allowing the Syrian people to decide their country's future, has been slow. The UN-facilitated peace process, in line with UN Security Council resolution (UNSCR) 2254, is the only existing means to achieving this end, and the UK consistently upholds this resolution and urges all other parties to do the same.
The UK, alongside our allies (France, Germany, Italy and US), has been clear that it does not consider the Presidential election of 26 May, held outside of the framework described in UNSCR 2254, to be free, fair, nor legitimate. I am assured that the UK stands unwaveringly behind the UN Special Envoy for Syria’s efforts to promote a political settlement, based on all aspects of UNSCR 2254, which includes the right to vote in free and fair elections.
I have been particularly appalled by human rights violations in Syria, including the treatment of prisoners, and I know that these are issues that the UK continues to raise in international fora as part of its commitment to UNSCR 2254. This is one of many reasons why Syria remains one of thirty human rights priority countries for the UK.
Sadly, if unsurprisingly, the humanitarian needs of the Syrian people are as grave now as they have ever been. An unprecedented 12.4 million people are food insecure – an increase of 4.5 million people in just one year. Children are bearing the brunt of this crisis, with one in eight suffering from malnutrition. The UK is one of the largest donors to the Syrian humanitarian response having so far committed over £3.7 billion since 2012. FCDO Ministers have assured me that tackling the humanitarian impact of the Syria Crisis remains a priority, indeed, I welcome the UK's recent pledge to provide at least £205 million in aid in 2021/22.
The pandemic has, as in many other parts of the world, significantly worsened the humanitarian situation in Syria. The UK is committed to equitable access to vaccines as demonstrated by our £548 million contribution to the COVAX Advance Market Commitment (AMC) – from which Syria is benefitting, with the first batch of vaccines having been delivered on 22 April. The UK is lobbying via the UN to ensure that these vaccines are distributed without interference and to those in the greatest need. Efforts via COVAX complement the UK's existing support to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 in Syria, providing water, healthcare, hygiene kits and sanitation support for vulnerable Syrians across the country.