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Statement on British air strikes in Syria

Thursday, March 12, 2015
Yesterday the British Parliament unanimously voted in favour of air strikes in Syria. Within hours, British jets bombarded oil refineries in the eastern region of the country.

As the number of countries taking part in the bombing of Syria increased over the past few months, the number of civilians who have been displaced, injured or killed has soared drastically. Air strikes will no doubt cause long term damage to Syria’s infrastructure, and civilian casualties are unavoidable.

Since October 2015, over 200,000 civilians have been forced to flee their homes and move to other parts of the country in search of safety as a direct result of  increased air strikes. Civilians urgently require shelter, food, clothing and medical attention. The injured face long journeys to the few hospitals that are still operating after a series of attacks on medical facilities.

Hundreds of doctors have fled the country, leaving hospitals under-staffed and struggling to cope with the influx of patients coming through the doors each day. Camps near the borders are no longer safe and aid trucks have been targeted. Any additional air strikes will further exacerbate the situation.

Targets on oil refineries will no doubt drive up the price of fuel, which is required to fuel generators that are used to power our hospitals. Civilians use fuel for heating in the absence of wood or coal. People in besieged areas will pay a heavy price for air strikes, there is simply no way out for them, and nowhere safe to hide. Most aid agencies cannot gain access to besieged areas, meaning shortages in aid, food and supplies are commonplace.

For families who have spent the past few months or years moving from city to city for temporary shelter, they will be driven to resort to fleeing Syria through unsafe routes, risking their lives in search of safety outside the country.

Our staff in Syria are operating under increasingly difficult conditions and risk their lives each day to continue to deliver life-saving humanitarian aid. In August we lost one of our most dedicated members of staff in an airstrike.

We are unable to focus on the long term development of Syria, as long as we are consistently forced to divert our attention on emergency aid efforts and the immediate humanitarian crisis.

We call on the British government to exercise caution and to do it’s utmost to protect the rights of the Syrian people.