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Volume 542: debated on Wednesday 14 March 2012

We have given direct support to 20,000 families for food rations, medical supplies and emergency water. We are today announcing additional support for humanitarian aid.

The massacres unfolding at the hands of the murderous Assad regime are now being compared to great humanitarian tragedies such as Srebrenica. Unhindered humanitarian access is desperately needed. Has the recent Valerie Amos mission on behalf of the United Nations offered any hope whatever?

Any hope from that mission is severely limited. At the weekend I spoke to Baroness Amos, the head of the United Nations Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs, and on Monday night I spoke to Jakob Kellenberger, the head of the International Committee of the Red Cross. We continue to reflect the horror and indignation at what is happening in Syria—as my hon. Friend expressed—and to demand unfettered access for all humanitarian agencies.

13. Will the Government give a commitment that maximum pressure will be put on Russia in particular to ensure that it plays a far more positive role in future? (99641)

The hon. Gentleman is entirely right to identify Russia as the key blocker to international agreement and to taking effective action on humanitarian relief, and more widely, in Syria. This subject is very dear to the heart of the Foreign Secretary, and he has repeatedly raised it in New York.

I welcome the Government’s efforts to secure humanitarian access to help the people of Syria, but what steps are being taken to protect the estimated 230,000 internal and external refugees fleeing the violence, especially in light of reports that the Syrian regime is laying mines along the routes to the borders with Lebanon and Turkey?

The hon. Lady rightly flags up the plight of those who have been forced to leave their homes, and not only the refugees who have fled across the border, but the internally displaced people. That is why some of our specific support goes to help 5,500 people who are in Syria and who have been forced to leave their homes.