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Volume 615: debated on Monday 10 October 2016

Application for emergency debate (Standing Order No. 24)

I seek leave to propose that the House should debate a specific and important matter that should have urgent consideration, namely the unfolding humanitarian catastrophe in Aleppo and more widely across Syria.

Since the House last met, the humanitarian position in Aleppo and across Syria has deteriorated significantly, but the international community has not been successful in exercising its duties to protect innocent civilians—duties clearly identified and understood throughout the United Nations and in our responsibility to protect. On 19 September, a United Nations relief convoy was destroyed in the early evening. Thirty-one trucks loaded with food and medicines were attacked from the air. Warehouses and clinics were severely damaged and 18 humanitarian workers were killed. This is undoubtedly a war crime and it was undoubtedly perpetrated by Russian forces. In the last three days, 100 war wounded have been attended to in Aleppo. There have been 12 bombing runs and many people, including children, seriously injured, and at lunchtime today in Aleppo at least five people died as a result of a Government rocket attack.

When it comes to incendiary weapons and munitions such as bunker buster bombs and cluster bombs, the UN makes it clear that the systematic use of such indiscriminate weapons in densely populated areas amounts to a war crime. We are witnessing events that match the behaviour of the Nazi regime in Guernica in Spain. Russia is shredding the international rules-based system of law, destroying the United Nations and its ability to act in the same way that the Germans and the Italians destroyed the League of Nations in the 1930s.

I ask, Mr Speaker, that you allow urgent consideration by this House of what more the Government could be doing to protect the mass of humanity that is suffering in and around Syria today, how we can do more to support the International Syria Support Group, what more can be done to secure access and safety for humanitarian workers, what further steps we can take with our allies to support future cessation of hostilities and how, working with our allies in the United Nations, Europe and NATO, we can discharge our responsibility to protect.

I have listened carefully to the application from the right hon. Gentleman and I am satisfied that the matter raised by him is proper to be discussed under Standing Order No. 24. Does the right hon. Gentleman have the leave of the House?

Application agreed to.

The right hon. Gentleman has obtained the leave of the House. The debate will be held tomorrow, Tuesday 11 October, as the first item of public business. The debate will last for three hours and will arise on a motion that the House has considered the specified matter set out in the right hon. Gentleman’s application.

Members leaving the Chamber after these substantial exchanges should do so quickly and quietly. There is a point of order on its way and I wish to hear it.