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War in Syria

Airstrikes won’t end Syrians’ suffering: what the UK must do next

Words of outrage over this week’s chemical weapons attack in Eastern Ghouta, Syria must evolve into action—diplomatic action to protect innocent civilians and bring about a lasting and long overdue peace. 

After launching airstrikes on Syrian military targets, the US, UK and France now bear greater responsibility for ending the suffering of Syrians, the International Rescue Committee said in a statement

“The world’s attention must not be allowed to waver,” said IRC president David Miliband.

Here are three things the UK can and must do now to help Syrians whose lives have been shattered by six years of war: 

1. End the war in Syria

Prime Minister May and other world leaders must turn their attention to stopping further loss of life—and the only way to protect Syrians from conflict is to end the conflict.

Now that the UK has chosen to deploy military force, in conjunction with its allies, it has a duty to redouble diplomatic efforts toward establishing a credible path towards peace. 

Many families in Eastern Ghouta moved underground into cellars and bunkers, to try to stay safe during months of bombardment.

Photo: Abdullah Hammam/IRC

2. Support refugee resettlement

The UK has committed to taking 23,000 people affected by the Syrian conflict over five years, but we have the capacity to do more. The IRC is calling on the UK to take in 108,000 vulnerable refugees over the next five years, equivalent to just 24 people each year in each parliamentary constituency.

This would reaffirm that Britain is a compassionate nation willing to extend a lifeline to people fleeing war and persecution - it is not good enough to try to shift all responsibility onto the countries that neighbour Syria.

3. Reaffirm commitments to humanitarian assistance 

The international fury over the horrific loss of life in Idlib is welcome, but we urge the UK to show continued support for humanitarian assistance.

The UK must show that it stands ready to support host communities to continue to provide safe haven for Syrian refugees for as long as is needed and until the war is over. The Syria conference in Brussels starting on 24th April is an opportunity for the UK, and others, to commit to delivering on the commitments made under the so-called ‘Compacts’ with Jordan and Lebanon, ensuring legal frameworks allow access to jobs and that opportunities are created, thus strengthening the skills and abilities of the very population who represent the future of Syria.

How you can help

The IRC is providing critical support to families in Idlib, throughout war-torn Syria and in crisis zones around the world. Donate now.