August 30th, 2013
Baroness Cox Joins the Debate on Syria
The British Parliament was recalled yesterday for an urgent discussion on the possibility of a military response to developments in Syria. Baroness Cox joined the debate, arguing that a military intervention could unleash even more suffering for the Syrian people. Baroness Cox brought attention to the huge humanitarian needs for those displaced during the conflict and to the plight of Syria’s Christians.
“In Syria, as other noble Lords have reminded your Lordships, nearly 100,000 people have been killed since the beginning of conflict in March 2011, many of them women and children, with 5,000 deaths every month. There are 6.8 million people in need of assistance, including 4.25 million internally displaced—a figure that has doubled since the beginning of 2013. Beyond the immediate humanitarian crisis, the long-term repercussions of the conflict are huge, with an estimated economic cost of more than $48 billion, which is more than 80% of GDP.
One-third of all homes—1.2 million houses—have been damaged or destroyed. Livelihoods have been ruined, healthcare, education systems and the economy have collapsed, and food is scarce. The civil and social fabric is in ruins. Recovery and reconciliation will be deeply challenging. Reconstruction costs will be huge. As has been pointed out by other noble Lords, there are also regional implications for Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Iraq and north Africa, as 1.9 million refugees have fled to neighbouring countries, exacerbating economic, political and sectarian tensions, particularly in Lebanon and Jordan, which bear the brunt of the huge refugee crises. An international military response will increase spillover of the humanitarian crisis. Official Lebanese government figures for 27 August reported 4,000 refugees fleeing across the border in one day.
CAFOD’s partners both inside Syria and across the region are clear that the only lasting solution is a political settlement through dialogue and diplomacy. Father Simon Faddoul, president of Caritas Lebanon, has emphasised that a potential military response,
“exposes thousands of people to more dangers. Further wars have never been the answer; political might and influence however have given better and more peaceful results. We pray that peace will reign”
…I therefore share the profound concerns about a military intervention that could unleash even more suffering. Bringing the perpetrators of crimes against humanity to justice must be the priority, not supporting, either directly or indirectly, militias that are also committing heinous and egregious violations of human rights. Adding to the number of hapless refugees and escalating the conflict seems to be neither rational nor productive. It will simply add to the totality of human misery, and certainly the first to suffer will be the minorities in Syria.
The full text can be found here: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld201314/ldhansrd/text/130829-0001.htm#13082920000033
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