Baroness Cox Presses Government over Syria

20 October 2017

HART’s CEO Baroness Cox spoke in the House of Lords yesterday as part of a series of oral questions scrutinising the UK government’s actions in Syria. Below is Baroness Cox’s question and other highlights. 

Watch Baroness Cox’s oral question here.

Lord Green of Deddington:

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon on 20 September (HL1251), how much of the nearly £200 million provided to moderate opposition groups in Syria was for political support; and what was the nature of that assistance.

 The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon) (Con):

My Lords, of the £200 million spent in Syria since 2011, £14 million has been used to fund political support to the Syrian opposition. This funding has developed the operational capacity of the Syrian national coalition and the higher negotiations committee through diplomatic technical assistance, communications and advisory support, as well as media training.

Lord Naseby (Con)

My Lords, why do Her Majesty’s Government not recognise that Assad is not going anywhere and that the Syria that he holds is growing back almost to the boundaries it had before? Against that background, does my noble friend really think that British taxpayers want £14 million to be spent on supporting the so-called opposition? Surely it would have been better spent on fuel poverty.

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon) (Con):

My noble friend perhaps mixes two issues. I think that all these issues are of equal importance. We have just heard from him about the importance of addressing fuel poverty. Equally, I think I speak for many in this House when I say it is right that we stand up for the oppressed of Syria and support the opposition forces because it is they, not Bashar al-Assad, who hold the key to the future development of all communities in Syria, including all minority communities.

Baroness Caroline Cox speaking in parliament.

Baroness Cox:

My Lords, is the Minister aware that when I was in Syria I met representatives of civil society, including the Syrian doctors’ society in Aleppo, and there was great concern over the disastrous impact of sanctions which prevent the provision of essential medical supplies as well as food? Will Her Majesty’s Government change their priorities from providing massive financial support to opposition groups, which are not moderate, to making every effort to achieve the lifting of sanctions?


The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon) (Con):

The sanctions that the noble Baroness mentions apply specifically to the regime. Equally, she will be aware, as I am sure is the whole House, that we stand second in terms of the humanitarian assistance that we are providing to all groups: more than £700 million has been given to people in Syria on the humanitarian front and £800 million has been allocated elsewhere in neighbouring countries, while a further £1 billion remains to be allocated. Our commitment to assisting the humanitarian recovery in Syria is second only to one.

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