Baroness Cox’s Question in the HoL on British Sanctions on Syria during COVID-19- 13/05/20

14 May 2020

Baroness Cox: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the humanitarian situation in Syria; and what steps they are taking to initiate the lifting of sanctions on that country.


The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Department for International Development (Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon) (Con): My Lords, after years of conflict, Covid-19 poses a particularly significant threat in Syria. The United Kingdom is working closely with the United Nations and partners to adapt our humanitarian response. We are also supporting the UN-led political process, which the Syrian regime must engage with seriously for sanctions to be lifted. EU sanctions, which we continue to apply during the transition period, are carefully targeted on specific sectors and individuals—[Inaudible].


Baroness Cox (CB): My Lords, I thank the Minister for that reply. Does he acknowledge that UK-backed sanctions make it impossible for many civilians to obtain food, medicines and life-saving medical equipment, causing widespread avoidable suffering and death, gravely exacerbated by coronavirus? As the UN’s special rapporteur emphasises, it is undisputed that sanctions do “contribute to a worsening of the humanitarian situation”. Will the Minister therefore agree to accept advice from UN experts, who emphasise that it is now “a matter of humanitarian and practical urgency to lift … economic sanctions immediately”?


To read the government’s replies, download the document below.

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