Dr Charles Tannock

Member of the European Parliament for London

Syria, with specific reference to the humanitarian situation

Delivered in Plenary - 13th March 2013

Mr President

Each time we debate Syria the situation appears more desperate. Both sides are determined that they can win this war and seem content to entrench themselves in a battle of attrition regardless of the human cost. Assad, in particular, has reached the stage where he is prepared to reduce his once great country to a wasteland of rubble and blood, all for the purposes of retaining power and escaping justice – a megalomaniac’s Pyrrhic victory.

It is all too easy to become desensitised, but we must continue to reinforce the scale of this barbarity: a staggering 70 000 civilians killed, and a million or more displaced people causing a full-blown refugee crisis which has the potential to destabilise the region, in particular Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq. The Lebanese Government, in particular, has taken a laissez-faire attitude which has exposed traumatised refugees to even more suffering. As with so many crises of this kind, women and children have suffered the most. Indeed one crucially under-reported feature of this war is the prevalence of rape as a weapon of terror. We also saw the ‘Save the Children’ report today which described children being used as informants and even as human shields.

It is hard to know how much worse the situation could become before Moscow feels compelled to do something to help or the Free Syrian Army can become armed and prevent arms going to the Salafists from the West, but in the meantime we must deploy every resource at our disposal to galvanise the international community and end this disaster.