UK minister slams ‘callous’ Assad regime

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Alistair Burt

Innocent Syrian people are in desperate conditions as regime uses food as weapon, Alistair Burt says.

Millions of Syrians are in desperate conditions as “food is still being used as a weapon of war by the callous Asad regime”, a British minister said Thursday.

Speaking at the launch of a report, which looks into welfare of Syrians under the civil war, Middle East Minister Alistair Burt said: “As the brutal conflict enters its eighth year, this important report lays bare the horrific reality of daily life in Syria.

“With food still being used as a weapon of war by the callous Asad regime, families are driven to desperate measures to survive and their bravery and resilience are clear.”

The report ‘The Wages of War’ by Mercy Corps, a global aid organization, said: “Military attacks continue to affect millions of innocent men, women and children still living in Syria.”

“They typically experience serious violence – which would result in death, injury or destruction of property – twice a week,” it added.

Burt called out the Assad regime for using food as a weapon of war and announced an emergency U.K. aid package to provide safe water to 575,000 people in Idlib, where violence against innocent Syrians has intensified in recent weeks.

“Nine in 10 people live in daily fear for their own safety and the safety of their families,” according to the report.

Burt said millions of innocent Syrian men, women and children rely on U.K. aid and “they need our help now more than ever”.

Pointing out that “aid alone is not enough” Burt said: “All parties must stop the bloody violence, protect civilians, respect international law and allow immediate and unhindered access for much needed aid convoys to get to those in need.”

“Whilst the international community works towards a political solution to the conflict, which is in all our interests, emergency aid is the only way to alleviate the crisis inside Syria,” Burt said.

The research by Mercy Corps shows “two in three households still don’t know where their next meal is coming from, underlining the importance of getting immediate and unfettered aid access to stop people starving”.

Syria has been locked in a devastating civil war since March 2011 when the Assad regime cracked down on pro-democracy protests with unexpected ferocity.

Since the start of the conflict, as many as 11 million people have fled their homes and 6 million of those still live inside Syria. Millions of people took refuge in neighboring countries, Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan.

UN officials say hundreds of thousands of people have been killed in the conflict.

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