In the four and a half years of the Syrian conflict, almost 200,000 civilians have been killed. Ninety-six percent of these are thought to have been killed by the Syrian Government.
Political discussions about how to approach Syria in the UK has been distracted by rumours of a potential parliamentary debate on extending airstrikes against ISIL into Syria. This week, the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Select Committee published the findings of their inquiry into this proposal. The report found that the UK Government needed to address a number of crucial issues, including identifying an overall strategy for tackling the situation in Syria, beyond just targeting ISIL.
The UK, along with all member states at the United Nations, has acknowledged that it has a responsibility to protect civilians when governments are clearly failing to protect their populations from the gravest crimes - crimes against humanity, ethnic cleansing, war crimes and genocide.
In Syria, this threshold has long been met; the Assad Government is committing war crimes and crimes against humanity, purposefully targeting its own civilian population. ISIL is suspected of committing genocide and crimes against humanity.
UNA-UK has joined forces with Protection Approaches to produce a briefing for parliamentarians on civilian protection in Syria.
Brokering peace and finding a peaceful solution in Syria will not be easy. The complexity of the sitautuion does not mean, however, that doing nothing is the right thing to do. With the difficult issue of extending airstrikes off the table, UNA-UK wants to see informed and proactive debate in parliament on how the UK can strengthen its commitment to protecting the Syrian people and upholding our responsibility to protect the lives of strangers.
Photo credit: UNPhoto/David Manyua