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Southern: Fares

Question for Department for International Development

UIN HL207, tabled on 23 May 2016

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what information they have about Palestinian refugees besieged by Government forces in Khan Eshieh near Damascus; and in particular, whether they intend to take action to press for a ceasefire to allow the evacuation of non-combatants, including women and children.

Answered on

3 June 2016

The UK is extremely concerned about the volatile situation in southern Damascus in recent weeks. We strongly condemn the indiscriminate attacks in the Khan Eshieh camp on 17 May 2016, killing five Palestinian refugees and a Syrian. We are particularly concerned by reports that the Khan Eshieh area has been placed under siege, blocking essential supplies from entering and risking the lives of thousands of civilians. We continue to call on all sides of the conflict, and their supporters, to respect and ensure respect for International Humanitarian Law and protect civilians.

The UK will consider any option compliant with international law that might saves lives in Syria. We do not think it would be feasible to broker a local ceasefire in Khan Eshieh, given the parties involved in the fighting there. However, though the International Syria Support Group (ISSG), we will continue to support the fulfilment of the cessation of hostilities and full humanitarian access.

The UK has given support to the UN and international NGOs since the start of the conflict to deliver aid to besieged and hard to reach areas. We will continue to use our position in the UN Security Council to push for humanitarian access across Syria. As a core member of the International Syria Support Group we agreed with other members of 11 February that humanitarian access should be opened to a number of priority areas as a first step to accelerating full and sustained access across Syria. Since then, UNRWA has delivered at least 25 convoys with multi-sectoral assistance to southern Damascus.