By Bridget Phillipson MP
We have all watched in horror at the recent events in Syria. The images are harrowing and the UN has confirmed that chemical weapons attacks took place. This is a war crime and a clear breach of international law. For the past two and a half years, the conflict in Syria has escalated and in recent weeks politicians around the world have been debating what more can be done. I believe that we must ensure that any action is proportionate and makes the situation better, not worse. But the international community must not stand idly by while children are murdered in their beds.
Parliament expressed concerns about the government’s case for taking military action and the Prime Minister categorically ruled out a second vote on military intervention. Whilst this means that the UK will not be playing a military role, this does not mean we cannot use all other means at our disposal to help those suffering.
The Syrian refugee crisis is one of the worst seen in recent years, with over two million people forced from their homes. The number grows daily. Neighbouring countries have undoubtedly saved lives in taking in refugees but they are facing a considerable challenge. Greater international support is still needed. Many refugees arrive with little more than the clothes on their back, sick and starving after a hard and dangerous journey. It's right that we do all we can to reduce the risk of the civil war becoming a regional conflict, but we must never lose sight of those displaced families who face an uncertain future.
This article was originally published in the Sunderland Echo on 18th September 2013