‘Don’t leave British children trapped in Syria’ projected onto Houses of Parliament

 

Save the Children, 4th November 2019

Save the Children says unless more progress is made today, more innocent British children may die in North East Syria

Campaigners have projected ‘Don’t leave British children trapped in Syria’ onto the Houses of Parliament the evening before parliament dissolves for the election campaign.

Save the Children said that unless Government says today that it will rescue more than 60 British children stranded in North East Syria and bring them to the UK, more of them may die.

Alison Griffin, Save the Children’s Head of Conflict and Humanitarian Campaigns, said:

“Today is the last chance for a statement of intent. Without one, more innocent British children could die. Already dire conditions in the camps are deteriorating and Syria’s bitter winter with its sub-zero temperatures is just around the corner.

“What happens behind the scenes is set by Government’s level of commitment in public. And at the moment this does not look like a priority. The Foreign Secretary must use the final day of Parliament to state categorically that he will use every tool at his disposal to bring these children home. Children’s lives cannot be risked for months in dangerous, freezing limbo while the election unfolds.

“All children caught up in this horrifying war deserve to be safe and recover. But for the British children among them, today is Boris Johnson’s best chance to stop more needless deaths and to grant them that opportunity. He must use it.”

The powerful message was projected to a size of around 50m2 on the river side of the Houses of Parliament in order to tell Government this is a critical opportunity to act.

To date, at least 390 children have died from malnutrition or untreated infected wounds at Al Hol camp in North East Syria, where the majority of foreign women and children who were formerly in ISIS-held areas are staying in an annex. Syria’s harsh winters regularly see sub-zero temperatures and snowfall is common. The risk of deadly diseases like pneumonia will increase with the cold and damp.

The UN has reported that the recent instability has started to hit vital services across Al Hol camp. Nearly half of mobile health teams have stopped running. And severely malnourished children with complications who are in life-threatening conditions now have to be transferred to Hasakeh city for treatment after the suspension of a therapeutic feeding programme. There aren’t enough ambulances to do this and the foreign annex is reporting the highest number of malnourished children.

Foreign Office questions today represent the last chance for MPs to publicly interrogate Government policy on this issue before Parliament dissolves for the election. Previously MPs from all parties have spoken in support of repatriation and the Government have since acknowledged they have a duty of care to the British children in North East Syria.

Notes to editors

· More than 12,000 people have joined Save the Children in calling on the UK Government to bring all British children trapped in North East Syria home to recover in safety. Join the campaign.

· Donate to Save the Children’s Syria crisis appeal.

 

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