As everyone in Qatar knows, Syria is suffering one of the longest and bloodiest wars in recent history.
The cruel and abhorrent attacks by the Assad regime and its backers have created devastation and distress on an unimaginable scale.
Innocent men, women and children have suffered horrifically at the mercy of chemical weapons, which were outlawed a century ago.
We are all disgusted by the deliberate targeting of schools and hospitals, and restrictions placed on getting food and medical supplies into the country in a blatant breach of international law.
These are the sick practices of an inhuman regime for whom victory comes at any price. We cannot do nothing. We have a responsibility to act. That is why the UK is at the forefront of the humanitarian response in the region. We are providing lifesaving support to millions of people in desperate need both inside Syria and to those who have fled to neighbouring countries.
UK support is helping families and children who left everything behind as they ran for their lives in the face of shelling, chemical weapons and starvation. We know that Qatar is similarly active and warmly welcome this support.
Aid workers, many of them Syrians themselves, face horrific, incredibly difficult conditions on a daily basis as they try to save lives. Their efforts are heroic.
This month’s targeted airstrikes by the UK, US and France have reduced the Assad regime’s ability to carry out such attacks again.
The UK is clear that we must defend the global rules based system that keeps all of us safe. Our actions have been welcomed with broad support from the international community. We thank the Qatari government for its statement of support. This international support is a sign that the world will not allow violations of international law to go unchallenged.
When British ministers travel to Brussels for the humanitarian conference today, they will call for all parties to the conflict to pursue a political settlement that brings peace to Syria. This is the only way we can end the suffering.
If the Assad regime and the governments of Russia and Iran continue to delay this process, more people will die and more misery and destruction will be inflicted on Syria.
They will also reaffirm the UK government’s commitment to do all it can to protect civilians and those brave humanitarian workers risking their lives every day to help them.
Since 2012, across Syria and the region, we have provided more than 27mn food rations, 12mn health consultations, 10mn relief packages and 10mn vaccinations so that people don’t fall victim to deadly diseases.
We supported 175 medical facilities in Syria and helped train 125 health workers to prepare for and respond to future possible attacks last year.
We’re also helping aid workers adapt to the new reality of war. Working with US government, we have set up a new fund to find new technology and innovations to save lives in conflict zones.
Just last month it was reported that medical staff in Syria’s Eastern Ghouta were targeted after a suspected computer hack had revealed the co-ordinates of a hospital. Our new fund could find ways to stop this happening in future.
The reality now is that aid isn’t just about handing out food, water and bandages. We need to outsmart a regime that obstructs aid workers and kills its own civilians without remorse.
Our support for Syrian civilians, and for refugees sheltering in neighbouring countries, is helping to create stability and security in the Middle East.
We will continue to work with our partners in Qatar to achieve this goal.
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