UK lawmakers: Preventing atrocities in Idlib 'urgent'

By Ahmet Gurhan Kartal

LONDON (AA) – The action "to prevent mass atrocities" in Syria’s Idlib is an urgent matter as the situation is "reaching crisis point", British parliament’s Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Tom Tugendhat said Monday.

Tugendhat said the U.K. government must do more to "protect civilians as part of its responsibility to protect".

Tugendhat’s comments came with the release of the committee’s report "Global Britain: The Responsibility to Protect and Humanitarian Intervention", which was published on Monday following its inquiry into the legal basis for military interventions under these concepts and their effectiveness in protecting civilians, with a focus on Syria.

"The consequences of inaction can be devastating. The people of Syria show clearly that choosing not to act, standing aside, can have consequences every bit as real and horrific as the decision to act," he said.

The report by the cross-party committee said a "proportionate and necessary force" should be used "to alleviate extreme human distress", in conflicts where there is human suffering.

The report said, "the absence of humanitarian intervention as a final recourse can result in grave consequences for civilian populations."

"During this inquiry, we heard from those who have the first-hand experience of what life is like in Syria right now and the impact the conflict there has had on people," Tugendhat said.

"The Government must do more to protect civilians as part of its responsibility to protect.

"With the situation in Idlib reaching crisis point, action to prevent mass atrocities is ever more urgent."

The committee chairman said prevention is always better than a later response. "As the situation in Syria has shown us, waiting to respond can have devastating consequences," he said.

Tugendhat said the atrocity prevention must be prioritized in political and diplomatic conversations.

"Now, more than ever, the Government needs to produce a comprehensive atrocity prevention strategy and implementation plan," he urged.

"The cost of inaction has been unacceptably high," he added.

The committee’s report said the U.K. "must bear its share of the responsibility" for the atrocity crimes committed in Syria and "examine the repercussions of its decisions not to do more on its own or collectively".

It also urged for an "independent inquiry" into the decision-making processes so lessons should be learned "to prevent similar humanitarian crises happening in the future and offer a more effective response".