Bombing Syria will have 'catastrophic effects'
on 29/08/2013 15:27:44
The escalation of military action will cause more civilian deaths and may threaten vital relief efforts, Christian Aid said.
It calls for a peaceful resolution to the conflict as the Government published legal advice supporting a "targeted" strike on humanitarian grounds.
The announcement came shortly before the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) issued a warning to all sides that further escalation would worsen the refugee crisis and trigger more displacement of people.
Janet Symes of Christian Aid said: "We believe that a political solution is the only way to achieve lasting peace for the Syrian people. We urge the UK Government and the international community to work through the UN to bring all parties to the table at the Syria peace talks in Geneva and negotiate a peaceful resolution.
"If an air strike is announced, the number of people fleeing Syria will increase dramatically, with catastrophic effects on the already desperate humanitarian situation in neighbouring countries such as Lebanon and Iraq.
"An escalation in military engagement within Syria will worsen an already-precarious humanitarian situation, leading to more civilian casualties and further destruction of infrastructure. It has the potential to jeopardise humanitarian access without bringing an end to the conflict any closer."
Estimates suggest that at least 100,000 people have been killed since the Syrian uprising began in March 2011.
Almost two million people are believed to have fled to Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq and Turkey, and human rights groups believe that number may rise above three million by the end of the year.
More than eight million people are now in urgent need of help, Christian Aid said.
Magne Barth, head of the ICRC's delegation in Syria, said civilian suffering has reached unprecedented levels.
"There appears to be no end in sight," he said.
"Further escalation will likely trigger more displacement and add to humanitarian needs which are already immense. There are acute shortages of vital medical supplies, food and water in a number of areas that have been sealed off for months and to which the ICRC and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent have not been given access.
"In large parts of rural Damascus for example, people are dying because they lack medical supplies and because there are not enough medical personnel to attend to them. They also go hungry because aid can't get through to them on a regular basis."
The ICRC has called on all parties in Syria to respect an absolute prohibition on the use of chemical weapons.