Alliance’s Stephen Farry has spoken in the Assembly about recent tragedies in Haiti and Aleppo.
Speaking during a Matter of the Day on the situation in Aleppo, Stephen Farry said: “At the outset, I also make reference to the humanitarian situation in Haiti due to Hurricane Matthew and recognise the hundreds of people who lost their lives there and the thousands who are now homeless.
“In some respects, we have a man-made hurricane affecting the people of Aleppo. Given our particular history and the fact that this year we are marking the 100th anniversary of a number of major incidents in the First World War, such as the battles of the Somme and Verdun, we know the consequences when a long-term stalemate builds up.
“The difference between those battles and the situation today is that so many civilians are bearing the brunt of the conflict; they are suffering daily, losing their lives, their homes, their livelihoods and their future.
“Aleppo is one of the oldest inhabited settlements in the world, and what is happening there is a tragedy in so many respects. It also reflects the much wider situation in Syria. As an Assembly, it is important that we speak out on what is happening beyond our borders. What is happening today in Syria is, I think, the defining conflict of our age. We should be defined by how we, as the international community, respond to that situation. It is important that we see humanitarian assistance and that we join in recognising the aid workers who risk their lives to bring assistance, and in particular the role played by the white helmets in trying to save and rescue lives.
“We also have to recognise that it is not just about humanitarian aid and that we have wider responsibilities as an international community. It is not good enough to see the great powers intervening on different sides of the conflict and it becoming a kind of proxy war. Russia in particular stands out for international condemnation for its activities, namely the military support that it provides to the regime and its bolstering and protecting of Bashar al-Assad. Frankly, if that support was withdrawn there may be some hope of a solution.
“I fear that, at present, we are seeing a rolling stalemate centred around the city of Aleppo, and that is likely to continue unless we see a change in tack from the international community. What is needed is a genuinely united front and a recognition that the international community has a formal responsibility to protect, and to recognise that what happens within national borders is something that concerns us all.”