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Well, I’ve had personally the privilege of witnessing the poverty, the trauma, the displacement due to suffered by local communities in Damascus, Sydnaya, Latakia, Homs and at last of Aleppo, visited several times. And I continue to seek to raise the suffering of the people in parliament. Just as a reminder, over nine million Syrians are food insecure at the moment, and an estimated nine out of 10 live below the poverty line and million Syrians in parliament and the suffering of the people.
And in January this year, I sent a letter to the British prime minister, Boris Johnson, to urge the lifting of economic sanctions against Syria. The letter was signed by 80 other people, including many colleagues in the House of Lords, two former British ambassador to Syria, one of them, my friend Peter Ford, and other people from different arenas, George Tenet, the former chief of general staff of the British Army, north west of spitted former first sea lord and chief of naval staff.
And someone you heard earlier, of course, the right Reverend Dr Ted Williams, the former archbishop of Canterbury and many other people. It was also signed by international diplomats, human rights experts and some of the most senior church leaders in the Middle East. They briefly on this is the prime minister for the call to the United Nations, special rapporteur on unilateral coercive measures. And they don’t do it. Who appealed at the end of December, the United States, to lift its complex web of economic sanctions that severely harm the people of Syria.
Sanctions that have not been approved by the UN Security Council. The special rapporteur stated that US sanctions, I quote, violate the human rights of Syrian people and also could exacerbate the already humanitarian situation in Syria, especially in the case of Covid-19 pandemic, end of quote. They suffer what they call suffering by blocking the aid, trade and investment necessary, the serious health system and economy to function. The special rapporteurs findings reflect a growing consensus within humanitarian aid and human rights communities that the sanctions are driving Syria into an unprecedented humanitarian catastrophe.