While politicians bickered in the wake of Thursday’s vote, one of the few British citizens with first-hand experience of the horrors of Syria’s civil war made a heartfelt plea for Ed Miliband to see the suffering of civilians for himself.
Speaking on BBC Newsnight on Friday evening, a British doctor, who identified herself as Dr Rola, criticised the Labour leader for his part in Parliament’s decision to block British military intervention in Syria.
Asked whether Mr Miliband had “got it wrong” she said: “I’d like to invite Ed Miliband and his family on a seven day holiday in Syria, on my expense. This is a serious offer. I’d like him to spend a day in one of the civilian areas under constant shelling, watching the warplanes above us throw all sorts of weapons onto civilians and fear for the safety of his family. Spend just one day and one night in a tent in one of the camps where the homeless now live and drink sewage water and try his luck with typhoid fever and no medication.”
Dr Rola, who works at a hospital in London but has been deployed to Syria on several occasions with the charity Hand in Hand for Syria, said the world had “failed” the Syrian people.
“From our point of view, from the medical and humanitarian point of view, we have watched innocent men, women and children being slaughtered by the regime for the last two and a half years…now is the time to act.”
A senior Labour source told The Independent on Sunday that Mr Miliband had not yet seen the Newsnight clip, but added that he was “fully aware of the suffering and like everyone else, is appalled by the suffering.”
“If you have a rushed, ill-thought through military conflict, it makes the suffering of the Syrian people worse, not better,” the source said.
A spokesperson for Hand in Hand for Syria, which supplies aid and medical support to civilians in Syria, said that the charity did not have a position on whether military action was justified, but called on Western governments to assert “diplomatic pressure [to] not only increase the amount of aid we’re sending, but also increase access for aid agencies.”