Air strikes on Syria could have “catastrophic effects” on the desperate humanitarian crisis in the region, a charity has warned.
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. 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.
“An escalation in military engagement within Syria will worsen an already precarious humanitarian situation.”
Estimates suggest that at least 100,000 people have been killed since the Syrian uprising began in 2011. Almost two million people are believed to have fled to Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq and Turkey.
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. “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.”