The Government held an urgent debate on Aleppo and only a handful of MPs turned up

'Anyone in Syria who sees images of those empty green leather benches will think British MPs have essentially given up on trying to help them,' says Amnesty International

May Bulman
Tuesday 13 December 2016 19:20
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Video shows difference in attendance between Labour and the Government in Aleppo debate

British MPs have been accused of taking a “distinct lack of action” over the crisis unfolding in Syria after just a handful attended an emergency debate on the matter.

Members of the public expressed anger after seats in the House of Commons appeared starkly empty during the debate over a motion on international action to protect civilians in eastern Aleppo and elsewhere in Syria.

During the debate, Twitter user Joshua Tindall, tweeted: “Just a handful of MPs at the emergency debate on Syria this afternoon”, while Charlotte Howells wrote: “The number of MPs attending the emergency Syria debate is shameful”.

Emily Munro said she was “saddened” by the low turnout, while Susan Russel responded by tweeting: “Shame on us”.

Louise Finan meanwhile said the debate showed a lack of action, tweeting: “Watching UK MPs hand-wringing about the lack of action for Syria during the Aleppo debate in which there is a distinct lack of action.”

In response to the small number of attendees, Amnesty International UK’s Syria Campaign Manager Kristyan Benedict told The Independent: “While Aleppo was rapidly being transformed into one mass grave today, it was shameful to see so many empty spaces during the Syria debate in the Commons.

“Why on earth wasn’t the Commons full to capacity with MPs desperate to see what can still be done to alleviate further suffering and save men, women and children in Aleppo?

“Anyone in Syria who sees images of those empty green leather benches will be entitled to think that large numbers of British MPs have essentially given up on trying to help them.”

During the debate, former Chancellor George Osborne said the Government is “deluding itself” if it does not take responsibility for the slaughter unfolding in the east of Aleppo, adding that he personally took responsibility for Britain’s failure to intervene to support rebels.

Meanwhile Emily Thornberry, the shadow Foreign Secretary, questioned whether the Government believed a “moderate rebellion” was still underway in Syria and whether it had a chance of success.

The emergency debate was called on Monday by the Speaker John Bercow after former development secretary Andrew Mitchell warned that eastern Aleppo “now resembles Stalingrad at the end of its destruction”.

The UN has warned that concerns for the safety of civilians in eastern Aleppo is more pressing than ever, as militia forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad were reported to have entered homes and killed at least 82 during their advance on rebel-held territory.

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