UK gives 5 mn pounds non-lethal aid to Syria rebels

Britain will give Syrian rebels five million pounds worth of non-lethal practical assistance to fight the forces of Bashar al-Assad.

Updated: Aug 10, 2012, 19:57 PM IST

London: Britain will give Syrian rebels five million pounds worth of non-lethal practical assistance, including communication equipment and body armour, to fight the rampaging forces of Bashar al-Assad.

Foreign secretary William Hague said that Secretary for International Development Andrew Mitchell has announced the quadrupling of British aid for Syrian refugees, and added that Britain was also helping to feed 80,000 Syrians displaced internally per month.

"So now, in the absence of diplomatic progress, the United Kingdom will do much more. We will expand our support to the Syrian people and the Syrian political opposition, with an extra 5 million pounds in non-lethal practical assistance," Hague said.

"This will help protect unarmed opposition groups, human rights activists and civilians from some of the worst of the violence. This is in addition to and separate from our humanitarian assistance," Hague added.

Hague said the Syrian people needed urgent help, and noted that Britain had already trained 60 Syrian activists to document human rights violations and abuses and had provided support for 100 Syrian citizen journalists.

"The people of Syria cannot wait indefinitely. People are dying and are often trapped without food and shelter. They are at the mercy of a regime that is hunting down its opponents, an army that has turned its weapons against civilians, and militias that are committing barbaric crimes," he said.

Britain`s assistance to Syrian rebels will include trauma and medical supplies for civilians in areas under regime control, and could include items such as paramedic trauma kits, specialist trauma treatment for surgical equipment, field dressings, antibiotics, painkillers, and water purification kits to respond to the cutting of fresh water supplies.

"I have agreed in principle that our assistance to the opposition will include communications equipment...I have also agreed in principle that our assistance should include life saving protective equipment for civilians to help those carrying out vital work in the crossfire and this could for instance include body armour", Hague said.