UK Gives Another £5 Million to Syrian Opposition
William Hague, the Foreign Secretary of Great Britain, confirmed last week that the UK government is giving an extra £5 million ( $7.8 million) worth of aid to opposition groups to help in their fight against the oppressive Assad regime. The Syrian conflict has been waging for some seventeen months now, and so far an estimated 20,000 people have lost their lives, although figures are hard to verify. The UN / Kofi Annan brokered peace deal proved as ineffectual as the condemnation from the international community, and what started as a small scale uprising has degenerated into full scale civil war.
This extra money, announced on Friday, will be used for various ‘non lethal’ items, including body armour, radio and satellite telephonic communication systems, support services and first aid equipment, to be used by NGO’s, human rights monitoring groups and other opposition organizations. That said, the UK government was at pains to stress that the new funds will not be used for any weapons or equipment of a lethal nature, saying "It would be hard to guarantee how [they] would be used. There have been reports of atrocities on the opposition side in Syria, which we condemn just as we condemn atrocities, the many atrocities carried out by the regime."
This new raft of UK money comes in addition to the £27.5 million ( $43.1 million) already given to various Syrian opposition groups designated for humanitarian aid. It also marks a distinct switch in focus and direction away from the fractious Syrian National Council and the Free Syrian Army, “We always knew it would be important to engage with the local opposition. When we get to the end of the day, we know it won't just be the SNC sitting around the table. It will be people doing the legwork on the ground." A UK official advised.
William Hague said in during the press conference it was ‘the right thing to do’ that the money will save lives, "The people of Syria cannot wait indefinitely ... The Syrian people need urgent help, and today we are greatly increasing what we will do to support them." Many also view this stance as a clear indication to Russia and China, who have both blocked further UN intervention, that time does not stand still and that something must change before the next scheduled UN Security Council meeting at the end of the month.