The Syrian British Council reminds the Home Secretary that NGOs and dual British-Syrian nationals with relatives still residing in parts of Syria, may be affected by the Designated Area Offence legislation.
Whilst we acknowledge allowances provided to NGO and humanitarian workers operating in areas likely to be designated dangerous as part of this law, we urge the Home Secretary to maintain the utmost care in ensuring this legislation does not undermine humanitarian emergency efforts. British and dual Syrian-UK nationals must not be discouraged from continuing emergency humanitarian work as part of NGOs throughout Syria. The Humanitarian work carried out by NGO workers plays a key role in preventing the spread of radicalisation among the most vulnerable people who often reside in some of the most dangerous areas.
Whilst humanitarian workers are granted travel to these areas under the Designated Area Offence, the law as it stands seems to place the burden on them to prove their legal right to do so. This, we fear, will discourage many from continuing their humanitarian efforts, leading to an exacerbation of an already destabilising humanitarian crisis, and will leave a void that risks being exploited by extremists. The Designated Area Offence must not be allowed to create a chilling effect to those currently in the NGO and humanitarian sector.
We request the Home Secretary to address these concerns.