We need to take in more Syrian refugees amid the “greatest crime of the century” – Alison McGovern inspired by Jo Cox

12th October, 2016 3:41 pm


Labour MP Alison McGovern has paid a moving tribute to Jo Cox during a House of Commons debate on the war in Syria.

McGovern said in the chamber that she was “taking up the role of my friend Jo Cox”, who had been chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Friends of Syria, and was a vocal advocate of the UK taking in more refugees feeling the conflict. “She would have said that we should help refugees fleeing Syria; not just 20,000 by 2020, but many more much more quickly,” McGovern told MPs.

You can watch an extract from McGovern’s speech below.

Cox, who spent a decade working as an aid worker in war-torn countries, was a prominent voice in last year’s debate around whether to extend RAF airstrikes on ISIS into Syria, and raised concerns that Labour had been “too often been mute” on the issue of the Syrian Civil War. Writing for LabourList last October, Cox wrote: “I believe the Labour Party can still help to reframe this debate. To advocate for a comprehensive strategy built on three strands; humanitarian, diplomatic and military, with the protection of civilians as its central objective.”

Speaking yesterday,  McGovern said: “I am taking up the role of my friend Jo Cox. She would have been here and she would have known what was needed. And most of all I think she would have said that we should help refugees fleeing Syria: not just 20,000 by 2020, but many more much more quickly.

“Lastly Mr Speaker, on London’s South Bank there is a memorial dedicated to the International Brigades, those who fought for democracy in the Spanish Civil War. On the side there is an inscription that reads: ‘They went because their open eyes could see no other way.’

“In Syria today, the world is confronted by the unspeakable evil and unimaginable suffering. Some of us might have hoped that the advent of social media and new means of technology might have opened eyes more even so than in the 1930s. But the pictures we see make us want to close our eyes, to turn away from the horror.

“But we cannot unsee what we have seen. We must not turn our backs on the greatest crime of the century.”

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