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Fiona – Let Charities Help Starving Syrians

Khalsa Aid, a relief and aid charity that started up in Slough is volunteering to donate £50,000 worth of food supplies for the starving people of Madaya in Syria, if the Royal Air Force can carry out the food drops. But they have been met with silence from the Ministry of Defence.

Slough MP Fiona Mactaggart raised the issue in the House of Commons directly with the Secretary of State for the Department for International Development:

Fiona Mactaggart (Slough) (Lab): We all know how many great voluntary aid organisations there are in the UK. One based in Slough that I particularly admire is Khalsa Aid, a Sikh-led organisation that provides aid to people—from the victims of flooding in the north of England to victims of situations like the one we are discussing. Ravi Singh, the founder and chief executive of Khalsa Aid, wrote to the Secretary of State for Defence some time ago requesting that the RAF agree to drop up to £50,000 of food aid that Khalsa Aid is sponsoring. He has yet to receive a reply. The Secretary of State for International Development has argued that RAF drops are not the most efficient way to deal with this, but I am absolutely certain that failing to respond to this kind of initiative is completely unacceptable and makes it less likely that great organisations such as Khalsa Aid will want to step up. What is she going to do about it? Will she speak to her colleague the Secretary of State for Defence?

Justine Greening: The hon. Lady makes her point very well today in the Chamber. I will follow it up with the Ministry of Defence. Indeed, the Minister for the Armed Forces, my hon. Friend the Member for Portsmouth North (Penny Mordaunt), who is here today, has said to me that she will follow it up. I pay tribute to the many faith-based charities that are playing a key role in working on the ground with local communities in what is an incredibly challenging situation. We will follow up the points that the hon. Lady has set out.

Fiona later commented, “Most of us have seen the horrific pictures of people dying of starvation in Syria. Yet Ravi Singh and his team have used that as a spur to action, only to be met by silence when they wanted to help. People in Madaya, which is so close to the border with Lebanon are desperate for food.  The UK Government should be doing all it can to help these desperate people and should collaborate with community based charities like Khalsa Aid. I am glad I was able to highlight their generous offer and I will press the Ministry of Defence to engage with them.  Khalsa Aid is not going away but a less successful and less determined charity might give up if they got no response.”