Concern over gender-based violence in Syria

The Bishop of Exeter has urged the Government to do everything it can to support victims of sexual and gender-based violence in the Syrian conflict.

The Right Reverend Michael Langrish said there was a need to ensure that such abuses are properly documented so that the perpetrators can be brought to justice in the future.

The bishop made the call during a debate in the House of Lords on Wednesday, in which he said the growing number of refugees reflected the "protracted brutality" of the ongoing conflict.

Responding to his call, Baroness Northover said that sexual violence was "widespread and systematic" in the conflict.

"We hear reports of sexual abuse and domestic violence, and also of young girls being forced into early marriage among the refugees. Therefore we are extremely concerned," she said.

The UK Government is currently providing clinical care and counselling for 12,000 Syrian refugees in Jordan who have experienced sexual violence.

"It has struck me that this is better documented than may have been the case in the past but we still have a long way to go in terms of recognising the significance of this," she added.

Bishop Langrish welcomed the Government's "generous and strategic" humanitarian provision.