UPDATE: Denmark sending 100 million kroner in aid to Syria
UPDATE, 14:22: Denmark will send 100 million kroner of additional humanitarian aid to Syria, Jyllands-Posten newspaper reports.
"The humanitarian situation in Syria is deeply alarming," the prime minister, Helle Thorning-Schmidt (Socialdemokraterne), said in a written statement to the newspaper. "This is a humanitarian catastrophe that we need to react to. The deployment of chemical weapons intensifies the catastrophe."
A spokesperson from the PM's office told Jyllands-Posten that Denmark is continuing to work towards "a political solution" in Syria, perhaps casting doubt on the PM's commitment to acting military as she suggested earlier in the week. That seemed to be backed up by Dansk Folkeparti's Søren Espersen, who said that following the British parliament's vote against military action, it looked less likely that Denmark would move ahead with military plans.
"The UK means everything," Esperson told Jyllands-Posten. "We have been so close with them in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya that I can't imagine that Denmark would participate in a military action if the UK wasn't involved."
ORIGINAL, 11:51: Syrian refugees can look forward to more Danish aid as the Development Ministry prepares for a considerable increase in humanitarian aid to the war-torn country.
The development minister, Christian Friis Bach (Radikale), said that the aid will go to the estimated two million refugees who have fled Syria as well as those within the country who need humanitarian aid and the over four million who have fled their homes but remain in Syria.
“We are preparing a solid humanitarian contribution in response to the very serious humanitarian situation that has left up to seven million people in dire need of help,” Bach told DR Nyheder.
According to reports, more than 50,000 Syrians have fled to Iraq in the last two weeks alone as the apparent use of chemical weapons has intensified the conflict and paved the way for possible intervention from the US and its allies. Some 200,000 Syrians have sought refugee in the Kurdistan region of Iraq. Hundreds of thousands of refugees have also headed for Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and Egypt.
Bach’s aid pledge comes in connection with a meeting of parliament's Foreign Policy Committee which convened to discuss Denmark’s stance on international intervention in Syria without UN-supported legislation, something that the Danish government has been ready to consider.
“The UN Security Council should react in this situation and if they don’t we will have to assume responsibility and entertain other options. That’s what we are doing,” Helle Thorning-Schmidt (Socialdemokraterne), the prime minister, said earlier in the week.
While the Danish public is less inclined to support such a move, Thorning-Schmidt’s statement came after the US and Britain said that it was almost certain that the Syrian state had used chemical weapons against its own population at least once. Although the British parliament voted against military action last night, Danish MPs have said that decision may not affect Denmark's course.
UN still investigating
A UN inspection team is currently in Syria investigating the possible use of chemical weapons and they are expected to be back on Saturday to reveal their findings.
The investigation was delayed earlier in the week after their convoy was shot at by snipers as they made their way towards the scene of the alleged chemical weapons attack.
Factfile | Danish aid to Syria
- In 2012 and 2013, Denmark contributed 336 million kroner to Syrian aid coffers and 98 million kroner in non-humanitarian support for a total of 424 million kroner
- Denmark also contributes food, water, blankets and health supplies, and has helped to establish schools
- Denmark also supports an initiative that collects information about human rights violation to be used for legal action after the war is over