UK £10m aid package to help end 'death sentence' facing innocent Raqqa citizens

Britain has announced a £10 million aid package to end the "death sentence" innocent people in the liberated Syrian city of Raqqa still face from Islamic State (IS) booby-traps and war wounds.

The city, described by the Government as "the head of the snake" of the so-called caliphate claimed by IS, was formally liberated on Friday when Syrian Democratic Forces, a group of militia factions, declared victory over the terror group.

But International Development Secretary Priti Patel called on the international community to follow the UK in helping the hundreds of thousands who were forced to leave with nothing and are suffering life-threatening injuries and trauma after years of violence, bombing and landmines planted across the city.

Others have been held hostage by IS, also known as Daesh, or forced into hiding within the city itself.

The UK money will help clear landmines and restock hospitals so displaced Syrians can eventually return home and those in the city can rebuild their lives.

Ms Patel said: "Daesh's iron grip on the city of Raqqa has stolen the lives of too many innocent people and now that this evil regime has been driven out, it is absolutely crucial that the international community actively helps them rebuild their lives.

"After years of barbaric and indiscriminate violence by Daesh, the liberation of Raqqa offers a glimmer of hope - but defenceless men, women and children still face a brutal death sentence from lethal landmines or wounds inflicted by the conflict.

"UK aid is providing a lifeline for countless Syrians who have lost absolutely everything, giving life-saving medical treatment, water and blankets to those that have escaped and destroying deadly explosives to ensure people can return safely."

The British aid package will:

Clear landmines and lethal explosives

Restock hospitals and mobile surgical units with essential medicines and equipment

Provide 145,000 medical consultations, including for the wounded and starving, and psychological support for 1,600 people traumatised by the horror of war

Provide 31,000 relief kits including cooking equipment and blankets for displaced people

Improve access to clean water for 15,000 people, with jerry cans and water-purifying tablets to prevent the spread of disease

Help pregnant women with 1,000 clean delivery kits

The aid will be delivered by British partners already working in Syria, including UN agencies and the World Health Organisation.

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