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We Must Work Tirelessly to Confront Terrorism

We Must Work Tirelessly to Confront Terrorism

Wednesday, 21 August, 2019 - 14:15
Andrew Murrison
Dr Andrew Murrison MP was appointed as a Minister of State (Minister for the Middle East and North Africa) at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Department for International Development on 9 May 2019. He is the Conservative MP for South West Wiltshire.
Acts of terrorism stay with us. After the sickening and senseless attacks perpetrated by extremists who seek to impose their twisted ideology on others through force, we must make time to commemorate those we have lost. Today the world marks the International Day of Remembrance and of Tribute to the Victims of Terrorism. We remember the innocent Muslims leaving a mosque in Finsbury Park, attacked for their worship; Lee Rigby, targeted simply for having served his country; Ignacio Echeverria, killed trying to stop the London Bridge attackers armed only with a skateboard; the young people in Manchester, struck down while enjoying a concert. We will remember all those who have been affected by terror attacks in the UK in recent years. These personal tragedies are of course repeated across the world, from Westminster Bridge and Paris to Kabul, from Benghazi to Christchurch.

The greatest global terror threat of recent years, Daesh, has been responsible for unimaginable suffering. Daesh’s appalling brutality in Iraq and Syria has left innumerable dead, and many more with lasting wounds, both physical and mental. It tore apart communities, enslaved thousands of people and orphaned children. Due to the efforts of the UK and international partners through the Global Coalition Against Daesh, and the sacrifices of the Iraqi Security Forces and Syrian Democratic Forces on the ground, in March of this year, Daesh was denied the last of the once vast territory it occupied.

But the suffering it caused isn’t over and the poisonous ideology of Daesh lives on. Today in liberated areas of northeast Syria there are 1.6 million people in need of support, and in Iraq nearly 5% of the population remains displaced. Explosive devices left behind by Daesh continue to take innocent lives and slow down the important work of rebuilding hospitals, schools, and other vital services. The remnants of Daesh have now reverted to insurgency-type tactics across Iraq and Syria, and from there, they threaten more attacks across the world.

The threat of terrorism doesn’t just lie with Islamist extremists. We have seen terror attacks around the world this year carried out by far-right extremists and Islamist extremists alike. We all watched as terrorists espousing these different ideologies carried out the same acts of senseless violence in Christchurch, Sri Lanka, and El Paso. The attackers were begging to be remembered, memorialized in infamy. But as people around the world gathered in solemn solidarity after the attacks, we instead chose to remember the innocent victims.

On this day of commemoration, we must remember that we are not helpless in the face of terror. As governments, the greatest tribute we can pay those who have suffered at the hands of extremists is to work tirelessly to prevent future victims, to help their families rebuild their lives, and to help communities to heal and reject the ideologies that fuel extremism. Today 400 British soldiers are training Iraqi Security Forces, and more than 94,000 Iraqi troops have already been trained, ready to defend their fellow citizens. UK aid has helped clear explosive hazards from 663 locations, which can now become schools, businesses, hospitals, homes and community centers. The UK is supporting UN accountability mechanisms to gather evidence of Daesh’s crimes, to help bring those responsible to justice. We’re also leading international efforts to reduce the ability of Daesh to use its propaganda to recruit supporters and incite further attacks. And we mustn’t forget the victims of Daesh, forced to flee their homes and their livelihoods, whom we can still support. Through UK Aid we have given food and shelter kits to hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, provided four million Iraqis with healthcare, and two million access to safe drinking water, toilet, and shower facilities.

On this Day of Remembrance and of Tribute to the Victims of Terrorism, we remember those lives senselessly cut short. We also look ahead to the continued threat we face, no matter where we are in the world. We remind ourselves that we are resilient. From our collective grief, we can rebuild our societies to become stronger and more cohesive. Today of all days, we make the pledge that the UK will continue to do all we can to collaborate with partners and the international system to keep all of our communities safe from terror.

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