We are delighted to have Mr. Farouq Al Habib with us this morning. He has come, at very short notice, to update the committee on the humanitarian work of Syria Civil Defence. He is very welcome. This presentation will provide the committee with an opportunity to receive, at first hand, an account of the situation on the ground which is very important for us as parliamentarians because there are so many atrocities happening in Syria. I thank Ms Valerie Hughes, who is the Gallery, for her efforts to ensure that Mr. Habib could attend today's meeting and the Irish embassy in Ankara for ensuring that a travel visa was issued to enable Mr. Habib to get here in time.
We look forward to the presentation, which includes a short video. The committee has taken a very keen interest in Syria and has had numerous meetings with many non-governmental organisations, NGOs, about the deteriorating humanitarian situation in recent months. We are very concerned about it. The media moves from story to story and what is happening in Syria is often left unreported and we only know what continues to happen there, at the expense of women, children and families because of people like Mr. Habib and the NGOs working in the country. We are delighted to have Mr. Habib here today. I will invite him to make a short presentation and then committee members will ask questions.
Before we begin today's proceedings, I remind members and those in the public Gallery to ensure that their mobile telephones are switched off completely for the duration of the meeting as they cause interference even in silent mode with the recording equipment in the committee rooms.
Members are reminded of the long-standing parliamentary practice to the effect that they should not comment on, criticise or make charges against a person outside the House or an official either by name or in such a way as to make him or her identifiable. By virtue of section 17(2)(l) of the Defamation Act 2009, witnesses are protected by absolute privilege in respect of their evidence to the joint committee. However, if they are directed by the Chairman to cease giving evidence on a particular matter and they continue to so do, they are entitled thereafter only to a qualified privilege in respect of their evidence. They are directed that only evidence connected with the subject matter of these proceedings is to be given and they are asked to respect the parliamentary practice to the effect that, where possible, they should not criticise or make charges against any person or entity by name or in such a way as to make him, her or it identifiable.