The Home Secretary's announcement that areas of Syria and potentially West Africa will become unlawful ‘Designated Areas’ will severely affect aid workers says a campaign group.

Sajid Javid unveiled plans for new powers in the Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Act 2019.

The Act created an offence of entering or remaining in an area that has been designated by the Home Secretary, making it illegal for a UK national or resident to travel to or remain there without a legitimate reason, such as providing humanitarian aid. The offence attracts a prison sentence of up to 10 years.

Mr Javid said, "Today I can announce that I’ve asked my officials to work closely with CT policing and intelligence agencies to urgently review the case for exercising this power in relation to Syria, with a particular focus on Idlib and the North East.

"So anyone who is in these areas without a legitimate reason should be on notice."

Mr Javid was speaking as part of an update on the UK’s approach to counter-terrorism and safeguarding national security.

Moazzam Begg, Outreach Director for CAGE, said, “Javid’s pronouncement comes at a time when aid work is being increasingly criminalised, with charitable workers being subject to Schedule 7 interrogations, bank account closures and even citizenship deprivation.

"This law shows again how today, terrorism legislation isn't about violence. It's about geography and identity.

“Behind the rhetoric of counter-terrorism lies the fact that the state wants to encourage aid only through large charities with government backing, but it is these charities that are often slow to deliver aid in areas of most need.

"This also means that aid becomes politicised, and actions of charity are aligned to UK foreign policy, devaluing the very notion of aid itself.”