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Libya (Humanitarian Aid)

Volume 526: debated on Wednesday 30 March 2011

We have provided funding for the International Committee of the Red Cross, which has sent in three medical teams, medical supplies to treat 3,000 people affected by fighting, and essential relief items for up to 100,000 of the most vulnerable.

As the Minister knows, a team from Amnesty International has been in Libya for the past month, and it has found evidence of hundreds of missing and detained people. Given Gaddafi’s track record of extreme cruelty and torture, will he try to ensure that, at the very least, the ICRC has access to those detained people, so that news can be given to their families and they can have some contact with them?

The right hon. Lady, who rightly always champions these issues, is entirely correct, which is why we and the United Nations have called strongly for unfettered access for humanitarian agencies. We continue to call for that access to be given throughout Libya.

The potential humanitarian crisis in Libya is one of those that should be influenced by the important report by Lord Ashdown on our response to humanitarian crises. I know that the Secretary of State welcomed the publication of that review. Can he give us some idea of the time scale for a Government response to this important piece of work?

My hon. Friend is right. Lord Ashdown’s review of the way Britain conducts its humanitarian and emergency relief is outstanding. The Government will now consult and take six weeks to consider all the implications of that, and then report back to the House.

Many sub-Saharan Africans work as migrant workers in Libya and do not have the resources or the opportunity to be repatriated. One of my constituents, who works with the Somali community in Belfast, has contacted me as members of that community are very concerned about their relatives. What are the international community and our Government doing to try to stem that aspect of the humanitarian crisis?

The hon. Lady is right to identify the migrant communities leaving Libya, especially through Tunisia, as particularly vulnerable. That is why Britain, along with others, has flown tens of thousands of them home to their countries and families. Britain has been involved in repatriating more than 12,500.