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Topical Questions

Volume 582: debated on Wednesday 18 June 2014

I would like to take this opportunity to update the House on my Department’s response to the situation in Iraq. DFID rapidly deployed a team of humanitarian assessors to Erbil in Iraq last Thursday. On Saturday, I announced a £3 million package of UK relief comprising £2 million via the rapid response facility mechanism to help tens of thousands of Iraqi women, men and children get clean water, medicine and sanitation and £1 million to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to provide mobile protection teams to support vulnerable women and girls.

My right hon. Friend will be aware of the very serious outbreak of Ebola hemorrhagic virus in west Africa. What steps is her Department taking to assist Governments in the region to deal with this very serious issue?

I can assure my hon. and learned Friend that the Department for International Development is closely monitoring the situation. He has raised this question with me in the past. We are finalising funding to the World Health Organisation to respond to the national Ebola emergency response proposal through training, the use of surveillance tools, the purchase of infection control equipment and the provision of global expertise. We are also working with non-governmental organisation partners to make sure that people are well aware of the outbreak that is taking place in the region. [Interruption.]

Order. There is quite a lot of noise. Let us have a bit of courteous attention to a Member of 27 years standing, Mr Paul Flynn.

T3. The Newport NATO summit is likely to be an event of great political significance. What work is the Secretary of State doing in her Department to ensure that the important issues of international development are prominent on the agenda? (904285)

The hon. Gentleman has raised a pertinent question. Over recent years, we have really understood just how stability in countries is critical for development to take place. If we look at the millennium development goals, we can see that none has been achieved by countries in conflict. It is why we increasingly work with not only the Foreign Office but the Ministry of Defence in helping to have programmes that can give us the best prospect of stability.

T2. Will my right hon. Friend give the House an update on DFID’s work in Nepal and on what the Government are doing to help with its infrastructure and to support its economic development? (904284)

The UK is building vital new roads and bridges and helping Nepal to bring in foreign investment, including on hydro power. In the past three years, UK aid has created 150,000 jobs and built or maintained more than 4,000 km of roads in Nepal.

T5. Is it still part of DFID’s strategy to try to reduce opium production in Helmand province, and if it is, can we have an update on the progress? (904287)

I share the hon. Gentleman’s passion for ensuring that our development work in Afghanistan is effective. He will be aware that we have done a significant amount of work in relation to livelihoods and economic development both in Kabul and, critically, out in Helmand. I am happy to write to him with further details on that.

T4. I warmly welcome the allocation of £3 million by the rapid response facility to help those who are fleeing persecution in Iraq. Will that money be used to help those who are not only fleeing within the country but crossing national frontiers? (904286)

The £3 million will predominantly be used to support Iraqi refugees who are now displaced by the fighting. I can assure my hon. Friend that we are also providing support to Syrian refugees who have crossed over into Iraq as well.

T6. Will my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State update us on the welcome announcement that the green investment bank will now work with the International Climate Fund to bring expertise to developing countries, which will be an important target for export markets for UK plc? (904288)

I hope that we can all agree that the green investment bank, which was established by this Government, has been an excellent way of not only tackling our own domestic issues around climate change but, increasingly, looking at how we can use that institution to further our development aims in that regard too.

T8. With an estimated 9 million people displaced from their homes in Syria, is it right that under the vulnerable persons relocation scheme just 24 Syrians have come to the UK in the past six months? (904290)

This is an important scheme that enables us not just to provide support to people in the region—the overwhelming majority of them are still there—but to be one of those countries that provides a haven for people who need to be removed from the region and supported here in the UK. I am proud that we have that programme in place. We expect several hundred to benefit from it, and I can assure the hon. Lady that it is up and running.

T10. Given that the unity Government of Palestine have unequivocally endorsed the Quartet principles, will the Secretary of State confirm that she will robustly continue DFID’s financial support to them, or even increase it? (904292)

We will continue to provide support to the Palestinian people. The UK has welcomed the formation of the new interim technocratic Government. We have also made it clear that our continued support for that new Government will rest on their commitment to the principles of non-violence and their acceptance of all previous agreements and obligations, including Israel’s legitimate right to exist.

T9. Because of the Government’s inconsistent policies, Britain’s relationships with Rwanda are fraying. What is being done to rebuild those relationships, particularly given the problems in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo? (904291)

I returned from Rwanda just over a week ago and I can assure the hon. Gentleman that relations are good. Rwanda is an exemplar in terms of development, but I had to raise the issue of political space and other human rights issues.