Skip to main content

Topical Questions

Volume 585: debated on Wednesday 3 September 2014

After visiting Zambia in July to see its work in tackling child marriage, my Department led the successful Girl Summit and #YouthForChange event with the aim of helping to end female genital mutilation and child early and forced marriage in a generation. My Department has also been focused on the UK’s response to the humanitarian crisis in Iraq, Gaza and Syria, and the spread of the Ebola virus in west Africa.

I have heard young constituents talk about the National Citizen Service programme and its transformational effect on their lives, and I believe that the International Citizen Service proposals will have an equally transformational impact on people who might otherwise never have such an opportunity. Will the Secretary of State tell us more about how this programme will evolve, and how we can spread the word about its opportunities to people?

More than 5,600 UK volunteers aged between 18 and 25 have now taken part in the International Citizen Service. It is a fantastic scheme giving young people wonderful opportunities, and we plan to expand it and grow those places.

T2. In the Central African Republic, the humanitarian situation remains dire. What steps is the Secretary of State taking to help there, including the situation for refugees to Chad, Cameroon and Democratic Republic of the Congo? (905139)

The UK has provided £23 million in humanitarian assistance to the Central African Republic crisis since mid-2013, as well as £2.5 million in development funding through central programmes. We are the second largest bilateral donor and some of that money goes to the region for refugees.

T4. What humanitarian assistance has DFID afforded to the Iraqi town of Amerli, which until recently was surrounded by ISIL militants, resulting in thousands of Shi’a Turkmen being threatened with starvation and death? (905141)

My hon. Friend will be aware that the UK supported international efforts to deliver aid to thousands of people trapped by ISIL in the Iraqi town of Amerli during the weekend. DFID provided supplies of 8.5 tonnes of water and 3 tonnes of food, which were dropped from the air by the RAF C-130 aircraft. I would like to take this opportunity to thank our RAF personnel for doing such an outstanding job in providing those life-saving supplies.

T5. World Vision has told me that half a million children did not begin a new school year last month because of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. How does the Department intend to support efforts to ensure that we do not see another lost generation and that these children get to school? (905142)

The hon. Gentleman is right to raise that issue. One of the challenges has been that many of the people displaced within Gaza went to schools that were empty because of the school holidays. I recently spoke to the head of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency about how we can ensure we create the homes and the refuges for people to leave the schools so that the children can get back to school. The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right; we need to make sure that they do not lose their education.

T6. What are the British Government’s plans for development goals as part of the UN General Assembly later this month? (905143)

We will be pushing our vision for a compelling new set of development goals in relation to post-2015, and in our August presidency of the UN Security Council, we have been focusing on conflict prevention.

T8. Will the Secretary of State confirm that Ministers of both parties will be voting in favour of the Bill enshrining our 0.7% commitment to development in law? (905145)

The most important thing is that for the first time ever, this country and this Government have met their pledge to hit 0.7%, which is an achievement that we should be proud of, and we support the Bill.

T7. Many people are still stuck in camps on the Burma-Thai border, unable to return home and in a precarious situation, without enough food or supplies. Will the Minister meet Kidz in Kampz in my constituency, which does a wonderful job helping people to understand the problems on the ground? (905144)