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Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict

Volume 586: debated on Thursday 23 October 2014

1. What recent progress he has made as the Prime Minister’s special envoy on preventing sexual violence in conflict. (905588)

7. What recent progress he has made as the Prime Minister’s special envoy on preventing sexual violence in conflict. (905595)

We have now started the work on delivering commitments from the June global summit to end sexual violence in conflict. Members of the UK team of experts have been deployed to Mali and to the Syrian borders, and shortly we will also deploy an expert to Iraq.

I welcome my right hon. Friend’s answer and all the work he is doing in this most important area. In the International Development Committee report of June last year, we recommended that the UK Government make the prevention of violence against women and girls a priority in the response to humanitarian emergencies and that UN peacekeepers should be trained in preventing and responding to such violence. Will he kindly update us on progress?

It is a very important priority of the work we do on this to encourage other Governments and international organisations to incorporate the prevention of sexual violence into military doctrine and training. I think we are making progress on that—in the EU, for example, by ensuring that the prevention of sexual violence is included in all common security and defence policy missions. We are also supporting the efforts of the African Union and the United Nations to ensure that there is zero tolerance of sexual exploitation and abuse committed by UN and African Union personnel in peacekeeping missions. We will keep up this work.

May I pay tribute to the extraordinary personal commitment of my right hon. Friend to this agenda and say how much I think it is appreciated across the House? Will he tell us what specific action he has taken to address reports—horrific reports—of violence being perpetrated against women and girls in ISIS-controlled areas of Iraq and Syria?

This is the latest appalling demonstration of the importance of this issue. Crimes against humanity are being committed by ISIL in Iraq and in Syria. The UK is providing £23 million in humanitarian aid, including aid that meets the specific needs of displaced women and girls. We are sending an expert to Iraq to look at what we can do to work with the Iraqi Government to help prevent sexual violence in conflict, to punish those responsible in the future and to provide more assistance for those affected.