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Developing World (Humanitarian Assistance)

Volume 592: debated on Wednesday 4 February 2015

3. What steps she is taking to target humanitarian assistance at the poorest children in the developing world. (907429)

We work with agencies such as UNICEF and Save the Children to meet the immediate needs of children, but our key agenda is to link humanitarian assistance with long-term development.

Getting food and shelter to children is essential, but will the Minister consider the global investment that is necessary in the social and emotional rehabilitation of children? That will make them less traumatised by their experience; enable them to raise good families of their own and to rebuild their cultures; and, perhaps above all, make them more resistant to political and religious fundamentalism.

Yes; absolutely. I pay tribute to the hon. Gentleman’s work in driving forward that agenda. He is right that people will not achieve their potential while they are traumatised and do not have education and proper support. One third of refugee children are without primary education and some three quarters are without secondary education. It is for that reason that we have more than doubled our budget for education in conflict-affected and fragile states. We are determined to drive forward that agenda internationally.

An outstandingly good charity in my constituency, Alive & Well, ships essential equipment such as water purification equipment to some of the poorest children in the world, particularly in Sierra Leone. The next shipment was due to go on 24 February, but the charity has discovered that the import duties that are being applied by the Government of Sierra Leone, which are up to 100% of the value of the goods, will make it impossible. Will the Minister take up the matter with his opposite number in the Sierra Leonean authorities to reduce the unfair import duties?

Almost 5 million children die every year across the globe, principally because of malnutrition. What targets are being set internationally to ensure that that figure reduces year on year?

We have a project to reduce stunting. We spend a great deal of our budget on humanitarian relief that is targeted at children. It is a problem to which we are alive and on which we are leading.