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Syria: Displaced People

Volume 602: debated on Tuesday 24 November 2015

4. What support the Government are providing to countries neighbouring Syria to help displaced people. (902305)

15. What support the Government are providing to countries neighbouring Syria to help displaced people. (902318)

One of the five principal strands of the international counter-ISIL strategy is humanitarian and stabilisation support. The UK has been at the forefront of providing humanitarian support, having committed more than £1 billion to assisting host countries that have opened their doors to refugees fleeing Assad’s regime and terrorist organisations, including al-Nusra, al-Qaeda and Daesh.

Will the Minister, while carrying on this important work, work flat out with colleagues to build a robust and energised—there is the key point: energised—consensus against ISIL among the other countries of the middle east?

My hon. Friend is absolutely right that we must be energised. The Government are committed to working with the now 65-strong counter-ISIL coalition on our five-point strategy: defeating Daesh on the battlefield; cutting off its funding streams; stemming the flow of foreign fighters; countering the online messaging; and providing the humanitarian and stabilisation support I have already mentioned.

Does my hon. Friend agree that we must do all we can to support the people living in refugee camps and the host communities in the region and to ensure they can return to their homes and rebuild their lives in safety and security?

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. We have done a huge amount in providing stabilisation and humanitarian support to do just that—to allow people to stay in the region, but also to help the vulnerable who need to be taken away from the region and supported, which is why we are taking 20,000 refugees here in the UK.

The issue for Syrian refugees in the region is that they are not allowed to work legally when they are in neighbouring countries. What are the Government doing to support countries such as Jordan economically, so that that can change and refugees may work in such countries legally?

The hon. Gentleman makes a valid point. I visited Zaatari camp, which contains 100,000 refugees. What the hon. Gentleman said is an issue, and causes a bit of tension locally with people in the camp willing to be paid less, but wanting to work. We are working with Jordan and the United Nations to provide employment programmes. The skills can be kept up, so that when the guns finally fall silent in Syria we can transfer those skill sets back into the country.

When I visited the Zaatari refugee camp, I saw at first hand the amount of aid that the UK Government are giving to help the situation on the ground in Syria, as well as in Lebanon, Turkey and elsewhere. The UK is the second-highest donor to those countries. Will the Minister update us on what progress has been made on getting other neighbouring countries and other partners to make their proper contribution to helping the humanitarian crisis in the region?

I am grateful for the right hon. Gentleman’s support. Sometimes the number of 20,000 refugees that the UK is taking is taken out of context in comparison with the work we are doing to support people such as those in the Zaatari camp. We are providing support to other countries, but we are also encouraging the neighbours. That is one reason why we are hosting a conference here in February, along with Kuwait, to encourage other countries to provide donations so that we can be ready for post-conflict reconstruction both in Iraq and in Syria.