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Refugees: Middle East

Volume 608: debated on Tuesday 12 April 2016

8. What recent discussions he has had with his counterparts in the EU, Africa and the middle east on steps to tackle the refugee crisis in the middle east. (904408)

Ministers have frequent discussions with both EU and non-EU partners about migration and refugees. Our focus is on securing a durable solution to the crisis which tackles the causes of migration as well as the consequences, and we continue to play a leading role in that work.

The Libyan Government recently requested help to prevent illegal migrants from departing from their coast. When does the Minister think we will be in a position to begin returning those intercepted in the Med to the north African coast, rather than allowing them to make landfall in the EU?

We are ready to respond positively to requests for support and assistance from the new Libyan Government to tackle the criminal gangs of people smugglers and prevent tragic deaths at sea. We have not yet had a specific request for assistance on tackling migration as my hon. Friend described, but we are ready to take action if we receive such a request.

21. What is the Minister’s current assessment of political progress in Tunisia, and what are the British Government doing to support the progress there? I do not mind if the Minister with responsibility for the middle east answers.


We continue to support the democratic evolution of Tunisia, and we are working actively to support the Tunisian authorities to ensure that they have control over their borders so that there can be checks against the risks of terrorists moving across borders and in order to disrupt the work of people smugglers.

As we successfully engage Daesh in Syria and northern Iraq, what assessment has the Minister made of the threat of Daesh moving to Libya?

It is a very serious threat indeed. That is why we give such a high priority to international work to establish a proper system of government in Libya and very much welcome the work that has led to the creation of the Government of national accord. We are working actively with European and wider international partners to ensure that that new Government get the support that they need.

Many on the Opposition Benches strongly agree that there should be a strategy in which the UK is involved to strengthen countries in order to stop their people wanting to flee. However, far more should be done by the UK to allow more people in, and one process would strengthen the other. Does the Minister agree?

No. We have given a commitment, on which we are delivering, to resettle 20,000 vulnerable Syrian refugees from camps in the region during the lifetime of this Parliament. Let us not forget that we also pledged £2.3 billion in humanitarian assistance to support Syrian refugees, giving them help in the regions where they are present and trying to deter them from taking the appalling risk of putting themselves in the hands of the people smugglers.