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Projects for Young People

Volume 609: debated on Wednesday 4 May 2016

2. What support her Department provides for projects which involve working with young people in the developing world. (904849)

With Africa experiencing unprecedented growth in its young population, DFID has prioritised job creation for young people. That is good not only for young Africans but for Britain, because in the end we are tackling a root cause of migration.

Will my right hon. Friend outline what the impact might be on the number of Syrians trying to reach Europe if aid spending in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and other neighbouring countries hosting Syrian refugees were cut?

My hon. Friend raises a pertinent question. If the refugee camps that we support in countries around Syria were not funded and were closed, do we think the people there would stay in Syria? They would not; they would almost certainly look to come to Europe. The irony is that parties such as the UK Independence party that want to cut back on aid have, in effect, a pro-migration policy.

Today the Select Committee on International Development publishes its report on the crisis in Yemen, and one issue that we highlight is the impact on children and young people, including the fact that 47% of school-age children are not at school. Will the Secretary of State inform the House of what plans the Government have to use the forthcoming world humanitarian summit in Istanbul to focus on education in emergencies such as the situation in Yemen?

The crises in Syria and Yemen shine a spotlight on an issue that I feel has been missed out of humanitarian responses for too long—the fact that 37 million children around the world are out of school purely because they are in areas affected by either emergencies or conflict. The UK has led the way, with the “No Lost Generation” initiative, in working with countries to get children back into school. We would like to do the same in Yemen, but as the hon. Gentleman will know, the situation in that country makes it extremely difficult to get even the most basic humanitarian support flowing.

DFID funds the International Citizen Service, which helps young people from Britain to help their counterparts in developing countries. Will the Secretary of State join me in encouraging more young people from Havant and across Britain to get involved?

My hon. Friend has asked a really sensible question. More than 20,000 young people have now benefited from the International Citizen Service. It gives them a fantastic experience at a really important stage in their lives. In our manifesto we committed to tripling the numbers of young people able to benefit from it.

Do the Government recognise the important role that young people play in combating global poverty? Will the Secretary of State welcome the commitment in the Scottish National party manifesto to continue funding Scotland’s development education centres, and will she set out the steps that the UK Government are taking to promote global citizenship across the country?

We recognise the Scottish Government’s work in Malawi, which is also very much the focus of UK work. On young people’s role, from my perspective, it is not simply that young people can be, and are, advocates for development but that they are many of the people on the ground delivering. If we look at the response to Ebola in Sierra Leone, young people in communities did the work to help those communities understand how to stay safe.

For young people in countries most affected by the trauma of war and displacement there can be as few as one psychiatrist or mental health worker per 2 million people. How will the Secretary of State ensure that the Department has adequate resources to fulfil its commitment to young people’s mental health, as set out in the disability framework?

We have brought in the disability framework over the past couple of years because we felt that we had not focused on that area in development in the way that we should have. Children’s mental health is incredibly important. We have put in more money through great agencies such as UNICEF to fund psychosocial support. One of the biggest problems we face is making sure that we have Arabic speakers with the right kinds of skills in the right quantity to deal with the scale of the challenge.