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House of Commons Hansard
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Internally Displaced People
28 February 2018
Volume 636

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2. What support her Department provides to internally displaced people. [904079]

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The UK is committed to meeting the needs of displaced populations, including internally displaced people. We are providing multi-year funding to support IDPs and the communities that host them through both humanitarian and longer term development programmes.

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I thank the Secretary of State for her answer. The number of IDPs has risen by 10 million over the past four years to 40 million worldwide. What representations has the Secretary of State made to ensure that the UN negotiations on the global compacts for migration and for refugees do not sideline the needs of IDPs?

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I thank the hon. Lady for raising this matter. IDPs due to conflict and violence outnumber refugees by two to one, but they have not received the focus or been given the profile that they need. In addition to the compacts that the hon. Lady mentioned, there are moves to set up a new panel looking at the particular and unique needs of IDPs, and the Department for International Development will support that.

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Internally displaced people are some of the most vulnerable people in the world, and we have heard a lot recently about charities that are abusing those people. Has my right hon. Friend seen The Daily Telegraph today? It talks about the BBC World Service’s charitable arm, where sexual harassment and inappropriate behaviour, which is totally wrong in this field, has happened under the watch of the director of news.

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It is very wrong, but the answer must now focus on internally displaced people.

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My hon. Friend is right to point out that one reason why we must be good on safeguarding and not dismiss such issues is to protect those individuals. The BBC did not report those incidents to us at the time, but my letter of two weeks ago prompted it to come forward with that information. That is a good thing, and we need to grip the problem and deliver for vulnerable people around the world.

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Many thousands of people have been displaced from their homes in Syria. What is the Secretary of State doing to demonstrate to those people, and to every other civilian in Syria, that the British Government have not given up on them?

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We have not given up on them, and we are working with the Governments of Jordan and Lebanon to provide people with support over both the short term and the long term. DFID recently moved its priorities towards longer term support for such individuals, and we remain the third largest donor to support them.

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In Burma, hundreds of thousands of Rohingya have been internally displaced and some have fled across the border. What dialogue is my right hon. Friend having with the Burmese Government about the constant persecution of the Rohingya within Burma and the fact that they are being driven out by genocide?

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With your indulgence, Mr Speaker, I want to share my concern that the International Development Committee has not been given access to Burma, which is disgraceful. However, I can assure my hon. Friend that I have regular discussions with all parts of Government in Bangladesh and Burma about support for these individuals. It is vital that we get the Bangladesh Government to consider the medium term and breaking down the camp at Cox’s Bazar, and we are looking at our programme in both countries to ensure that displaced people are our priority.

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On behalf of Parliament, I concur with the Secretary of State. The situation is absolutely disgraceful, and this matter will be raised by the hon. Member for Liverpool, West Derby (Stephen Twigg) later on in our proceedings.

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The UN estimates that 6.1 million Syrians are internally displaced. With fresh fighting in eastern Ghouta despite the ceasefire, that number will continue to rise. What is the Department doing specifically to support displaced Syrian families in that particular region? Their needs and challenges are increasing with every passing day.

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We have a huge number of programmes that are supporting those people in particular—not just the short-term needs of shelter, food and so forth, but education, jobs and livelihoods. Those individuals have some unique needs that have not been addressed to date with as much focus by the international community, and the setting up of a panel to consider those needs and what more we can do to help in similar situations will be a big step forward.