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Jordan: London Initiative 2019

Volume 654: debated on Wednesday 13 February 2019

1. What her priorities are for the London initiative 2019 on opportunities for growth and development in Jordan. [R] (909191)

Mr Speaker, I hope you will allow me to pay a brief tribute to the Department for International Development staff and partners who were caught up in the terrorist attack in Nairobi last month. Some of them, including a British national, lost their lives that day. Despite the trauma of that event, our staff immediately joined the crisis response team, and I want to thank them, as I am sure the whole House wishes to do, for all that they did.

The Prime Minister will lead the London initiative on 28 February to unlock growth, jobs and investment in Jordan. The UK is convening an international coalition of businesses and political leaders to support Jordan’s stability and self-reliance, generating jobs for all, but, in particular, for young people, women and refugees.

May I associate myself with the comments that the Secretary of State made about DFID staff caught up in the attack in Nairobi?

I was pleased to hear that the Prime Minister will be leading the UK-Jordan initiative at the end of this month. The Secretary of State mentions the importance of the inclusion of refugees and Jordanian women in the labour market. Will the Government be taking steps to draw to the attention of the Jordanians the barriers women face, including those relating to transport, access to childcare and a sense of physical safety?

First, I thank the hon. Lady for her interest in this tremendously important conference, which is a real turning point for Jordan. We are absolutely looking to secure investment in that country to enable the public funds to build that infrastructure to support everyone getting to work. Unless women and refugees are included, we will fail in that task.

May I declare an interest, having recently joined the hon. Member for Stretford and Urmston (Kate Green) on a visit with Oxfam in Jordan? I very much welcome the London initiative. Will urgent steps be taken to take account of the fact that youth unemployment in the country is now some 38%? Not only is there a high level of female unemployment, but the participation rate of women in the workforce in Jordan is even lower than that in Saudi Arabia. Will those urgent objectives be at the heart of what the Secretary of State is trying to achieve?

I can reassure my hon. Friend that that will absolutely be the case. This issue has been a focus for me personally on my visits to Jordan, and I will be focusing on it at the London conference.

Does the Secretary of State realise that one thing holding back development in Jordan is the number of children and young people killed on the roads there? I spoke at a conference in Jordan recently, where we looked at this area. Jordan is one of the better countries in the middle east and north Africa on this, but we need some action to be taken to stop children and young people being killed in Jordan in this way.

I pay tribute to the work the hon. Gentleman has done on this issue. We often think about disease and other such killers of children, but road traffic accidents take an enormous number of lives—I believe that they are the biggest killer of individuals in developing countries. He will know that we have a new programme looking at this, and we will continue to lean in on the issue.