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Volume 659: debated on Wednesday 1 May 2019

With permission, Mr Speaker, I would like to pay a brief tribute to Dr Richard Valery Mouzoko Kiboung, who was working for the World Health Organisation to fight Ebola in the Democratic Republic of the Congo when he was killed in an attack on 19 April. Richard was working in the frontline of the response to save lives, and I am sure that the whole House will want to send our condolences to his family, friends and colleagues at this difficult time and to reiterate that health workers are not a target.

The UK’s humanitarian assistance is underpinned by strict principles of neutrality and impartiality, and it is targeted to meet the needs of those affected by the crisis.

I associate myself with my right hon. Friend’s remarks in supporting all those who are fighting the battle against Ebola in Africa.

After last night’s disturbing scenes on the streets of Caracas, what does my right hon. Friend say to those who retreat to their ideological comfort zone, blaming US imperialism rather than calling out the socialist Venezuelan regime for the humanitarian disaster that it has inflicted on its own people?

I wholeheartedly agree with my right hon. Friend. Let me be clear that this is a man-made crisis, caused by years of reckless mismanagement by the regime. Yesterday evening, while my right hon. Friend and others in this House were watching those terrible scenes of armoured military vehicles slamming into civilian protestors, I understand that the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Dan Carden) was defending Maduro and his regime.

Is it not now clear that there needs to be maximum solidarity internationally—from European Union countries, the United States and Latin American countries—with Juan Guaidó and the people of Venezuela, as the final days of the Maduro regime approach?

I absolutely agree with the hon. Gentleman, who has been consistent in his condemnation of the regime. We are working through the Lima group; it is absolutely right that we should give support to the region as well as Venezuela in particular. I call on all Members to support and call for swift presidential elections so that we can let the country move on.

The emergency £6.5 million UK emergency aid package to Venezuela was announced in February. Will the Secretary of State outline the priorities for that, especially given reports that up to 80% of Venezuelan households are without a reliable food source and the World Health Organisation’s suggestion that there has been a stark increase in maternal and infant mortality, and in malaria, tuberculosis and many other infectious diseases?

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. We are prioritising healthcare and nutrition needs. We will keep monitoring the situation, as those needs will change over time. This is an emergency, and people are in life-threatening situations.