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Losing Loved Ones Overseas: Support

Volume 702: debated on Tuesday 26 October 2021

Losing a loved one is always extremely difficult, particularly if it happens overseas. The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office supports about 4,000 families affected by death abroad annually. Consular staff work tirelessly to provide information on local laws and systems, and offer tailored support to British people and their families in order to make arrangements.

In my constituency, we have sadly had two recent and high-profile cases of families losing a loved one abroad, including Susan and John Cooper in Egypt, and more recently Kelsey Devlin in Pakistan. Will my right hon. Friend look into those two cases to see whether there is anything further that the Foreign Office can do in order that the families can finally get the answers they need so that they can grieve?

May I first offer my deepest sympathies to my hon. Friend’s constituents following the deaths of their loved ones? Officials continue to support Mr and Mrs Cooper’s family and are working with Her Majesty’s Coroner and Egyptian authorities to enable the inquest to take place as soon as possible. My officials are also supporting Ms Devlin’s family, and will assist them in reporting their concerns surrounding this tragic case to the police in Pakistan. I would also like to offer to meet my hon. Friend to discuss these two cases.

Does the Minister agree that although charities such as the Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust in Northern Ireland do a tremendous job in assisting with complex repatriation, there is a greater role and need for a Government-led repatriation section to be established?

As I said, FCDO consular staff provide assistance to about 4,000 British families a year. The purpose of the assistance is to provide tailored support depending on families’ particular needs.