Arab Refugees

Oral Answers to Questions — Overseas Development – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 25th October 1976.

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Photo of Dennis Canavan Dennis Canavan , Stirlingshire West 12:00 am, 25th October 1976

asked the Minister for Overseas Development whether he will offer development aid towards assisting Arab refugees in the Gaza Strip.

Photo of Mr Frank Judd Mr Frank Judd , Portsmouth North

I think that we can best assist in this field through the substantial contributions we already provide to the work of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). Britain expects to contribute some £3·75 million directly to the agency in 1976 and we also bear our share of the European Community contribution to it.

Photo of Dennis Canavan Dennis Canavan , Stirlingshire West

Since that refugee problem has existed for almost one-third of the century, and since thousands of people are living in absolute squalor in one of the most densely populated areas in the world, will my hon. Friend assure us that he will continue to do all in his power to assist in rehabilitation programmes to try to rehouse these refugees and their families?

Photo of Mr Frank Judd Mr Frank Judd , Portsmouth North

We deeply appreciate the reasons for my hon. Friend's anxiety. The British Government are the second largest cumulative contributor to the agency after the United States, with the basic contributions that I have just outlined.

Photo of Sir John Hall Sir John Hall , Wycombe

What contributions are being made by the oil-rich Arab countries to helping Arab refugees?

Photo of Mr Frank Judd Mr Frank Judd , Portsmouth North

UNRWA is an international institution, which draws its support from the world community as a whole.

Photo of Mr Eric Heffer Mr Eric Heffer , Liverpool, Walton

Is it not a scandal that the oil-rich countries should not make a real contribution towards helping the Arab refugees? If the Government are making any representations, is it not time that they made them to those who are very rich indeed, and asked them to help the poor people of their own nationality?

Photo of Mr Frank Judd Mr Frank Judd , Portsmouth North

I am sure that my hon. Friend, with his concern about this matter, will agree that the lead given by the Government on this issue is one of which the whole international community should take note.