Iraqi Refugees

Part of Constitutional Reform – in the House of Commons at 7:11 pm on 3rd July 1991.

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Photo of Douglas Hogg Douglas Hogg Minister of State (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) 7:11 pm, 3rd July 1991

My hon. Friend is right to draw attention to the position in south Iraq. My right hon. Friend the Member for Guildford and many other hon. Members, including the hon. Member for Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney (Mr. Rowlands), also referred to that. The position in south Iraq is extremely worrying. Early reports that up to 500,000 people are sheltering in the marshes are probably wrong, but there are many people there—perhaps between 30,000 and 100,000.

We have warned the Iraqi Government that repression against those people would lead to the direst consequences. We need to know more about what is happening in south Iraq and we, therefore, greatly welcome the fact that Prince Sadruddin is leading a high-level United Nations' team to Iraq to make an in-depth study of need. That report will be of the greatest value to us. It is essential that we know more about what is happening in south Iraq. I agree with the hon. Members for Workington (Mr. Campbell-Savours) and for Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney, my right hon. Friend the Member for Guildford and others that the refugee problem in Iraq is not at an end.

The Select Committee's report states that the quality of the United Kingdom's response to the crisis has been good. That conclusion was affirmed by hon. Members who have personal experience of that part of the world as a result of their visit there. The hon. Member for Derbyshire, North-East (Mr. Barnes) made some ungenerous remarks about aid. I suggest that a little more—