Developing World (Humanitarian Assistance)

Oral Answers to Questions — International Development – in the House of Commons at 11:30 am on 4th February 2015.

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Photo of Graham Allen Graham Allen Chair, Political and Constitutional Reform Committee, Chair, Political and Constitutional Reform Committee 11:30 am, 4th February 2015

What steps she is taking to target humanitarian assistance at the poorest children in the developing world.

Photo of Desmond Swayne Desmond Swayne The Minister of State, Department for International Development

We work with agencies such as UNICEF and Save the Children to meet the immediate needs of children, but our key agenda is to link humanitarian assistance with long-term development.

Photo of Graham Allen Graham Allen Chair, Political and Constitutional Reform Committee, Chair, Political and Constitutional Reform Committee

Getting food and shelter to children is essential, but will the Minister consider the global investment that is necessary in the social and emotional rehabilitation of children? That will make them less traumatised by their experience; enable them to raise good families of their own and to rebuild their cultures; and, perhaps above all, make them more resistant to political and religious fundamentalism.

Photo of Desmond Swayne Desmond Swayne The Minister of State, Department for International Development

Yes; absolutely. I pay tribute to the hon. Gentleman’s work in driving forward that agenda. He is right that people will not achieve their potential while they are traumatised and do not have education and proper support. One third of refugee children are without primary education and some three quarters are without secondary education. It is for that reason that we have more than doubled our budget for education in conflict-affected and fragile states. We are determined to drive forward that agenda internationally.

Photo of James Gray James Gray Conservative, North Wiltshire

An outstandingly good charity in my constituency, Alive & Well, ships essential equipment such as water purification equipment to some of the poorest children in the world, particularly in Sierra Leone. The next shipment was due to go on 24 February, but the charity has discovered that the import duties that are being applied by the Government of Sierra Leone, which are up to 100% of the value of the goods, will make it impossible. Will the Minister take up the matter with his opposite number in the Sierra Leonean authorities to reduce the unfair import duties?

Photo of Desmond Swayne Desmond Swayne The Minister of State, Department for International Development

I am happy to take up that matter and to discuss it with my hon. Friend.

Photo of Gregory Campbell Gregory Campbell DUP, East Londonderry

Almost 5 million children die every year across the globe, principally because of malnutrition. What targets are being set internationally to ensure that that figure reduces year on year?

Photo of Desmond Swayne Desmond Swayne The Minister of State, Department for International Development

We have a project to reduce stunting. We spend a great deal of our budget on humanitarian relief that is targeted at children. It is a problem to which we are alive and on which we are leading.