Syrian Refugees

Oral Answers to Questions — Foreign and Commonwealth Office – in the House of Commons at 11:30 am on 14 July 2015.

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Photo of Jess Phillips Jess Phillips Labour, Birmingham, Yardley 11:30, 14 July 2015

What discussions he has had with his counterparts in EU member states and others on (a) resettlement of Syrian refuges and (b) the UN’s response to the Syrian refugee situation.

Photo of Tobias Ellwood Tobias Ellwood The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs

We support the EU’s proposals for sustainable protection through the EU regional development protection programmes, to ensure that we can provide the necessary assistance to all those Syrian refugees caught up in this terrible crisis.

Photo of Jess Phillips Jess Phillips Labour, Birmingham, Yardley

More than 100 Syrian civilians have been killed since May as a result of the use of indiscriminate weapons such as barrel bombs. In the light of the recent meetings in New York, what role are the Government playing in the United Nations Security Council to ensure that the UK’s strong statement of support for the implementation of UN Security Council resolution 2139, in response to the increasing use of barrel bombs in Syria, is followed through?

Photo of Tobias Ellwood Tobias Ellwood The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs

The hon. Lady is absolutely right, and there are a number of quarters in which we can provide assistance. We are the second largest donor to the refugee programmes that are providing support to the neighbouring countries in the region which have taken in the 4 million refugees who have now fled the conflict. The UN has been crucial in coming up with that Security Council resolution, but we have run into the buffers because some of the usual characters do not want to support it. I hope that we will advance the programme and that we will see some movement in the UN General Assembly in September.

Photo of Jon Ashworth Jon Ashworth Shadow Minister (Cabinet Office)

The Minister will recall that, back in April, the acting head of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees said that Europe was simply not doing enough in this regard. This is a humanitarian disaster, with 4 million refugees living in neighbouring countries. What urgent representations is the Minister making to his European counterparts about making the funds available to deal with this humanitarian crisis?

Photo of Tobias Ellwood Tobias Ellwood The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs

The Kuwait III talks are taking place, and a number of countries in the region are being asked to donate more funds in order to provide that assistance. There is a philosophical argument, which we have discussed in the House, as to whether this country should take in more refugees or provide more support in the region. I have visited the Zaatari refugee camp, and it is clear that the majority of Syrians want to remain in that location, which is why we are donating so much money—£800 million—to support people in the region.