Refugee Crisis in Europe

Part of Bill Presented — Devolution (London) Bill – in the House of Commons at 2:27 pm on 8th September 2015.

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Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Secretary of State for the Home Department 2:27 pm, 8th September 2015

I absolutely agree with my hon. and learned Friend. If he has a little patience, I should like to say something later in my remarks about what we are doing in that respect.

I set out the four main areas of effort and should like to address each briefly. The first is aid spending. Since 2011, the UK has been at the forefront of the international response to the humanitarian crisis in Syria. Our financial contribution of more than £1 billion is the largest we have ever made to a humanitarian crisis and makes us the second-biggest bilateral donor in the world. To put it in context, the amount of money we are spending is almost as much as the rest of the European Union put together.

The United Kingdom can be proud that we are the only major country in the world that has kept our promise to spend 0.7% of our national wealth on aid, and prouder still of the difference that that money is making. Our support has reached hundreds of thousands of vulnerable people across Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Egypt and Iraq. It has paid for more than 18 million food rations; it means that 1.6 million people have access to clean water; and it is providing education to a quarter of a million children. Last week, the Government announced an additional £100 million of aid spending. As the Prime Minister told the House yesterday, £60 million of that will go to help people who are still in Syria. The rest will go to the refugees in neighbouring countries—Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon. More than half of that new funding will support children, particularly those who have been orphaned or separated from their families.

UK aid from the British people is helping the victims of the Syrian conflict where and when they need it most. Without our aid to those camps, the numbers attempting the dangerous journey to Europe would be much higher. The Government have always been clear on this point: we must stop people putting their lives at risk by taking those perilous routes, as my hon. and learned Friend pointed out a few minutes ago.