Refugees and Human Rights

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:24 pm on 24th January 2018.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Paul Scully Paul Scully Chair, International Development Sub-Committee on the Work of the Independent Commission for Aid Impact 3:24 pm, 24th January 2018

It is great to have this debate today given that Saturday is Holocaust Memorial Day and that this year marks the 70th anniversary of the universal declaration of human rights.

I came to this place after having stood for election on a platform of local issues, but my eyes have been opened over the past three years through travel and by speaking to other people. There was the woman in a Rohingya camp who had seen her sons murdered and the man who had had the back of his head staved in with a machete that morning. There was the Yazidi Christian who had made a dangerous boat crossing with a 10-day-old child during which the boat had been capsized before the navy cutters came to pluck them out of the water.

I have spoken to a CNN journalist who had risked her life by going undercover to film slave auctions in Libya. I have met Venezuelan opposition politicians who had been beaten up due to their political beliefs, and there are now a reported 140,000 refugees in neighbouring Colombia. I have of course been to Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, where I saw the hall of names of those who died in the Shoah, which really goes to the crux of things when we talk about suffering.

I do not have the time to do justice to the Government’s policy on Syria, where we are the second-biggest donor to the camps in neighbouring countries. We are supporting people as close to their homes as possible in anticipation of them being able to return, which they want to do, when it is safe to do so. By doing that, we are able to help hundreds of thousands of people there, including many children, instead of waiting until they attempt a boat crossing.