Democratic Republic of the Congo: Humanitarian Assistance

Oral Answers to Questions — International Development – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 23rd May 2018.

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Photo of Jim Cunningham Jim Cunningham Labour, Coventry South 12:00 am, 23rd May 2018

What funding her Department has allocated to humanitarian assistance programmes in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Photo of Jim Cunningham Jim Cunningham Labour, Coventry South

What are the Government doing to prevent the outbreak from spreading to places such as Kinshasa?

Photo of Harriett Baldwin Harriett Baldwin Minister of State (Department for International Development) (Jointly with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office), Minister of State (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) (Joint with the Department for International Development)

The plan announced by the World Health Organisation involves making sure that we use a new, experimental vaccine that the UK has helped to develop. It is being applied to anyone who has come into contact with Ebola. Yesterday vaccinations began to be offered to health workers and to anyone who has had contact with a contact.

Photo of Stephen Crabb Stephen Crabb Conservative, Preseli Pembrokeshire

I commend the Department’s response to the outbreak, but what assurance can the Minister give that the capacity and leadership at the WHO are stronger than they were in 2014, when it made so many mistakes in responding to an earlier outbreak?

Photo of Harriett Baldwin Harriett Baldwin Minister of State (Department for International Development) (Jointly with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office), Minister of State (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) (Joint with the Department for International Development)

I pay tribute to Jane Ellison, who is now very much involved in that. As my right hon. Friend will know, there has been an extensive programme of work to learn lessons from the outbreak in Sierra Leone, and, indeed, this is the ninth outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo. On every occasion lessons are learnt, and we are helping the WHO and the Government to deliver on them.

Photo of Preet Kaur Gill Preet Kaur Gill Shadow Minister (International Development)

In the light of the DRC Government’s decision to boycott the April humanitarian pledging conference in Geneva and to deny the scale of the displacement crisis in the country, what representations has the Secretary of State made, now that Ebola poses a very real additional threat, to ensure that the same does not happen again, and that the DRC Government accept urgent assistance to prevent an international health emergency?

Photo of Harriett Baldwin Harriett Baldwin Minister of State (Department for International Development) (Jointly with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office), Minister of State (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) (Joint with the Department for International Development)

The hon. Lady is right to highlight the wider humanitarian crisis in the DRC. I was there myself last month to see the fantastic work that UK aid workers are doing on the ground, and the extensive way in which we are helping. We are proud to have announced £100 million of support for this year, and we are the second largest donor.