Palestine Refugees

Oral Answers to Questions — International Development – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 21st November 2018.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Layla Moran Layla Moran Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Education) 12:00 am, 21st November 2018

What recent representations her Department has made to the (a) EU and (b) World Bank on funding for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine refugees in the near east.

Photo of Alistair Burt Alistair Burt 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 UK has made official-level representations to the EU and World Bank over the past three months on the position of UNRWA. We will continue to work with UNRWA and our international partners to help ensure essential services are maintained, despite the United States’ withdrawal of funding.

Photo of Layla Moran Layla Moran Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Education)

Given that President Trump can now in no way be considered an honest broker in this matter, is it not time that Britain stepped up to the plate and led? Will the Government consider hosting a donor conference to make up the shortfall in funding? Further, will they support my Palestinian statehood Bill, which I will be introducing to the House later today?

Photo of Alistair Burt Alistair Burt 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)

On the hon. Lady’s second point, she will be aware that the recognition of Palestine remains a matter for the United Kingdom’s judgment in the best interests of peace and the peace process, and we hold to that. On support for UNRWA, we continue to work with other donors and urge them to step in to assist in filling the gap in funding. We have done that with other states and we are doing that with the EU and the World Bank. We will continue to do so. We have increased our contribution this year to £57.5 million to help vulnerable Palestinians in relation to health and education. We will continue to support UNRWA.

Photo of Stephen Crabb Stephen Crabb Conservative, Preseli Pembrokeshire

In June last year, UNRWA discovered a major terrorist tunnel under two of its schools in Gaza. What support can the UK give to UNRWA to ensure that its neutrality is not violated, and that its resources do not get misappropriated?

Photo of Alistair Burt Alistair Burt 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)

Bearing in mind UNRWA’s particular position, particularly in Gaza, we know—I have discussed this with senior directors at UNRWA—it is absolutely essential that it maintains the integrity of its operation. When others have abused that in trying to disguise schools as places where terrorist activity could be hidden, it is essential that it deals with that. We will continue to give it every support in finding that out.