We need your support to keep TheyWorkForYou running and make sure people across the UK can continue to hold their elected representatives to account.

Donate to our crowdfunder

Forced Migration

Oral Answers to Questions — International Development – in the House of Commons on 2nd October 2019.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Thangam Debbonaire Thangam Debbonaire Opposition Whip (Commons)

What steps the Government are taking to help reduce the number of people who are forced to migrate.

Photo of Alok Sharma Alok Sharma The Secretary of State for International Development

The Department is investing in migrant source countries to give people better opportunities to build decent lives at home. Over the past four years, support for UK aid across all programmes has enabled 14 million children to gain a decent education, and nearly 52 million people now have access to clean water and better sanitation.

Photo of Thangam Debbonaire Thangam Debbonaire Opposition Whip (Commons)

Refugee settlement is one way to allow people to secure a safe and legal route to a safe country if they are classified as refugees by the United Nations. DFID funds and supports that, but there is no commitment to long-term resettlement programmes. Will the Secretary of State consider committing himself to a minimum of 10,000 refugees per year via resettlement and for a minimum of five years?

Photo of Alok Sharma Alok Sharma The Secretary of State for International Development

As the hon. Lady will know, in every year since 2016, the UK has resettled more refugees from outside Europe than any other EU member state, and I pay tribute to the local authorities that have already settled 16,000 refugees from Syria. The hon. Lady will also know that we intend to resettle 20,000 Syrian refugees, as well as up to 3,000 vulnerable children and their carers, by 2020. Under our new compact, there are global resettlement scheme plans to resettle 5,000 of the most vulnerable every year post 2020.

Photo of Alistair Burt Alistair Burt Independent, North East Bedfordshire

I welcome my right hon. Friend to what I think is his first session of questions as Secretary of State for International Development, and I wish him—as we all do—very well in the role. May I ask him to update the House on the quality of our £75 million safety, support and solutions programme, which has been used particularly on the migration route in Africa, including north Africa? A particular feature of the programme was the ability to return those who had escaped the clutches of traffickers to their home areas, where they could warn others that the outward route was dangerous and damaging. I should be grateful for an update.

Photo of Alok Sharma Alok Sharma The Secretary of State for International Development

I pay tribute to the fantastic work that my right hon. Friend did in this Department. He was an absolute champion for DFID.

Phase 2 of the safety, support and solutions programme is now running. We are delivering humanitarian protection to vulnerable migrants en route, as well as informing people about living conditions and—as my right hon. Friend mentioned—the other risks that they may face if they travel through the Sahel or the horn of Africa. One of our partners, the International Organisation for Migration, has reached more than 4,000 people with awareness-raising activities.

Photo of Jessica Morden Jessica Morden Opposition Whip (Commons), Chair, Statutory Instruments (Joint Committee), Chair, Statutory Instruments (Select Committee)

Global food insecurity is obviously a major factor in mass migration. Will the Secretary of State update us on what his Department is doing with aid agencies in respect of the merits of integrating nutrition into all areas of work?

Photo of Alok Sharma Alok Sharma The Secretary of State for International Development

The hon. Lady has raised an incredibly important point. We are working on nutrition with a range of multilateral agencies, and my ministerial colleagues and I continue to engage in discussions with them. At the United Nations General Assembly, it was announced that £61 million would be provided to develop crops that are better adapted to grow in higher temperatures and that can withstand drought. That is the sort of work that will make a long-term difference when it comes to food insecurity.

Photo of Hugo Swire Hugo Swire Conservative, East Devon

Will my right hon. Friend update the House on the Rohingya situation and tell us what discussions he has had with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the Government in Dhaka about the situation in Cox’s Bazar?

Photo of Alok Sharma Alok Sharma The Secretary of State for International Development

My right hon. Friend did an enormous amount of work in this area as Minister for Asia, and I pay tribute to him. He will know that the major humanitarian crisis is caused by Myanmar’s military. He will also know that we recently announced the provision of an extra £87 million for food, healthcare and shelter, not just for the refugees but for those who are hosting them. The Minister in the House of Lords, Baroness Sugg, is currently in Bangladesh looking into these issues.

Photo of Stephen Twigg Stephen Twigg Chair, International Development Committee

In north-east Nigeria, almost 2 million people have been internally displaced. In a disturbing development, the Nigerian Government have closed two major international non-governmental organisations, posing a risk to thousands of lives. May I urge the Secretary of State to do all that he can to press the Nigerian Government to enable those NGOs to operate, because they are about saving lives?

Photo of Alok Sharma Alok Sharma The Secretary of State for International Development

The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right. We are extremely concerned about this issue, and we have raised it with the Nigerian Government. We have asked them to complete their investigations as swiftly as possible. He is absolutely right: those organisations provide support to millions of vulnerable people, and we must make sure that that work continues.

Photo of Henry Smith Henry Smith Conservative, Crawley

A fortnight ago, I was privileged to be in Jordan to see some of the remarkable work of small organisations helping child refugees from the Syrian civil war recover from appalling injuries. What further support can DFID give to those small NGOs that make such a positive difference?

Photo of Alok Sharma Alok Sharma The Secretary of State for International Development

As my hon. Friend will know, we have pledged almost £3 billion since 2012 to provide support in Syria and neighbouring areas. We are working with a range of NGOs, and I would be happy to meet him to discuss the individual NGOs to which he referred.

Photo of Chris Law Chris Law Shadow SNP Spokesperson (International Development)

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change stated that the greatest single impact of climate change could be on human migration. By 2050, it is forecast that up to 1 billion people could be on the move as a result of climate change. The Select Committee on International Development recommended that the UK use last week’s UN climate summit to address that, so will the Secretary of State tell us specifically what discussions he has had on this subject and what concrete actions his Departments will take?

Photo of Alok Sharma Alok Sharma The Secretary of State for International Development

The hon. Gentleman raises an important matter. The Prime Minister made a number of key announcements at the UN General Assembly, including the doubling of our investment and commitment to the international climate finance fund. That is something that we will work on, but the hon. Gentleman is right that that is a key issue. The way to tackle poverty is also to tackle climate change.

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

The world is on course to have 200 million climate refugees by 2050, so will the Secretary of State tell us why his Government continue to be part of the problem by funding fossil fuel overseas, both with the Overseas Development Administration budget and with export finance. If he wants to be part of the solution, will he commit to work with Cabinet colleagues to increase the number of refugee settlements in the UK, as recommended by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees?

Photo of Alok Sharma Alok Sharma The Secretary of State for International Development

I say gently to the hon. Lady that we are regarded as world-leading when it comes to tackling climate change. If she had been at the UN General Assembly, she would have seen that. A whole range of announcements were made there. I am always happy to have a discussion with her, but she should acknowledge that the UK is actively leading in this area across the world. That is acknowledged by Governments across the world, too.