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Venezuela: Humanitarian Support

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

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Photo of Peter Bottomley Peter Bottomley Conservative, Worthing West

What humanitarian support his Department is providing to Venezuelan people in (a) Venezuela and (b) neighbouring countries.

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

The humanitarian crisis in Venezuela is absolutely dire, with millions fleeing the Maduro regime. Last week, I announced an additional £30 million of vital humanitarian aid to deliver life-saving medicines and clean water, as well as support for vital health services for refugees in neighbouring countries.

Photo of Peter Bottomley Peter Bottomley Conservative, Worthing West

Everyone will be glad that we are doing what we can to help. Would it be a good idea if party leaders together nominated members of the Youth Parliament to go and see what has caused this social, economic, humanitarian and political crisis in a country that should be the richest on its continent?

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

My hon. Friend makes an important point. Inflation is running at over 1 million per cent. in Venezuela and poverty has doubled. That is the economic model and regime that the Leader of the Opposition has been defending over a long period. People will know that Venezuela serves as a grim reminder of what might happen to the economy of our country and, indeed, the aid budget should the Opposition ever get their hands near government.

Photo of John Bercow John Bercow Speaker of the House of Commons, Chair, Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission, Chair, Speaker's Committee for the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, Chair, Commons Reference Group on Representation and Inclusion Committee

I welcome the invocation of the United Kingdom Youth Parliament, which, for the benefit of observers, customarily sits annually in the Chamber on a non-sitting Friday. A sitting is due to take place next month. It is a magnificent organisation that deserves the support of every one of us.

Photo of Lloyd Russell-Moyle Lloyd Russell-Moyle Labour/Co-operative, Brighton, Kemptown

Until the Venezuelan Government were destabilised, HIV treatment was successful and deaths from AIDS were decreasing. Since destabilisation, HIV treatment is almost impossible for many people in Venezuela and the healthcare system has collapsed. What are the Government doing, particularly to ensure that antiretrovirals reach HIV-positive people in Venezuela?

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

The reason that the healthcare system and, indeed, public services have collapsed is the Maduro regime; that is something we have to acknowledge. As I have said, the support that we are providing includes healthcare support. There has been a big increase in disease outbreaks over recent periods, and that is why we are providing support for healthcare and vaccinations.

Photo of Philip Hollobone Philip Hollobone Conservative, Kettering

How much are the UK Government giving to the UN central emergency response fund, and how much is that fund giving to the Venezuelan crisis?

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

We have given about £2 million of support to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and to national societies. In terms of additional funds that we have made available, we do not discuss the value of programmes inside Venezuela or name partners, for security reasons. I hope that my hon. Friend will understand that.

Photo of Gregory Campbell Gregory Campbell Shadow DUP Spokesperson (International Development), Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Cabinet Office)

Given the extent of the problem, the millions of people fleeing Venezuela and the amount that the Minister has alluded to, what steps are we taking to ensure that that aid is offered directly to the people affected and not diverted by the regime?

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

The hon. Gentleman raises an important point. We have a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to fraud, and we have robust controls against diversion. I can tell him that we have due diligence assessments in place to monitor the spending in Venezuela.