Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office – in the House of Commons on 6th September 2022.
What steps she is taking to support flood relief efforts in Pakistan.
What steps the Government are taking to help provide humanitarian support to Pakistan following recent floods.
I know that the whole House will want to join me in sending our deepest condolences to the people of Pakistan as they suffer the consequences of this devastating flooding. We in the UK stand shoulder to shoulder with our Pakistani friends and will continue to provide support as they respond to and recover from this disaster. We were one of the first countries to announce funding to respond to the humanitarian need, and we have now increased that to £16.5 million to support the flood relief efforts. The UK contribution is now 10% of the joint UN and Government of Pakistan emergency appeal.
The Minister is certainly right about expressing the feelings of the whole House, but she will recognise that, in April, the International Development Committee reported that UK aid to Pakistan had been “reduced dramatically” after the Government’s overall reduction from 0.7% to 0.5% and has been cut by much more than we are now offering. Reports today suggest that a tragedy of already massive proportions appears to be worsening as attempts to stop Manchar lake overflowing have failed. What more will the Government do to help? Will she tell her new leader that tragic events such as this underline the need to prioritise action on climate change, not marginalise it?
We are one of the largest donors of international aid in the world and we focus on prioritising those most in need. As I said, we have already contributed over 10% of the joint UN-Government of Pakistan emergency appeal. We work with countries all across the world not only on immediate needs but on long-term strategy. The longer-term consequences of this terrible tragedy will become clear, but the World Bank, of which we are one of the largest shareholders, is already looking at a long-term needs assessment to help Pakistan to recover.
The recent flooding in Pakistan has plunged the country into a humanitarian and climate emergency, leaving a third of the country under water, huge loss of life and an estimated $10 billion-worth of damage. I hope the Minister will join me in applauding the diaspora community and non-governmental organisations that have already raised over £15 million to help the victims of this monster monsoon. I ask three things of the Government. First, will they urge the International Monetary Fund to review the conditionality attached to the loans given to Pakistan? Secondly, will they reverse the 75% cut to UK aid for environmental protection programmes in Pakistan? Thirdly, what further help will they provide to rebuild infrastructure in Pakistan?
I absolutely join the hon. Gentleman in praising and thanking the British people, especially the Pakistani diaspora across the UK, for the efforts they have made to support their friends and family, and those most in need in Pakistan. We worked with the Disasters Emergency Committee to get its appeal launched at the end of the last week. The UK Government are match funding the first £5 million, but I am really pleased to have heard this morning that the appeal has already raised over £11 million from public donations. That is a huge, huge effort. My hon. Friend the noble Lord Ahmad, who covers Pakistan as part of his brief, is in daily contact with Ministers, officials and those on the ground, as well as our own diplomatic team, to ensure we focus on helping with the immediate need. I hear him about the longer-term solutions. We are involved in those discussions as well.
I welcome my hon. Friend’s comments about the diaspora and the additional £15 million. In Worcester, our mosque raised £87,000 to support Pakistan after floods in 2010 and once again it is going out of its way to raise money. What more can the Government do to amplify and magnify the contribution from British Pakistani communities?
May I thank the members of my hon. Friend’s mosque in Worcester? Members of my mosque in Chelmsford have been engaged in similar activities. I encourage those who are concerned about the flooding to continue to support the DEC appeal. The response over the past few days has been absolutely outstanding. Supporting through the DEC appeal, which has match funding from the UK Government, will ensure that water, food and other emergency needs get to where they are needed most.
As trade envoy to Pakistan, I am pleased that the Government have offered aid support to the country following last week’s tragic events. Will the Minister outline what action is being taken right now to assist the flood relief effort in Pakistan and whether there is likely to be any further welcome support in future? Will she also join me in thanking the people of Dewsbury, who have rallied around in huge numbers to support the humanitarian effort?
I absolutely join my hon. Friend in thanking the people of Dewsbury, and I thank him for his work as trade envoy in championing Pakistan. The money we are giving and the money being raised through the DEC appeal is going to people’s immediate needs: water, sanitation, shelter, protection for women and girls, and supporting people to repair their homes and maintain their livelihoods. That is why giving through the DEC appeal is the best way to get to those immediate needs. As I said, the World Bank is already looking at a needs assessment for the longer term.
Catastrophic scenes of flooding in Pakistan: 1,000 lost lives, 33 million people displaced and a third of the country under water. As we have heard today, the whole House has expressed its solidarity with the community, both there and here. In advance of COP27, will the Minister undertake to produce an urgent bilateral plan with Pakistan that looks at mitigation, loss and damage, and long-term plans to avoid this sort of climate catastrophe in future?
The flooding absolutely demonstrates how climate change is making extreme weather events more intense and more frequent. It underlines why the UK has committed to doubling the amount of climate finance that we give to support adaptation to the impacts of climate change and why the world must transition to clean energy sources as quickly as possible. That work is being led by the UK, through the COP26 President, in his endeavours to get support all across the world to tackle climate change.
Unfortunately, we now have to come to topicals—15 minutes late.