British Embassy: Port-au-Prince

Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office – in the House of Commons at on 30 April 2024.

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Photo of Fabian Hamilton Fabian Hamilton Labour, Leeds North East

What steps his Department is taking to support the welfare of staff in the British embassy in Port-au-Prince.

Photo of David Rutley David Rutley Assistant Whip (HM Treasury), Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)

The safety of our staff is paramount, and a decision was taken in November 2019 to move the last UK base staff member in Haiti to the neighbouring Dominican Republic. The security situation since has not allowed us to consider returning permanently. We have two country-based staff members in Haiti’s capital, who we are in constant contact with. They are working from home and there are no specific threats to them based on them working for the UK.

Photo of Fabian Hamilton Fabian Hamilton Labour, Leeds North East

When Haiti’s transitional council was sworn in last week, the location of the ceremony had to be changed owing to gunfire erupting from nearby criminal gang outposts—a stark reminder that Haiti is a country far from political legitimacy. What steps are the Government taking to assist the transitional council in order to ensure that a new President is democratically elected in 2026 and that we do not see them targeted with violence in the meantime?

Photo of David Rutley David Rutley Assistant Whip (HM Treasury), Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)

We are working closely with international partners, including the United States, Canada and, very importantly, CARICOM—the Caribbean

Community—and of course we are also working incredibly hard to ensure that we provide every support we can for the multinational security support mission. The Foreign Secretary has already pledged funds for our support for that important mission.

Photo of Stephen Metcalfe Stephen Metcalfe Conservative, South Basildon and East Thurrock

I welcome the UK’s £5 million commitment towards the deployment of the multinational security support mission in Haiti. Will my hon. Friend tell the House a little more about how that mission is being deployed, and can he expand on the discussions that he has had with our friends in the Dominican Republic about their security on the border with Haiti?

Photo of David Rutley David Rutley Assistant Whip (HM Treasury), Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)

I thank my hon. Friend for his important question about the Dominican Republic. I was there at the end of March and met President Abinader. We talked about the situation and the importance of the MSS. Clearly, the Kenyans will need to decide how they move forward, but as has been said, the putting in place of the transitional presidential council was an important moment.

Photo of Anna McMorrin Anna McMorrin Labour, Cardiff North

Half of Haiti’s population is starving, violence is rife, dead bodies lie forgotten on the street. For too long this crisis has been ignored. As the Minister knows, that grave situation risks also destabilising the wider Caribbean region, including our overseas territories, with the Turks and Caicos islands less than 200 miles away. Can the Minister confirm the UK’s donation to the UN fund—the Government missed that out of their statement—and lay out what other diplomatic support the Government are offering to address the crisis?

Photo of David Rutley David Rutley Assistant Whip (HM Treasury), Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)

Most importantly, beyond the other things that I have mentioned, we are working closely with the UN Security Council, which is a vital forum here, and we continue to work with like-minded countries to help with the establishment of the MSS. The hon. Lady rightly highlights the importance of humanitarian support. We are one of the major donors to the UN central emergency response fund, and there has been an authorisation of disbursement of $12 million to support those affected.