Forced Displacement in Africa — [Mr Nigel Evans in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 1:30 pm on 4th July 2019.

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Photo of Stephen Twigg Stephen Twigg Chair, International Development Committee 1:30 pm, 4th July 2019

The focus of this inquiry was east Africa, because we felt that it merited specific attention. However, in the previous Parliament our first report was on the Syrian refugee crisis, and one of the things that we highlighted was that Christians, and indeed some other minorities, faced particular challenges in the context of that crisis. The hon. Gentleman mentioned Nigeria; I will say something about north-east Nigeria in a moment, but he is absolutely right to say that Christians and a number of other minorities face particular challenges when it comes to displacement. It is very important that that is addressed, and I hope the Minister will feel able to respond to the important point that the hon. Gentleman has made.

I get it when DFID says it is determined that support should be based on vulnerability, but we need to be able to assess whether the funding being allocated is enough, particularly to reach the most marginalised internally displaced people. There are around 13 million such people, often living on the fringes of society in some of Africa’s poorest, often conflict-afflicted countries, and the number is going up. In 2017 the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre recorded more than 8 million new displacements, with more than half of all new conflict displacement taking place in the region, including more than 2.2 million in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and almost 2 million in South Sudan. I have privately expressed real concern to the Minister—I put it on record today—about reports of what is happening now in north-east Nigeria. More than 825,000 people there are described as being beyond the reach of aid.

IDPs are some of the most vulnerable people in the world, yet they remain largely forgotten in these debates; they do not have the same protections under international law as refugees and they were not included in the refugee compact. Providing support to IDPs, whose care remains the responsibility of their own Governments, is a complex policy challenge. Christian Aid told us that

“75% of IDPs do not live in camps, yet camps receive the majority of funding for IDPs.”