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

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 2:31 pm on 4th July 2019.

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Photo of Harriett Baldwin Harriett Baldwin Minister of State (Department for International Development) (Jointly with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office), Minister of State (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) (Joint with the Department for International Development) 2:31 pm, 4th July 2019

I know that the hon. Gentleman’s recommendation was for a specific quota. From 2020 onwards, rather than focusing on a particular country, that is widened to one global scheme, without specific target numbers for particular areas. That widens things geographically and addresses some of what he is looking for.

On Libya, at the United Nations Security Council yesterday, we tried to get condemnation for the attack on the detention centre, as Members will have seen. I want to say for the record that neither the UK Government nor the European Union fund Libyan detention centres—there is sometimes the allegation that we do. We fund humanitarian programmes, and with humanitarian programmes, the principle of doing no harm is observed. I want to reassure Members that we properly apply risk assessment mitigation and monitoring to all the programming in Libya.

On the debt versus grant point, the vast majority of what we do is through grants, so we do a lot of grant funding. The World Bank programme is additional. It is debt-financing and it is extremely concessional, but it is a welcome additional layer of support, coming on top of the grant funding that we already do.

I pay tribute to the wonderful Scotland-Malawi partnership. It was great to hear about the specific work to help girls to stay in school. When I was in Malawi, I met some of the young women who walk miles every day to go to school, and miles again at the end of the day, who were thoroughly enjoying being able to stay in school for so much longer. I will take back the point that the hon. Member for Aberdeen North raised about the wording on women returning “wealthy from prostitution” on Government websites. I will look into that and see if we can get it erased.

Alex Norris spoke of how climate change is exacerbating the situation. It is doing so in the Lake Chad basin, which has been dramatically reduced. It is clearly exacerbating the movement between herders and pastoralists in central Nigeria, which has been an area of terrible conflict, and other things across the whole of the Sahel—Darfur was also mentioned. That is why we are stepping up what we are doing not only on climate, but also in the Sahel. There is more that we can do on the use of things we have invented, such as more drought-resistant millet, and there are different interventions with trees that can make a difference. There is always scope for us to scale up what we are doing to tackle these issues.

The Grand Bargain was mentioned. We have committed to do more through medium-term funding and funding that is not earmarked for specific projects, and that is meeting our side of the Grand Bargain.

I cannot say who is going to go in December, but there will be good UK representation. I have also noted down voluntary returns—the UK position will always be that all returns for refugees should be voluntary.

I think I have touched on all the recommendations and on the cases where we did not agree with the recommendations. I hope I have clarified the position on refugees having immediate access to the labour market in the UK, I hope I have highlighted the offer that we have made for the post-2020 refugee resettlement offer, which is an increase, and I hope that we can all agree, as politicians, that this is about balance. Were we to do what the German Chancellor did a few years ago, I think that might very well undermine the welcome that refugees across the UK get as part of this resettlement scheme. There is certainly a really strong welcome across my constituency, and I hope that is the same in other hon. Members’ constituencies. It is about balance and also not creating incentives for people to risk their lives through irregular migration routes.

The overarching strategic framework, which hon. Members asked about, is obviously the sustainable development goals. It is about peace and making sure that we work to resolve conflict. It is about people and making sure that their human capital is developed. It is about making sure that we save our planet. It is about making sure that we work in partnership with all the organisations mentioned, including Education Cannot Wait—I give a shout-out to the global fund for education in emergencies, which is hosted by UNICEF, as we often fund through that as well. It is about prosperity and making sure that the progress that the world has made on reducing extreme poverty continues into the future.

I assure hon. Members that these are important issues that are at the heart of the Department for International Development’s work. Through the global compact for migration and the global compact on refugees, we have a global framework to work together on; it is cohesive and forms a good, forward-leaning framework. The UK can be very proud of what we are doing. We do more than just practise what we preach; we also help others and we can all be very proud of that.

I conclude by thanking the Select Committee for its report, and we will get on with implementing the recommendations we accept.