Ethiopia: Humanitarian and Political Situation — [Mr Peter Bone in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 3:55 pm on 19th January 2022.

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Photo of Laurence Robertson Laurence Robertson Conservative, Tewkesbury 3:55 pm, 19th January 2022

I thank everybody who has taken part in the debate. Each speaker has brought their own take and concerns, repeating some points but also raising new ones. It is a shame, as Jeremy Corbyn said, and where I started my speech, that for some reason there is a lack of interest in tragedies that unfold in Africa. These are human beings, and we really need to keep mentioning this in the House. We have had a number of debates, as the SNP Front-Bench spokesman, Chris Law, pointed out, and we are frustrated at seeing the situation seemingly get worse in Ethiopia—although as the Minister confirmed, there seems to be some opportunity for progress.

Will the Minister take this back to colleagues? As I said in my speech, I mean no disrespect to any Ministers, who are working hard on this, but I really think the situation is so serious that our own Prime Minister should phone Prime Minister Abiy to discuss it. The way it is going, it could get much worse, and then we really would not know how to tackle it, so I really think it is urgent enough, for the sake of only a phone call, to call Prime Minister Abiy and see what can be done.

I also regret the reduction in international development aid, as was also mentioned. It is short-sighted and unnecessary, and I look to it being restored as quickly as possible. We have an impressive record of providing aid to Ethiopia—for a while, it was our biggest aid recipient; now it is second—but I ask that the Government do everything they can to urge other countries to contribute to urging peace and in supporting the World Food Programme by providing sufficient funds for it to help, because the potential scale of the problem is unimaginable. It has been bad enough in the past, but it really is unimaginable, partly because of the conflict but also, as I mentioned, because of the drought affecting not only Ethiopia but other countries in the area.

I thank the Minister for his response. I look forward to working with him and the Minister for Africa, whom I have engaged with a number of times on this issue. I again thank all right hon. and hon. Members for taking part in the debate. We are not going away. I am glad the Minister said that the Government will not turn away. We have to get this issue sorted.

Question put and agreed to.


That this House
has considered the humanitarian and political situation in Ethiopia.