Middle East Peace, Security and Development and UNRWA

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 4:17 pm on 15th June 2022.

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Photo of Vicky Ford Vicky Ford Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office) 4:17 pm, 15th June 2022

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairship, Ms McVey. I am grateful to Sarah Champion for securing the debate, and for the work that she does as Chair of her important Committee. I thank her and other hon. Members, who have made insightful contributions. I will try to respond to as many of the points raised as possible.

The UK and the Government are long-standing supporters of UNRWA, and value the vital role it plays as a humanitarian service and a stabilising force in the region. In 2021, we provided the agency with over £27 million of support, including £4.9 million to the flash appeal that it launched following the Gaza conflict in May. Our annual contribution helps UNRWA to provide education to more than 530,000 children every year, and helps 3.5 million Palestinian refugees to access critical health services. Our support to the flash appeal for Gaza helped to promote life-saving aid in the aftermath of the conflict. We recognise that UNRWA needs to be on a more secure financial footing to ensure that Palestinian refugees’ basic needs continue to be met, and that it can play a full role in supporting regional stability. We are working with UNRWA, other donors and host countries to help ensure its sustainability in the years to come.

Gareth Thomas asked whether there would be a pledging conference. The UK will be supporting and attending the pledging conference in New York on 23 June, which is a week tomorrow. I cannot say any more in advance of that, but I know that hon. Members will all be pleased to hear that we will be there, and we are encouraging other donors to step up.