asked Her Majesty's Government:
What steps they are taking in relation to the increasing number of young Iraqi women and girls who have left Iraq and are turning to prostitution in Syria.
The Government share the noble Baroness's concerns about the Iraqi girls and women who have turned to prostitution in Syria. We are assisting these women through contributions to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), which is leading the international humanitarian response to the Iraqi refugee situation. In March, the Department for International Development announced an additional £3 million contribution to the UNHCR's work with displaced Iraqis in Syria and other countries in the region. This takes its total contribution to the UNHCR to £7.75 million and its overall humanitarian contributions for Iraq to £147 million since 2003.
The UNHCR provides assistance to Iraqi refugees, including food aid and financial grants. The objective is to prevent destitution among the refugee population and avoid situations whereby young women feel forced to turn to prostitution to provide for themselves and their families. Furthermore, the UNHCR plans to expand the number and capacity of safe houses it already supports in Syria in 2008, to protect vulnerable women and children and prevent them turning to prostitution. The UNHCR is also currently exploring options for collaborating with women volunteers in areas where prostitution is particularly prevalent, to help women already in the industry.