Bishop of Coventry asks Government about humanitarian support for Iraq and Syria

On 13th October 2014 the Bishop of Coventry, Rt Rev Christopher Cocksworth received answers to written questions on Iraq and Syria. The Bishop asked Government about the UK’s involvement in offering humanitarian aid, peacebuilding and support for displaced persons.

13.10 Bishop of Coventry


Questions asked by The Lord Bishop of Coventry:

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they will take to ensure the long-term provision of humanitarian assistance for internally displaced people in Iraq.[HL1874]

Lord Wallace of Saltaire (LD): Her Majesty’s Government (HMG) has allocated £23 million to respond to the humanitarian crisis. £17.5 million of this is funding partners already working in Iraq to enable them to provide immediate life-saving assistance. HMG is also providing logistics, coordination and staffing support to the Kurdish and the UN systems to ensure long-term humanitarian provision.

The Lord Bishop of Coventry: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assistance they are providing to the authorities in Iraq to ensure that newly born children of those displaced from northern Iraq are issued with birth registration documents.[HL1876]

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: HMG provided £1 million to UNHCR in Iraq in June 2014, which included support for 4,500 families with legal assistance, protection and support to registration. UNHCR is discussing these issues with the Government of Iraq and leading work to provide legal assistance to internally displaced persons



The Lord Bishop of Coventry: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to ensure that all sides of the Syrian conflict adhere to the provisions of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2165 requiring all parties to cease indiscriminate attacks.[HL1872]

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Anelay of St Johns) (Con): We are concerned about indiscriminate attacks on civilians in Syria which contravene international law. The UK has consistently called upon all parties in the conflict to respect international law and played a leading role in initiating and securing the passing of UN Security Council Resolutions 2139 and 2165, which demand that all parties cease all attacks against civilians and comply fully with their obligations to protect civilians in armed conflict. The UN Independent Commission of Inquiry’s most recent report was clear that the Assad regime, Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant and other extremist groups, were behind the majority of such attacks. On 25 September 2014, the UK and our partners secured a strong resolution at the UN Human Rights Council which demands that the Syrian authorities cooperate fully with the Commission of Inquiry.

In partnership with other donor countries, we have funded the collection of documentary evidence of human rights abuses to allow those responsible to be held accountable. We have also funded Law of Armed Conflict training to help armed groups understand their responsibilities and obligations under international law and international human rights standards. We welcome the commitment of the Syrian National Coalition and associated moderate armed groups to abide by these standards.

The Lord Bishop of Coventry: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what percentage of the £600 million they have committed to the situation in Syria has been assigned to long-term civil society projects.[HL1873]

Baroness Jolly (LD): Following the International Development Secretary’s announcement of £100 million at United Nations General Assembly, total United Kingdom funding in response to the humanitarian crisis in Syria and the region now stands at £700 million. Of this, over 50 per cent has been allocated to projects managed by non-governmental organisations. Due to the structure of our funding, the fluidity of the situation, and the resulting need for flexibility, it is not possible to give an exact breakdown of the amount assigned to such projects, however we remain committed to supporting capacity building of local civil society in the longer term.

The Lord Bishop of Coventry: To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they plan to reconsider joining the UNHCR resettlement programme for Syrian refugees.[HL1875]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Bates) (Con): The Syrian Vulnerable Persons Relocation (VPR) Scheme operates in parallel with the UNHCR’s Syria Humanitarian Admission Programme (HAP). There are no plans to reconsider joining the HAP as the VPR scheme is based on need rather than fulfilling a quota. However, we work very closely with UNHCR to identify the most vulnerable people and the scheme has their full co-operation. The VPR is relocating several hundred of the most vulnerable Syrians displaced by the conflict to the UK.

The UK is the second largest bi-lateral donor after the USA.