The Bishop of Leicester received the following written answer on 15th March 2023:
The Lord Bishop of Leicester asked His Majesty’s Government whether they plan to support (1) an international pledging conference to encourage humanitarian assistance to the East Africa region, and (2) negotiations for the renewal of the Black Sea Grain Initiative.
Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park (Con): The UK is working closely with our partners to raise the profile of the crisis in East Africa to help secure a broad base of donor funding. We are considering all options on how best to do this, building on our existing life-saving aid, international partnerships and work to ensure a robust response from humanitarian and development actors.
The Bishop of St Albans tabled a question for short debate on famine in the Horn of Africa on 7th February 2023:
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: To ask His Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to alleviate the consequences of the famine in the Horn of Africa.
My Lords, it is perhaps fitting that this debate takes place on the day of the memorial service for the late Lord Chidgey, who was so passionate about all things to do with Africa and would have shared many of the concerns that I suspect are going to be talked about in our one hour together.
It is with sadness that I stand here today to address this problem, although I hope that our debate may in some small way raise awareness of what is an extraordinary tragedy unfolding before us. As many noble Lords know, this region is currently experiencing one of the longest and most severe droughts on record. This, coupled with conflict and displacement, has led to an unprecedented food and nutrition emergency affecting almost 40 million people. The UN has already said that
“Famine is at the door”
in some parts of Somalia.
We are already seeing the effects of this crisis. UNICEF estimates that up to 5.7 million children in the region require treatment for acute malnutrition, with 1.8 million already experiencing it. This famine, initially caused by climate change, has been compounded by a series of other factors, making it far worse than what we have seen before. An outbreak of locusts, described by the UN as the worst in 25 years, has ravished crops across the region. The ongoing civil wars in Ethiopia and Somalia have displaced millions and made provision of food aid even more difficult.
The Bishop of Gloucester asked a question on women’s education in sub-Saharan Africa, during a debate on government plans to combat HIV, tabled for World AIDS day on 1st December 2022:
The Lord Bishop of Gloucester: My Lords, in sub-Saharan Africa, adolescent girls and young women are three times more likely to acquire HIV than adolescent boys and men. Can the Minister say what is being done to fund programmes which help to keep girls in education, which we know reduces their vulnerability to HIV by up to 50%?
The Bishop of Coventry asked a question about the UN Sustainable Development Goals on 13th October 2022:
The Lord Bishop of Coventry: My Lords, the latest Goalkeepers report from the Gates Foundation finds that we need to speed up the pace of our progress by five times if we are to stand any chance of meeting the goals. Mindful of the noble Lord’s earlier answers, does he agree with the report’s emphasis on providing to sub-Saharan Africa and other low-income regions the necessary support and investment in agricultural R&D to provide for innovative inventions such as drought-resistant maize and short-duration rice?
The Bishop of St Albans asked a question about the government’s assessment of the famine in the Horn of Africa on 13th October 2022:
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: To ask His Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the famine in the Horn of Africa.
Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park (Con): My Lords, the crisis in east Africa continues to worsen. Drought is causing significant levels of food insecurity. Over 51 million people in the region are estimated to be facing severe food insecurity, and of particular concern is the recent data from the Bay region in Somalia projecting that famine is likely to occur this year. The UK is a major humanitarian donor to the east Africa region and UK-funded activities are making a difference and saving lives. In the financial year 2022-23, the UK intends to provide approximately £156 million in humanitarian aid across east Africa. Of this amount, nearly 50% has already been allocated to help those affected by this devastating crisis.
On 21st July 2022 the House of Lords debated the impact of the blockade of Ukrainian ports on food insecurity in developing countries. The Bishop of St Albans spoke in the debate:
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, I pay tribute to the noble Lord, Lord Alton, for his brilliant introduction to this debate. I also welcome my colleague, the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham, and congratulate him on his maiden speech. I know he has huge experience to offer to this House and will be drawing not least on the huge successes and, indeed, some of the challenges of the east Midlands, where he is based. We look forward to hearing much more from him.
Next Tuesday we will start the next Lambeth Conference. Hundreds of bishops are gathering from all round the world. They are flying into this country as we speak, including many bishops from the whole of Africa and parts of Asia, and we are going to be meeting many of these people who, in their dioceses, are facing the famine that is now ahead of us. We hope that will be an opportunity to get first-hand reports of what the challenges are and how we might be able to try to respond, to alleviate some of the terrible suffering facing our world and particularly the Horn of Africa.
On 21st July 2022 the Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham, Rt Revd Paul Williams, delivered his maiden speech in the House of Lords during Lord Alton’s debate, “that this House takes note of (1) the impact of the Russian blockade of Ukrainian ports on food insecurity in developing countries, and (2) its contribution to the danger of famine in (a) the Horn of Africa, and (b) East Africa.”
The Lord Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham (Maiden Speech): My Lords, I begin by thanking fellow Members for their gracious welcome and expressing my gratitude to the parliamentary staff and officers who have so kindly supported my introduction to the House.
It is an honour to make this maiden speech in such an important debate, which focuses so clearly on the needs of the most vulnerable: those affected by the sudden steep rise in global food prices resulting from Russia’s terrible war and blockade in Ukraine. I pay tribute to the noble Lord, Lord Alton, both for bringing this debate to the House and for his long record of campaigning advocacy on behalf of those whose suffering is too often overlooked.
The Bishop of St Albans asked a question regarding international development and volunteering on 12th July 2022:
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, over the next few days more than a 1,000 overseas Anglican bishops will be arriving here for the Lambeth Conference. There are hundreds of links of volunteers going to many of the areas of the world which we are deeply concerned about, including parts of the Horn of Africa where there is famine and locusts have had a devastating impact. People are coming from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where Ebola is such a problem; these are people who are working on the ground. We already have many volunteer programmes of medics and others going in and out. Does the FCDO intend to meet some of those people who are coming here to see how we can strengthen other forms of volunteering, as well as some of the government schemes we have had in the past?
The Bishop of St Albans received the following written answer to two questions on 11th July 2022:
The Lord Bishop of St Albans asked Her Majesty’s Government:
further to the Written Answer by Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park on 23 June (HL835), what assessment they have made of the severity of the food shortages in East Africa; and what plans they have to provide additional UK emergency aid to assist in alleviating famine conditions in that region.
further to the Written Answer by Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park on 23 June (HL835) and recent findings from Christian Aid which found that only 23 per cent of the British public are aware of the worsening humanitarian crisis in the Horn of Africa, what plans they have to increase public awareness of the ongoing famine in East Africa.
The Bishop of St Albans received the following written answer on 23rd June 2022:
The Lord Bishop of St Albans asked Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answers by Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park on 31 May (HL450 and HL451), whether the £72 million in financial aid to (1) Ethiopia, (2) Kenya, (3) Somalia, and (4) South Sudan, to combat drought, flooding and conflict was additional to the £169 million in aid allocated to those countries in 2021–22.
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