On 10th March 2015 the Bishop of St Albans, Rt Rev Alan Smith, asked a question in the House of Lords on humanitarian assistance for the people of Tikrit, Iraq. He followed it with a supplementary question to the Minister. Those exchanges, along with a transcript of all subsequent questions on the same by Peers, are below.
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: To ask Her Majesty’s Government, in the light of the statement by the United Nations that 28,000 civilians have been displaced from the city of Tikrit by the actions of Islamic State, what plans they have to increase the provision of humanitarian aid to the conflict area. Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans asks Government to step up humanitarian aid in Tikrit”
On 1st December 2014, the Bishop of Derby, the Rt Revd Alastair Redfern, received an answer to a written question on South Sudan.
The Lord Bishop of Derby: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what discussions they have had with other donor countries about the case for innovative funding arrangements to meet long-term humanitarian needs in South Sudan. [HL2868]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for International Development (Baroness Northover): The UK has led conversations with other donors on improving linkages between humanitarian and development programmes, and ways to increase self-sufficiency and resilience among populations who are in need of humanitarian assistance. With our partners we are looking to fast track and implement innovative ways to stimulate markets to address food insecurity and build livelihoods, link development programmes in health and education with humanitarian provision of these services, and improve co-ordination in-country between humanitarian and development planning and provision. Continue reading “Bishop of Derby – South Sudan (Written Answer)”
On 11th August 2014, the Bishop of Coventry, the Rt Revd Christopher Cocksworth, received answers to four written questions on the situation in Iraq. The questions were originally tabled on 28th July 2014. Further questions regarding resettlement of vulnerable groups in the UK are expected to receive answers in due course.
The Lord Bishop of Coventry: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the state of freedom of religion and belief in Iraq.
Lord Popat (Con): We are deeply concerned about the situation in Iraq including freedom of religion and belief. We condemn the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant’s (ISIL) threats to ethnic and religious minorities in Iraq, including Christian, Yezidi and Turkomen and the desecration of mosques and churches by ISIL. The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my hon. Friend the member for Bournemouth East ( Mr Ellwood), met Archbishop Athanasius of the Syriac Orthodox Church in London on 29 July and issued a statement strongly condemning the persecution of Christians and other minorities in Iraq. Our Ambassador in Baghdad has met religious representatives, including Chaldean Patriarch Luis Sako, and the Consul General in Erbil has met the Archbishop of Erbil and the Archbishop of Mosul to discuss the current situation, the needs of the Christian community, and UK humanitarian assistance to those displaced by fighting in Iraq. On Sunday 3 August, the British Chargé d‘Affaires attended a service at St George’s Anglican Church in Baghdad, joined by officials from our Embassy, to highlight the British Government’s continued support to Christians and other minorities affected by recent violence in Iraq. Continue reading “Bishop of Coventry receives answers to written questions on current situation in Iraq”
On 29th July 2014, the Bishop of St Albans, the Rt Revd Alan Smith, received an answer to a written question on humanitarian assistance in South Sudan.
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: To ask Her Majesty’s Government how they are supporting the role of churches and other civil society groups in the peace and reconciliation process in South Sudan, and in the delivery of humanitarian assistance.
Baroness Northover: The UK is one of six donors funding the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Community Security and Arms Control (CSAC) Project, which includes provision of technical support for national and community-level community reconciliation process, including working with faith-based partners. Furthermore, under the Africa Conflict Pool Programmes, the UK is funding civil society organisations to build the capacity of local populations to identify and resolve conflicts that affect them.
Through the Common Humanitarian Fund (CHF), the UK has supported work by national civil society to provide health, education, food security and livelihood, water and sanitation and mine awareness services for the most vulnerable. In addition, some United Nations agencies supported by the UK (such as the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP)) work in close collaboration with local partners. To improve basic services the UK funded Girls Education South Sudan (GESS) project is working through Episcopal Church of Sudan (ECS) in two of South Sudan’s 10 States, and the UK-led Health Pooled Fund (HPF) will support faith-based county hospitals as well as government ones.
Baroness Falkner of Margravine asked Her Majesty’s Government what assistance they have given to the people of Gaza over the last three months.
The Bishop of Wakefield asked a supplementary question:
The Lord Bishop of Wakefield: My Lords, following Egypt’s closure of the tunnels, which has already been referred to, will the Minister give an assurance that the Department for International Development will adjust its aid package accordingly, to try to address some of the terrible suffering to which we have already heard reference?
Baroness Northover: The United Kingdom and the EU are putting in a massive amount of assistance, which is much needed in Gaza for the reasons the right reverend Prelate has given. Gaza has suffered a lot from the closure of the tunnels. However, the tunnels themselves help to fund Hamas and this is an opportunity to encourage Israel to open the borders there and to support the moderate elements in Gaza. Certainly, at the moment, the international organisations are saying that the underlying causes of the problems need to be addressed. The immediate shortages are being dealt with adequately.
On 4th December 2013, the Bishop of Coventry received an answer to a written question on Syria.
The Lord Bishop of Coventry: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of Amnesty International’s report of 31 October on Growing Restrictions, Tough Conditions: The plight of those fleeing Syria to Jordan.
Baroness Northover: The Government is committed to ensuring those affected by the crisis in Syria can get assistance wherever they seek refuge. We are providing multi-year financial and technical support to neighbouring countries, and for them to keep borders open. To date the UK has allocated £105.1 million to Jordan to support refugees and host communities. DFID also recently announced £12 million of development funding over the next two years to help local Jordanian municipal governments maintain and improve public services. Neighbouring countries have been extremely generous in hosting Syrian refugees, and we urge them to continue to show that generosity by welcoming those seeking safety keep their borders open.
On 19th November 2013, Crossbench Peer Baroness Boothroyd asked Her Majesty’s Government what representations they have received relating to the creation of a humanitarian aid corridor in Syria. The Bishop of London, the Rt Revd and the Rt Hon. Richard Chartres, asked a supplementary question.
The Lord Bishop of London: My Lords, I think that everybody recognises the complexity of the situation, but just over a month ago, the UN Security Council itself called unanimously for humanitarian pauses. What contribution have Her Majesty’s Government been able to make diplomatically pursuing the possibility of more humanitarian pauses to bring relief to some of the civilians caught up in the fight?
Baroness Northover: Again, that is a case in point. The right reverend Prelate makes a good point in referring to those humanitarian pauses which were politically agreed but not delivered. That is the challenge. This is a very complex situation with many groups fighting each other, and enormous efforts are being put in—not least by UN special envoy Brahimi at the moment—to try to push forward some kind of agreement, but it is immensely difficult.
“It is not surprising that the violence and insecurity that now plagues this country has hampered the delivery of humanitarian aid. As a result, local faith groups and a few national and international NGOs are the primary responders” – Bishop of Wakefield, 18.11.13
On 18th November 2013, Conservative Peer Baroness Berridge led a short debate to ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the security and humanitarian situation in the Central African Republic and the Great Lakes region of Africa. The Bishop of Wakefield, the Rt Revd Stephen Platten, took part in the debate, focusing his remarks on the need to sanction the perpetrators of violence in the Central African Republic and the urgent need to tackle sexual violence in conflict.
The Lord Bishop of Wakefield: My Lords, I warmly congratulate the noble Baroness, Lady Berridge, for securing this debate and for introducing it with such clarity of purpose. Those of us of a certain age will remember graphically the tragedy of the Congo, going all the way back to independence itself. This was followed by the Katanga breakaway movement and the instability there, and the subsequent tragedies made the entire Great Lakes region a terrible, open wound on our common humanity. As we know, that conflict, which began all those years ago, continues in a number of countries. Continue reading “Bishop of Wakefield urges proactive response to crisis in Central African Republic”
On 18th November 2013, the Bishop of Birmingham, the Rt Revd David Urquhart, asked a question in response to a Government statement on the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting and the Philippines typhoon. The question was answered by the Leader of the House of Lords, Lord Hill of Oareford.
The Lord Bishop of Birmingham: My Lords, I thank the Government for this remarkable reminder of the generosity of the British people and DEC, and for the commitment of “HMS Daring” and other support. “HMS Daring” of course is connected with Birmingham, the most landlocked city in Britain. Perhaps I may ask the Leader of the House about not just the emergency phase, which is so important, as regards food, water and shelter, but the recovery phase in disasters such as this where we are looking for housing, infrastructure and livelihood. In looking further ahead than just the natural response to the ghastly situation, will he take into account two matters? One was raised by the Philippines climate change commissioner, Yeb Sano, at the UN Climate Change Conference in Warsaw. He said, “Typhoons such as Haiyan”— or Yolanda as it is called in the Philippines—
“and its impacts represent a sobering reminder to the international community that we cannot afford to procrastinate on climate action”,
and that the emergency response should look into the much more serious long-term effects of these kinds of climate changes. Continue reading “Bishop of Birmingham calls for long-term focus in development assistance in emergency situations”
On 7th November 2013, Baroness Cox led a short debate on what assessment Her Majesty’s Government have made of the situation in Sudan, and the implications for citizens of the Republic of South Sudan. The Bishop of Guildford, the Rt Revd Christopher Hill, took part in the debate.
The Lord Bishop of Guildford: My Lords, I completely endorse what has been said so far in this discussion. I want to raise a rather different point, but equally I want to express my distress—and, indeed, my shared anger—about the humanitarian, agrarian and political disaster about which we have been speaking.
My rather different point is a question about the implications of further destabilisation of Sudan for the country’s international neighbours. I think that that is an important point. I visit Nigeria regularly, and I am due to fly out to Abuja on Sunday. Four years ago, I was able to go to the province of Maiduguri up in the north-east. I cannot go there now, at the moment anyway, because of the political situation. Maiduguri is a long, long way from Sudan—many miles away. Nevertheless, I believe that there is a connection. Continue reading “Bishop of Guildford warns of further destabilisation if situations in Sudan and South Sudan are not resolved”