24th July 2018

Andrew Mitchell seeks assurances from the Government that the UK will seek assistance for the hundreds and thousands of people caught up in the looming crisis in Idlib.

Thank you, Mr Speaker, for granting this urgent question, which the hon. Member for Wirral South (Alison McGovern) so eloquently set out.

It is clear that there is a further catastrophe looming for the millions of people who live in Idlib. As the Minister said, the UK Government have the outstanding record on supporting those caught up in this catastrophe through humanitarian relief. Will the Minister assure the House that, with others, he will continue to liaise and seek assistance not only for the hundreds of thousands of brave people caught up in this looming crisis, but in particular for the many very brave humanitarian workers and actors who have often put their lives on the line to support those caught up in this situation? As with the work done with the Israeli Government, they urgently need to be able to rely on the international community to help them specifically in the coming days and weeks.

My right hon. Friend is absolutely right. He of course was at the forefront of the initial aid effort in Syria, when he was Secretary of State for International Development and I was his hard-worked minion in that Department, at the beginning of the conflict. He is absolutely right that we have to maintain access for humanitarian efforts. We have so far committed £2.71 billion in response to this crisis. We have provided over 27 million food rations, 12 million medical consultations, 10 million relief packages and over 10 million vaccines. We are going to continue with our efforts. At the Brussels conference in April, we pledged to provide at least £450 million this year and a further £300 million next year to help to alleviate the extreme suffering in Syria and to provide vital support to neighbouring countries, which have taken up so much of the consequential effects of this horrid conflict.