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Department for International Development Questions

23rd May 2018

Harriett Baldwin answers questions from MPs on the work of the Department for International Development.

Democratic Republic of the Congo: Humanitarian Assistance

Mr Jim Cunningham (Coventry South) (Lab)
6. What funding her Department has allocated to humanitarian assistance programmes in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. [905509]

The Minister of State, Department for International Development (Harriett Baldwin)
The UK is one of the leading humanitarian donors in the Democratic Republic of Congo. We have acted quickly to support the country and the World Health Organisation in tackling the Ebola outbreak; the Secretary of State today announced an extra £5 million to support the WHO response plan.

Mr Cunningham
What are the Government doing to prevent the outbreak from spreading to places such as Kinshasa?

Harriett Baldwin
The plan announced by the World Health Organisation involves making sure that we use a new, experimental vaccine that the UK has helped to develop. It is being applied to anyone who has come into contact with Ebola. Yesterday vaccinations began to be offered to health workers and to anyone who has had contact with a contact.

Stephen Crabb (Preseli Pembrokeshire) (Con)
I commend the Department’s response to the outbreak, but what assurance can the Minister give that the capacity and leadership at the WHO are stronger than they were in 2014, when it made so many mistakes in responding to an earlier outbreak?

Harriett Baldwin
I pay tribute to Jane Ellison, who is now very much involved in that. As my right hon. Friend will know, there has been an extensive programme of work to learn lessons from the outbreak in Sierra Leone, and, indeed, this is the ninth outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo. On every occasion lessons are learnt, and we are helping the WHO and the Government to deliver on them.

Preet Kaur Gill (Birmingham, Edgbaston) (Lab/Co-op)
In the light of the DRC Government’s decision to boycott the April humanitarian pledging conference in Geneva and to deny the scale of the displacement crisis in the country, what representations has the Secretary of State made, now that Ebola poses a very real additional threat, to ensure that the same does not happen again, and that the DRC Government accept urgent assistance to prevent an international health emergency?

Harriett Baldwin
The hon. Lady is right to highlight the wider humanitarian crisis in the DRC. I was there myself last month to see the fantastic work that UK aid workers are doing on the ground, and the extensive way in which we are helping. We are proud to have announced £100 million of support for this year, and we are the second largest donor.


Topical Questions

Mr Laurence Robertson (Tewkesbury) (Con)
T6. Will the Minister update the House on the food security situation in east Africa and let us know what help the Government are able to provide? [905524]

The Minister of State, Department for International Development (Harriett Baldwin)

I pay tribute to my hon. Friend for his work as chair of the all-party group on Ethiopia and Djibouti and I assure him that the UK has provided assistance to more than 13.6 million people in east Africa and allocated £279 million in humanitarian aid to those countries this year.


Zac Goldsmith (Richmond Park) (Con)
The horn of Africa has been hit by a devastating tropical cyclone and Somaliland has been particularly hard-hit, with devastation to lives and livelihoods. Somaliland is already a progressive democratic country in an otherwise very troubled part of the world and, as a former British protectorate, it has strong ties to the UK, but because we do not formally recognise Somaliland, any aid we provide must pass through Somalia, which is much less stable. Will my hon. Friend reconsider that policy and consider working directly through Somaliland?

Harriett Baldwin
I invite my hon. Friend to the meeting of the all-party group on Somaliland later today.


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