Gaza: Humanitarian Aid

Lord Green of Deddington Excerpts
Tuesday 12th March 2024

(3 months ago)

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Lord Cameron of Chipping Norton Portrait Lord Cameron of Chipping Norton (Con)
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I thank the noble Lord for his question. We completely agree that we will not have a two-state solution if the people responsible for 7 October are still running any part of Gaza. Obviously, what we would like to see is an immediate pause, the hostages released and a series of conditions put in place to make sure that the pause turns into a permanent ceasefire without a return to fighting. One of those conditions would be that the people responsible for 7 October—the leadership of Hamas—would have to leave Gaza and the terrorist infrastructure would have to be dismantled. If that did not happen through a process of negotiation, the noble Lord is no doubt right that there would be a return to fighting. That needs to be understood by people.

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Lord Green of Deddington Portrait Lord Green of Deddington (CB)
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My Lords, I thank the Foreign Secretary for his first response, which set out very clearly and practically what the Government are trying to achieve in the Middle East. The problem though is pretty clear; the problem is the Israeli Government, who are not prepared, it seems, to accept the suggestion by the UK and the United States. So will he now make it clear to the Israeli Government that their continuing pressure on Palestinians, especially on their women and children, is absolutely unacceptable and, furthermore, that it risks antagonising millions of Arabs and Muslims for years and years to come? I say that having served for many years myself in the Middle East.

Lord Cameron of Chipping Norton Portrait Lord Cameron of Chipping Norton (Con)
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I am very familiar with the noble Lord’s service in a number of our embassies in the Middle East and his long experience in that part of the world. I say to him that we have said repeatedly that Israel must abide by international humanitarian law. As the noble Lord, Lord Austin, said, Israel has a right to self-defence. Hamas fighters started this conflict by their appalling invasion and terrorist pogrom in Israel, which led to the murder of over 1,400 people—and it is worth remembering that they still hold hostages. We are more than 150 days in. If Hamas fighters wanted to end this conflict, they could do so tomorrow—they could do so today—by releasing those hostages, getting their leaders out of Gaza and laying down their weapons. They do not do that. But the noble Lord is absolutely right to make the point that we had this experience fighting terrorist insurgencies in our own country, in our own history. You have to obey the rules and obey the law; if you do not and you lower yourself to the standards of the people you are fighting against, that does not end well.

Children in Gaza

Lord Green of Deddington Excerpts
Tuesday 13th February 2024

(4 months ago)

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None Portrait Noble Lords
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No!

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Lord Cameron of Chipping Norton Portrait Lord Cameron of Chipping Norton (Con)
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I say to the noble Lord what I said yesterday in Scotland: many of the people in Rafah have already moved three, four or five times. It is not possible for them to move again. They cannot go north because they would be going back to homes that have been destroyed. They cannot go south because that would involve going into Egypt, which none of us wants to see and the Egyptians do not want. That is why it is so important that the Israelis stop and think before going ahead with any operations in Rafah.

Lord Green of Deddington Portrait Lord Green of Deddington (CB)
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My Lords, does the Foreign Secretary agree that the huge number of civilian casualties in Gaza is deeply damaging to the reputation of Israel? Will he therefore take action to promote a change of strategy by the Israelis, as well as the other measures he has mentioned? Thousands of civilians are being killed; that has to stop.

Lord Cameron of Chipping Norton Portrait Lord Cameron of Chipping Norton (Con)
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Our view from the start has been that, while Israel has a right to defend itself and the attacks on 7 October were an appalling attack on Israel—it is worth remembering that it was the biggest pogrom since the Holocaust in terms of the loss of life of Jewish people; we should not forget that—and a tragedy that it had every right to respond to and try to prevent happening again, Israel must obey international humanitarian law. Let us be clear: not only does that involve what the IDF does in terms of the way it prosecutes this war but, as Israel is the occupying power in Gaza, it has to make sure that humanitarian aid—food, water and shelter—is available to people in Gaza. If Israel does not do that, it would be a breach of international humanitarian law as well.

Worldwide Displacement of Refugees

Lord Green of Deddington Excerpts
Thursday 28th April 2022

(2 years, 1 month ago)

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Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park Portrait Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park (Con)
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I start by echoing very strongly the comments of the right reverend Prelate on the generosity of the British public. We are forging ahead as a Government, doing everything we can to ensure that our doors are open and the country is welcoming to those people fleeing violence in Ukraine as a consequence of the Russian invasion. We have two bespoke humanitarian routes for people in Ukraine. They have been announced and they respond directly to the needs and requests of the Ukrainian Government. There is no limit on the number of people who can come here as of 21 April, and more than 71,000 visas have been issued under both those schemes. The family route has been extended. It is difficult to know the numbers—no one knows them—but an estimated 100,000 Ukrainians may join their family members in the UK. Although there have been delays—there is no point pretending that there have not—it is very much the view of the Home Office and the Foreign Office that the systems are now in place to ensure the smooth functioning of the approach we set out.

Lord Green of Deddington Portrait Lord Green of Deddington (CB)
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Does the Minister agree that the wonderful response of the British public to the Ukraine crisis illustrates their willingness to help when they are sure that those concerned are genuine? Secondly, in the wider context of the review that he mentioned, will the Government include another look at the refugee convention, now many years old and facing entirely different circumstances?

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park Portrait Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park (Con)
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Again, I strongly agree with the noble Lord. Clearly there is a recognition of the acute needs of people needing to flee Ukraine for obvious reasons—likewise Afghanistan—but there is also a recognition that, often, underlying the movement of people en masse around the world is a criminal network of almost indescribable brutality and ruthlessness. That is exactly what this Government seek to undermine because, until we remove those incentives, such organisations will continue to go from strength to strength. I will convey the noble Lord’s message about the convention to the Home Office.

Afghanistan: Women and Girls

Lord Green of Deddington Excerpts
Tuesday 7th September 2021

(2 years, 9 months ago)

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Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (Con)
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My Lords, my noble friend rightly points out a particular issue. What the Taliban desire the most is international recognition; that is why it was right that we worked with France to ensure the UN Security Council resolution, so they are basically held to account for the promises they have made. I assure her that we are working directly with UN agencies on that very issue.

Lord Green of Deddington Portrait Lord Green of Deddington (CB)
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My Lords, many valid concerns have been raised, but does the Minister agree with me that a note of caution is also necessary? The Government’s pressure on the Taliban to allow all those who wish to do so to leave the country could lead to a massive outflow. Indeed, the numbers could run into millions, as they have in the past. Meanwhile, the EU and Turkey are effectively closing their borders. Will the Government focus on those for whom we have a direct responsibility as employers, and will they stick to the limit that they have announced for 20,000 over five years for any other applicants?

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (Con)
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I assure the noble Lord that we are focused very much on the priority of those who work directly with us. Of course, there are people within Afghanistan who are British nationals or are their dependants and those special cases—and that is where the Government’s priority is.

Covid-19: Syria

Lord Green of Deddington Excerpts
Thursday 29th April 2021

(3 years, 1 month ago)

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Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park Portrait Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park (Con) [V]
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My Lords, it would be a great thing if other donor countries followed our example of how much we have invested in Syria. We are investing enormous sums in an appalling humanitarian crisis. Over half the pre-war population is displaced from their homes and millions of people are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance. We have spent at least £1.96 billion to support the probably more than 5.5 million refugees in the wider region, addressing immediate humanitarian need, providing quality education to children, creating opportunities and providing shelter. We continue to support the Governments of Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey to cope with a protracted refugee presence in a whole manner of ways.

Lord Green of Deddington Portrait Lord Green of Deddington (CB) [V]
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My Lords, I have been following events in Syria for more than 50 years. The current regime can indeed be brutal, but it is no worse than any likely alternative, and it is at least firmly opposed to Islamic extremism. It defeats me what the real policy of the Government is in this, but my noble friend Lady Cox is absolutely right— all the Syrian people, whether supporters of their Government or not, are suffering severely from our sanctions, greatly exacerbated by Covid. These sanctions are not smart, so will the Government now review them? They have become inhumane, indeed shameful, in their effect.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park Portrait Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park (Con) [V]
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My Lords, our goal is simply—although the means are certainly not simple—to end the conflict in Syria. We want to do that through a negotiated political settlement. The UN-led Geneva process between the Syrian parties, mandated by UN Security Council Resolution 2254, remains the forum for reaching a lasting political settlement and UN special envoy Geir Pedersen has our full support. UK sanctions send a clear message to the regime and its supporters that we will not stand by while they continue to commit serious human rights abuses. They are designed to hold perpetrators to account and prevent those targeted entering the UK, channelling money through UK banks or profiting from our economy. They are highly targeted, surgical, forensic sanctions, designed to prevent those responsible for these atrocities benefiting in any way from access to our system here in the United Kingdom.

Hong Kong: Pro-Democracy Campaigners

Lord Green of Deddington Excerpts
Monday 19th April 2021

(3 years, 1 month ago)

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Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (Con)
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My Lords, I assure the right reverend Prelate that we are looking very closely at the operation of the BNO scheme. No apparent issues have arisen. Many BNO holders also have dual passports so their ability to travel is not limited. We continue to monitor the scheme very closely.

Lord Green of Deddington Portrait Lord Green of Deddington (CB) [V]
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My Lords, what is the Government’s assessment of the impact of these sentences on applications for their BNO scheme? They have already announced 27,000 applications in the first month but according to the small print this does not include dependants. Meanwhile, more than 300 BNO passports were issued last year, and even today we have had some noble Baronesses calling for the scheme to be expanded from 5 million to 7 million people. If, in fact, numbers run very high, will the Government seek to reduce immigration from elsewhere?

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (Con)
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My Lords, the importance of the BNO scheme is to provide access—and indeed the rights of settlement—to those who qualify. That is a principled decision from the Government and we will stand by it. On the issue of immigration, while it goes into the realms of the Home Office, we have a specific immigration policy which is now operational.

Yemen

Lord Green of Deddington Excerpts
Wednesday 10th February 2021

(3 years, 4 months ago)

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Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (Con)
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My Lords, my noble friend raises an important point about southern Yemen, but I am sure she will agree that it is a question for the Yemeni people. The position of the United Kingdom and the Security Council remains that we support the unity, sovereignty and independence of Yemen. That is why the UK supports an inclusive peace process in this respect.

Lord Green of Deddington Portrait Lord Green of Deddington (CB) [V]
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My Lords, does the Minister agree that calls for the suspension of British arms sales to Saudi Arabia are misplaced? This would not help the search for peace; it would simply encourage the Houthis to dig their heels in still further. It would also be extremely damaging to our very important relationship with Saudi Arabia, a country in which I have served twice. Finally, does he agree that the key lies in Tehran and that American diplomatic muscle will be essential?

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (Con)
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My Lords, the noble Lord speaks with experience of that region. I agree that it requires Tehran, the United States, the UN and all parties to come together to finally bring peace to Yemen.

Nagorno-Karabakh: Genocide Emergency Alert

Lord Green of Deddington Excerpts
Monday 2nd November 2020

(3 years, 7 months ago)

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Baroness Sugg Portrait Baroness Sugg (Con) [V]
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My Lords, we fully support a new ceasefire—that is indeed what we are calling for. As I said, we regret that the ceasefire conversations have not brought about a sustained ceasefire, but we continue to encourage both parties to start a ceasefire.

On hate speech, the UK works to combat intolerance and hate globally and to promote tolerance and respect. I join my noble friend in her condemnation of hate speech.

Lord Green of Deddington Portrait Lord Green of Deddington (CB) [V]
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My Lords, the noble Baroness mentioned civilians. Is the Minister aware of reports of the use of phosphorus by Azerbaijan in attacking woodlands in Karabakh? This is extremely dangerous for civilians as not only is it toxic but it would also ignite the very woodlands to which they have been forced to flee by Azerbaijani shelling of towns. Can the noble Baroness ascertain whether these reports are true? If they are, what actions might the Government take?

Baroness Sugg Portrait Baroness Sugg (Con) [V]
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My Lords, we have seen a number of reports highlighting some terrible incidents affecting civilians. We will continue to monitor that carefully. Over the weekend, we announced new UK aid support, which is directly targeted to help thousands of people who have been affected by the conflict. That support includes urgent medical supplies, food and safer shelters. It is a £1 million aid package in response to an appeal through the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Hong Kong: Human Rights

Lord Green of Deddington Excerpts
Thursday 4th June 2020

(4 years ago)

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Lord Green of Deddington Portrait Lord Green of Deddington (CB)
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My Lords, I declare an interest as president of Migration Watch. I share the widespread concern for human rights in Hong Kong which the noble Baroness, Lady Anelay, so well described.

My problem is that the Government’s response is likely to do more harm than good. They accept that their proposals could permit roughly 3 million Hong Kong citizens to come and settle in Britain. This is a huge number—a hundred times the number of Ugandan Asians admitted in the early 1970s. It would add hugely to the existing pressures on public services. For what purpose? No one believes that our Government’s response will deter Beijing. China might even welcome the departure of many of its opponents. This is not a sensible nor even viable way forward. It is time to think again. The noble Lords, Lord West and Lord Powell, have both made some interesting suggestions.

Syria

Lord Green of Deddington Excerpts
Wednesday 13th May 2020

(4 years, 1 month ago)

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Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
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Turkey is an ally and a member of NATO. I assure my noble friend that we continue to make representations about the importance—[Inaudible.]

Lord Green of Deddington Portrait Lord Green of Deddington (CB)
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My Lords, this is not a question about sanctions as a whole, but their application to food and medicine. The Minister said—if I understood him correctly on this line—that sanctions do not apply to food and medicine. However, in practice, financial sanctions are impeding the purchase of food and medicine. Will the Minister undertake to look into that and make sure that they are not accidently preventing supply of such materials to ordinary Syrians?

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
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As I have already made clear, our sanctions regime applies specifically to ensure that humanitarian support—[Inaudible]—can be taken forward and ordinary citizens receive this. I take note of what the noble Lord has said, but we are very clear—[Inaudible].