Baroness Cox Portrait

Baroness Cox

Crossbench - Life peer

Baroness Cox has no previous appointments


Scheduled Event
Tuesday 5th July 2022
14:30
Oral questions - Main Chamber
5 Jul 2022, 2:30 p.m.
Humanitarian and security situation in Nigeria
View calendar
Division Votes
Tuesday 16th November 2021
Dormant Assets Bill [HL]
voted Aye
One of 34 Crossbench Aye votes vs 9 Crossbench No votes
Tally: Ayes - 216 Noes - 195
Speeches
Wednesday 18th May 2022
Queen’s Speech
My Lords, the gracious Speech affirmed the United Kingdom’s commitment to uphold democracy and to champion security around the world. …
Written Answers
Tuesday 28th June 2022
Nurses: Vacancies
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the report by the Royal College of Nursing Nursing …
Early Day Motions
None available
Bills
Wednesday 30th June 2021
Marriage Act 1949 (Amendment) Bill [HL] 2021-22
A Bill to amend the Marriage Act 1949 to create an offence of purporting to solemnize an unregistered marriage
Tweets
None available
MP Financial Interests
None available

Division Voting information

During the current Parliamentary Session, Baroness Cox has voted in 95 divisions, and never against the majority of their Party.
View All Baroness Cox Division Votes

Debates during the 2019 Parliament

Speeches made during Parliamentary debates are recorded in Hansard. For ease of browsing we have grouped debates into individual, departmental and legislative categories.

Sparring Partners
Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (Conservative)
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
(24 debate interactions)
Baroness Sugg (Conservative)
(7 debate interactions)
Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park (Conservative)
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
(6 debate interactions)
View All Sparring Partners
Department Debates
Scotland Office
(5 debate contributions)
Ministry of Defence
(2 debate contributions)
View All Department Debates
View all Baroness Cox's debates

Commons initiatives

These initiatives were driven by Baroness Cox, and are more likely to reflect personal policy preferences.

MPs who are act as Ministers or Shadow Ministers are generally restricted from performing Commons initiatives other than Urgent Questions.


Baroness Cox has not been granted any Urgent Questions

Baroness Cox has not been granted any Adjournment Debates

7 Bills introduced by Baroness Cox


A Bill to make further provision about arbitration and mediation services and the application of equality legislation to such services; and for connected purposes.


Last Event - 2nd Reading : House Of Lords
Friday 27th January 2017
(Read Debate)

Second reading - the general debate on all aspects of the Bill - took place on 19 October.Committee stage - line by line examination of the Bill - is yet to be scheduled. A Bill to make further provision about arbitration and mediation services and the application of equality legislation to such services; to make provision about the protection of victims of domestic abuse; and for connected purposes.


Last Event - 2nd Reading: House Of Lords
Friday 19th October 2012

A Bill to amend the Marriage Act 1949 to create an offence of purporting to solemnize an unregistered marriage


Last Event - 1st Reading (Lords)
Wednesday 30th June 2021
(Read Debate)

A bill to amend the Marriage Act 1949 to create an offence of purporting to solemnize an unregistered marriage


Last Event - 1st Reading (Lords)
Monday 3rd February 2020
(Read Debate)

A Bill to make further provision about arbitration and mediation services and the application of equality legislation to such services; to make provision about the protection of victims of domestic abuse; and for connected purposes.


Last Event - 1st Reading: House Of Lords
Wednesday 11th June 2014

A Bill to make further provision about arbitration and mediation services and the application of equality legislation to such services, to make provision about the protection of victims of domestic abuse, and for connected purposes.


Last Event - 1st Reading: House Of Lords
Tuesday 14th May 2013

To make further provision about arbitration and mediation services and the application of equality legislation to such services; to make provision about the protection of victims of domestic abuse; and for connected purposes.


Last Event - 1st Reading: House Of Lords
Tuesday 7th June 2011

Baroness Cox has not co-sponsored any Bills in the current parliamentary sitting


254 Written Questions in the current parliament

(View all written questions)
Written Questions can be tabled by MPs and Lords to request specific information information on the work, policy and activities of a Government Department
2nd Dec 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord True on 30 November (HL4074), what estimate they have made of the number of British citizens currently united in religious marriages that have (1) not taken place at registered premises, or (2) been recorded as civil marriages.

The information requested falls under the remit of the UK Statistics Authority. I have, therefore, asked the Authority to respond.

Professor Sir Ian Diamond | National Statistician

10 December 2021

As National Statistician and Chief Executive of the UK Statistics Authority, I am responding to your Parliamentary Question asking, further to the Written Answer by Lord True on 30 November (HL4074), what estimate has been made of the number of British citizens currently united in religious marriages that have (1) not taken place at registered premises, or (2) been recorded as civil marriages (HL4637).

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) is responsible for publishing marriage statistics for England and Wales. The most recent year for which marriage statistics are available is for 2018 [1]. National Records Scotland (NRS) and Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) are responsible for publishing marriage statistics for marriages registered in Scotland and Northern Ireland respectively.

Information about the nationality of individuals is not collected during the marriage registration process. Some information about the nationality of individuals is reported to the General Register Office (GRO) at the marriage notification stage. This information is not provided to the ONS as we only receive marriage registrations data from GRO.

An annual breakdown of the number of religious marriages and civil marriages which took place in England and Wales is available. It is not possible to determine from marriage registrations data if some religious marriages took place at unregistered premises as this information is not recorded during the registration process. It is also not possible to determine how many civil marriages may have been undertaken in accordance with the rites and ceremonies of certain religious denominations prior to having a civil ceremony.

Table 1 provides the total number of religious marriages and civil religious registered in England and Wales for each year for the period 2008 to 2018.

Yours sincerely,

Professor Sir Ian Diamond

1 https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/birthsdeathsandmarriages/marriagecohabitationandcivilpartnerships/datasets/marriagesinenglandandwales2013

Lord True
Minister of State (Cabinet Office)
16th Nov 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they have taken to ascertain the number of British citizens currently united in religious-only marriages.

The information requested falls under the remit of the UK Statistics Authority. I have, therefore, asked the Authority to respond.

Professor Sir Ian Diamond | National Statistician

Baroness Cox

House of Lords

London

SW1A 0PW

23 November 2021

Dear Baroness Cox,

As National Statistician and Chief Executive of the UK Statistics Authority, I am responding to your Parliamentary Question asking what steps have been taken to ascertain the number of British citizens currently united in religious-only marriages (HL4074).

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) is responsible for publishing marriage statistics for England and Wales. The most recent year for which marriage statistics are available is 20181. National Records Scotland (NRS) and Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) are responsible for publishing marriage statistics for marriages registered in Scotland and Northern Ireland respectively.

An annual breakdown of the number of religious marriages which took place in England and Wales is available. A religious marriage is defined as a marriage solemnised in certified places of worship that are registered for marriage, and is carried out in accordance with the rites and ceremonies of a religious denomination.

To provide the number of British citizens currently united in religious-only marriages would potentially require changes to the civil registration process, as information about the nationality of individuals marrying is not provided to the ONS by the General Register Office, and this information is not collected during the marriage registration process.

Table 1 provides the number of religious marriages registered in England and Wales for each year for the period 2008 to 2018. It is important to note that these counts may be an underestimate as some marriages (such as Muslim and Sikh) undertaken in accordance with the rites and ceremonies of a religious denomination, may take place at unregistered premises. Such marriages do not meet the legal requirements needed in England and Wales for a religious marriage and are recorded as civil marriages.

Yours sincerely,

Professor Sir Ian Diamond

Table 1: Number of religious marriages2 registered3 in England and Wales4, 2008 to 20185

Year

Number of religious marriages

2008

78,498

2009

76,493

2010

78,128

2011

74,452

2012

79,473

2013

68,600

2014

68,051

2015

62,658

2016

60,069

2017

54,346

2018

48,181

Source: Office for National Statistics

1 https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/birthsdeathsandmarriages/marriagecohabitationandcivilpartnerships/datasets/marriagesinenglandandwales2013

2 Marriage statistics are derived from information recorded when marriages are registered as part of civil registration, a legal requirement.

3 Figures include opposite-sex and same-sex marriages registered in England and Wales.

4 Figures exclude marriages to residents of England and Wales that took place abroad.

5 The latest marriage statistics available for are for 2018. It is currently only possible to publish final annual marriage statistics around 26 months after the end of the reference year due to delays in the submission of marriage entries by the clergy and registrars.

Lord True
Minister of State (Cabinet Office)
22nd Apr 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many of those who have died in care homes whose death certificate mentioned COVID-19 were (1) discharged from hospital to a care home, and (2) admitted to a care home from their residential address.

The information requested falls under the remit of the UK Statistics Authority. I have therefore asked the Authority to respond.

Dear Baroness Cox,

As National Statistician and Chief Executive of the UK Statistics Authority, I am responding to your Parliamentary Question asking how many of those who have died in care homes whose death certificate mentioned COVID-19 were (1) discharged from hospital to a care home, and (2) admitted to a care home from their residential address (HL3011).

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) publishes mortality data that are compiled from information supplied when deaths are certified and registered as part of civil registration.

Table 1 below shows the number of deaths that occurred in care homes in England and Wales where COVID-19 was mentioned on the death certificate in 2020 (occurring up to week 16; the week ending 17 April 2020 and registered by 25 April). The data is broken down by place of usual residence, which is either home or care home, and the residency period. The length of residency is therefore used here as an indication of whether the individual had recently moved (within the last 6 months) into the care home, prior to their death. Please note this data is provisional.

Data identifying whether the individual had recently transferred from hospital to the care home, prior to their death, is currently unavailable.

Yours sincerely,

Professor Sir Ian Diamond

Table 1: Provisional figures on death occurrences in care homes where coronavirus (COVID-19) was mentioned on the death certificate in England and Wales and place of usual residence was home or care home[1][2][3][4]

Residency length

6 months or over

Under 6 months

Unknown

Total

Total

2,412

1,023

67

3,502

Care home

2,144

438

48

2,630

Home

268

585

19

872


Source: ONS

[1]Deaths of non-residents are included in the England and Wales total.

[2]Figures based on date a death occurred rather than registered. There is sometimes a delay in registering deaths, more information can be found in our registration delay release.

[3]Care homes include homes from the chronic sick; nursing homes; homes for people with mental health problems and non-NHS multi-function sites.

[4]These figures are calculated using the most up-to-date data we have available to get the most accurate estimates. Therefore it is based on deaths registered up to 25 April

Lord True
Minister of State (Cabinet Office)
11th May 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what action they are taking to support UNESCO's proposal of a mission to take stock of the situation regarding cultural properties in and around Nagorno-Karabakh.

As signatories to the Hague Convention of 1954 for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict, the UK supports the work of UNESCO in working with the relevant authorities in Armenia and Azerbaijan to protect cultural properties at risk in Nagorno-Karabakh. We support the work of the Minsk Group and hope UNESCO- appointed inspectors will be given unfettered access to ensure the effective safeguarding of the region’s heritage. The Minister for European Neighbourhood and the Americas at the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office has emphasised the importance of protecting all cultural heritage sites to both the Armenian and Azerbaijani Governments.


Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
2nd Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, in developing their COVID-19 recovery strategy, what assessment they have made of the risks of cross-infection through outdoor education activities compared to activities delivered by the rest of the hospitality sector; and what assessment they have made of whether the outdoor education sector should be reopened as part of phase two of the recovery strategy.

We will look at opening outdoor education activities along with the wider hospitality sector in Step 3 of the government’s recovery strategy, currently planned for 4 July. This will be subject to the further scientific advice and the latest risk assessment at the time.

My Department has launched the Cultural Renewal Taskforce to help our sectors’ businesses prepare to reopen when it is safe to do so. Within this taskforce, we have set up a Visitor Economy Working Group to specifically focus on the practicalities and guidelines for restarting tourism activity during the recovery period. We remain in regular contact with outdoor hospitality stakeholders.

The Department for Education is currently advising that professional outdoor education and adventure holiday providers that would usually offer activities for schools and/or summer holiday activities to children should remain closed for the time being.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
2nd Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have, if any, to reverse their decision to cap the funding of the National FGM Centre.

Female genital mutilation (FGM) is abuse and we want to eradicate this practice once and for all. Between 2015-2020, the department made available over £3.5 million from the Children’s Social Care Innovation Programme to Barnardo’s in order to establish and run the National FGM Centre. The department’s Innovation Programme funding was time-limited with the proportion of costs reducing from year to year. The funding was intended to build capacity in the sector.

The department has committed some further funding to spread good practice and end this abuse. We have also introduced tough safeguarding laws to compel certain professionals to report if they have encountered cases of FGM in under 18s, provided funding for charities to support victims of FGM and, through our new relationships, health and sex education curriculum, we are teaching pupils about the emotional and physical damage of FGM in an age-appropriate way, as well as teaching that it is a crime.

18th Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they have taken to recognise the contribution of nursing students during the COVID-19 pandemic; and what plans they have to (1) end nursing student tuition fees, and (2) reimburse current debt for all nursing students.

The government is extremely grateful to all students who chose to opt into a paid clinical placement in the NHS during this extremely difficult time. We have ensured that all students who do so are rewarded fairly for their hard work. Nursing, midwifery and allied health students who volunteered as part of the COVID-19 response have been receiving a salary and automatic NHS pension entitlement at the appropriate band. Time spent on paid placements as part of the COVID-19 response counts towards the requirement for students to complete a specified number of training hours in order to successfully complete their degrees.

Nursing students will continue to be required to pay tuition fees, and there are no plans for a specific debt write-off scheme for these students. Student loan borrowers are only required to make repayments from the April after they have finished their course, and once they are earning over the relevant repayment threshold. The amount borrowers are required to repay each week or month is linked to their income, not the interest rate or the amount borrowed. Repayments are calculated as a fixed percentage of earnings above the repayment threshold, and any outstanding debt is written off at the end of the loan term with no detriment to the borrower.

2nd Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether, as part of their COVID-19 recovery strategy, they will enable (1) professional outdoor education, and (2) adventure holiday providers, to offer appropriately distanced and planned activities (a) for schools, and (b) in the school holidays.

The government’s overriding priority remains keeping the public safe. Any steps taken as part of a phased lifting of restrictions need to be measured and guided by the science. It is for this reason that, while we have set out that primary schools can now welcome back some more of their pupils, we are advising that professional outdoor education and adventure holiday companies that would usually offer activities for schools and/ or summer holiday activities to children, should be remaining closed for the time being.

However, under the new social distancing guidelines, which allow up to, but no more than 6 people to gather outside, parents can take their children to a 1-1 outdoor coaching or training session, as long as the gathering does not exceed 6 people and social distancing is adhered to. Parents can also take their children to certain other outdoor sport and recreation activities, provided they are meeting these same social distancing requirements. Details of the types of activities included are set out in DCMS’s guidance for the public on the phased return of outdoor sport and recreation, which can be accessed here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-on-phased-return-of-sport-and-recreation/guidance-for-the-public-on-the-phased-return-of-outdoor-sport-and-recreation.

The government will keep this position under review and continue to be guided by the best scientific and medical advice to ensure that the right decisions are taken at the right time.

8th Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government how much they have contributed to the World Health Organisation's COVID-19 Response Fund.

The UK has contributed £75 million to help the WHO lead international efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19 and end the pandemic.

3rd Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government how much, in total, the UK has provided in aid funding for humanitarian assistance to Burmese Chin refugees in Malaysia and Delhi.

The UK provides humanitarian assistance to Chin refugees in Malaysia and India via the UNHCR - the UN Refugee Agency. The UK has provided UNHCR with predictable, core, unearmarked funding of £35 million per year since 2012, currently as part of a four-year (2017-2020) programme of support alongside other UN humanitarian agencies. In India and Malaysia UNHCR provides support to refugees, including ethnic Chins, comprising advocacy, legal representation, community outreach and assistance programmes.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
2nd Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the report by Amnesty International ‘We dried our tears’: Addressing the toll on children of Northeast Nigeria’s conflict, published on 27 May; and what plans they have to ensure that any UK aid programmes in Nigeria encompass (1) psychosocial support for children, and (2) gender equality initiatives.

The High Commission has advocated for and supported the handing over of all children in any form of detention to UNICEF or appropriate agencies and this has led to the release of many hundreds in recent months. We will continue to urge all parties to prioritise mitigating the effect of conflict on civilians, particularly the most vulnerable including women and children. In respect to criticisms of the rehabilitation and reintegration components of Operation Safe Corridor, including evidence of boys accessing the programme, the High Commission in Abuja is currently reassessing its support to Operation Safe Corridor in light of this report. We will need to be fully satisfied with our partners’ plans for addressing these issues in order to continue our support.

UKAid already provides a range of humanitarian and development assistance in Nigeria that supports children affected by the conflict in the northeast, including those previously detained by the Nigerian authorities, and advocacy to the Nigerian authorities to manage these facilities in accordance with domestic and international law. This includes funding partners to provide dedicated case management support to particularly vulnerable children, including unaccompanied and separated minors, where physical and psychosocial health services plus essential material needs, are supported by UKAid.

DFID is actively delivering it Strategic Vision for Women and Girls in Nigeria to promote women’s rights and gender equality. This includes increasing women’s economic empowerment, supporting women’s participation and representation in politics and civil society through governance programmes, and keeping girls in school.

18th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the relative burden falling on (1) NGOs, and (2) the Syrian government and its agencies, in managing the COVID-19 crisis in Syria, including in respect of the size of the (a) populations, and (b) geographic areas, they are supporting.

In May 2020, the UN launched an appeal of $384 million to provide a multi sector response to the COVID-19 pandemic (health and non-health sectors) across the whole of Syria. There are currently 58 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Syrian Government-controlled areas, with three deaths. There have also been unconfirmed reports of infections in North West Syria, whilst the Self Administration governing North East Syria have confirmed six cases.

The UN Special Envoy for Syria, Geir Pedersen, said on 19 May that despite these numbers, a risk of a wider spread is ever present and called for essential, sustained and impeded humanitarian access. The WHO has warned of an impending ‘explosion’ of cases and a possibly significant outbreak that will be difficult for the already weakened health system to manage after years of conflict.

We are particularly concerned for the welfare of Syrians in IDP camps, who due to poor, crowded living conditions, would be unable to maintain social distance. In areas not currently under Syrian Government control, it is essential that humanitarian access to life-saving services and humanitarian support is unhindered. This must be done in a way that does not increase the spread of the virus, including through support for renewal of the UN Security Council resolution on cross-border humanitarian assistance.

In Syria the UK is one of the leading donors supporting international efforts to deliver vital healthcare, water, sanitation and hygiene activities; all of which help to mitigate the threat posed by COVID-19. The UK is monitoring the situation closely and working with humanitarian partners inside Syria to respond to the outbreak and to sustain life-saving services.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
6th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Sugg on 4 May (HL 3012), when the review into humanitarian assistance for additional areas of Nigeria beyond the North East region will be completed.

The UK is pleased to be a leading donor in responding to the humanitarian crisis in North East Nigeria and will provide at least £60 million in humanitarian aid between April 2020 and March 2021. We review the need for humanitarian assistance on an ongoing basis to ensure that lifesaving assistance is directed towards the most vulnerable people with the acute needs. Following the confirmation of COVID-19 cases in Nigeria we have been monitoring whether there is need for UK-funded humanitarian assistance in other areas of the country. We do not currently assess that there is a need for UK-funded humanitarian assistance beyond the North East region. In the future the UK may decide to provide humanitarian assistance to other areas of Nigeria, based on lifesaving needs.

13th Mar 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, following the statement in the Written Answer by Baroness Sugg on 9 March (HL1991) that "the UK does not currently provide humanitarian assistance in the middle belt states" and further to violence in Plateau, Benue, Taraba, southern Kaduna and Bauchi since 2015, what plans they have to provide humanitarian assistance in Nigeria’s Middle Belt states.

UK humanitarian assistance is provided based on lifesaving need and supports the United Nations-led Humanitarian Response Plan which focuses on the North East states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe which have been impacted by a non-international armed conflict. However, wider DFID work operates across Nigeria to improve healthcare, education and economic development outcomes, such as the PropCom Mai-Kalfi programme which, among its other objectives, seeks to provide sustainable livelihoods for women and families through poultry vaccinations and the introduction of climate conscious improved cookstoves, which reduces the production of harmful toxic smoke.

13th Mar 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they have taken to protect civilians displaced by conflict in Nigeria’s Middle Belt states.

The Middle Belt of Nigeria, as with many other parts of the country, sees competition over land and water, which frequently leads to conflict. The UK monitors this situation closely and has strong reporting mechanisms. DFID responds as and when intervention is required. We have a broad range of programmes across the country, aimed at supporting the most vulnerable people in Nigerian society – this includes economic development and livelihoods support, and work to improve health and education service outcomes. We regularly publish updates on our programmes on DevTracker. These updates can be found here – https://devtracker.dfid.gov.uk/countries/NG/.

27th Feb 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what humanitarian assistance they are providing to internally displaced people in Nigeria’s northern and middle belt states; and what steps they have taken to protect civilians displaced by conflict in that country.

The UK is deeply concerned by the ongoing conflict in North East Nigeria and is committed to supporting the 1.9 million people who have been forced to flee their homes.

DFID is one of the largest donors to the World Food Programme's emergency operation in North East Nigeria, which provides cash and food assistance to those who have been displaced.?? We also support humanitarian partners including Action Against Hunger, the International Rescue Committee and the United Nations Children’s Fund to deliver emergency healthcare and nutrition, protection services, education to out of school children and access to lifesaving water. We will continue to flex our existing £300 million humanitarian programme to respond to conflict-related shocks and displacement.?The UK does not currently provide humanitarian assistance in the middle belt states.

To protect those at risk of attack as a result of the insecurity, the UK’s humanitarian programme includes a £16 million two-year initiative dedicated to providing support to those affected by the conflict in North East Nigeria, particularly victims of sexual and gender-based violence. DFID works with partners, the UN and NGOs to save lives, strengthen resilience, and protect civilians from attacks and violations of international law.? To improve the effectiveness of security responses and the protection of civilians in Borno state, the UK is providing up to £800,000 from October 2019 to March 2021.

24th Feb 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they will take to guarantee humanitarian access to the civilian population in Abyei.

The UK is concerned by the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Sudan and, as one of the largest humanitarian donors in the country, we are committed to assisting those in need. We welcome the Government of Sudan’s commitment to unfettered humanitarian access across the country, however we note that full humanitarian access has yet to be delivered. The UK has continued to call on PM Hamdok and the Government of Sudan to ensure this commitment is achieved. HMA and DFID officials in Khartoum have continued to engage with the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs on how we can coordinate and respond effectively to the humanitarian needs across all of Sudan, including in the Abyei region. Furthermore, senior UK officials in Juba continue to urge all parties to abide by the commitments they have made to ensure full, safe, unhindered humanitarian access throughout South Sudan.

18th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to encourage (1) trade with China, and (2) investment in the Chinese economy.

China is an important trading partner for the UK, and we are pursuing increased bilateral trade.

The Department identifies market opportunities through its dedicated trade and investment network in major cities across China, which is ready to provide advice and support to ensure UK businesses take full advantage of emerging opportunities.

The Department for International Trade (DIT) and its delivery partners provide support for UK-based companies’ outward investments in China and other jurisdictions where there is a positive impact on the UK economy.

As an open economy, we welcome foreign trade and investment, including from China, where it supports UK growth and jobs. But we will not accept investments which compromise our national security.

Lord Grimstone of Boscobel
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
12th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Grimstone of Boscobel on 23 September (HL7967), what plans they have to introduce legislation to ban the import of all goods mined, produced, or manufactured in Xinjiang, unless there is evidence that the goods were not produced using forced labour.

HM Government has serious concerns about the situation in Xinjiang, with reports of the use of forced labour. It has always been the case that where we have concerns, we raise them – as we did on this issue at the UN Human Rights Council, most recently in September.

We advise businesses with supply chain links in Xinjiang to conduct appropriate due diligence to satisfy themselves that their activities do not support, or risk being seen to be supporting, any violations or abuses of rights and responsibilities. However, we do not currently have plans to ban imports from Xinjiang.

Lord Grimstone of Boscobel
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
9th Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to prevent the import of items manufactured in factories which use forced labour of Uyghurs in China.

HM Government have serious concerns about the human rights situation in Xinjiang, with credible reports of the use of forced labour. It has always been the case that, where we have concerns, we raise them, as we did on this issue at the UN Human Rights Council in March. We will continue to monitor the situation closely.

HM Government is committed to eliminating modern slavery. The Modern Slavery Act 2015 made Britain the first country in the world to require businesses to report on how they are tackling modern slavery, including forced labour, in their operations and supply chains. Section 54 of the Act was designed to empower consumers, investors, civil society and others to scrutinise the action that businesses are taking to identify and address modern slavery in their operations and supply chains.

Lord Grimstone of Boscobel
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
8th Jun 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the report by the Royal College of Nursing Nursing Under Unsustainable Pressures: Staffing for Safe and Effective Care in the UK, published on 6 June; and what assessment they have made of any risks posed to patients' lives resulting from the "unsustainable pressure" on nursing staff due to staff shortages.

We welcome the Royal College of Nursing’s report and share its aim for a well-supported nursing workforce. While no specific assessment has been made, evidence-based decision-making on safe and effective staffing is a requirement for all National Health Service organisations. We have committed to deliver an additional 50,000 nurses and ensure the NHS can access a sustainable long-term workforce supply. In March 2022, the number of nurses has increased by more than 30,000 compared to September 2019.

Lord Kamall
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
8th Jun 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the report by the Royal College of Nursing Nursing Under Unsustainable Pressures: Staffing for Safe and Effective Care in the UK, published on 6 June, what steps they will take in response to that report's call for the Government to publish an "independently verifiable assessment of health and care workforce requirements to meet the needs of the population and address health inequalities.”

The Department commissioned Health Education England to review the long-term framework for the health and regulated social care workforce, to ensure that the right skills, values and behaviours are available to deliver high quality care. This review is nearing completion and further information will be available in due course. In addition, the Department has commissioned NHS England to develop a long term workforce plan and its conclusions will also be available in due course.

Lord Kamall
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
8th Jun 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the report by the Royal College of Nursing Nursing Under Unsustainable Pressures: Staffing for Safe and Effective Care in the UK, published on 6 June; and what steps they intend to take in response to the findings in that report that (1) 83 per cent of respondents reported there were not enough nursing staff on their last shift to meet all patient needs safely and effectively, and (2) only 25 per cent of shifts had the planned number of registered nurses.

The Government welcomes the publication of the Royal College of Nursing’s report and shares its aim of a well-supported nursing workforce. Under the Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) Regulations 2014, the Care Quality Commission ensures that providers comply with Regulation 18 on suitably qualified, skilled and experienced staff, who receive effective support, supervision and development and effectively deliver safe care which meets patients’ individual needs.

The Government has also committed to deliver 50,000 more nurses and ensure the National Health Service can access a sustainable long-term workforce supply. We are currently on schedule to meet this commitment, with 30,000 additional nurses in March 2022 compared to September 2019.

Lord Kamall
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
23rd May 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the joint report by the Humanitarian Aid Relief Trust, International Organisation for Peacebuilding and Social Justice and Christian Solidarity International Breaking Point in Central Nigeria? Terror and Mass Displacement in the Middle Belt, published in March.

We welcome this report and its recognition that the underlying drivers of violence in Nigeria's Middle Belt are complex. The Minister for Africa visited Nigeria in February 2022 and raised rising insecurity and its impact on the Nigerian people in meetings with the Vice President, Foreign Minister and several State Governors. The Minister was pleased to be able to meet with a range of interlocutors, including faith and Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) leaders, who are working towards peace in Nigeria's Middle Belt. In all these meetings, the Minister reiterated the UK's commitment to working with actors across Nigeria to address violence, protect human rights, and promote dialogue and respect between different ethnic and religious communities. We continue to encourage the Nigerian Government to take urgent action to implement long-term solutions that address the root causes of violence.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
10th May 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will provide humanitarian assistance for (1) general food and water distribution, (2) blanket supplementary feeding for children aged six to 59 months, and (3) blanket supplementary feeding for pregnant and lactating women.

The UK is committed to providing principled humanitarian assistance and supporting those in greatest need around the world, as set out in the Integrated Review. The 2021 Spending Review commits FCDO to spend £3 billion on humanitarian efforts over the next three years.

Preventing malnutrition when disasters arise is essential for saving lives and for giving those affected a better chance to become more resilient in the long term. To do this, a basic preventative package needs to be provided and targeted to populations at greatest risk (this includes adolescent girls, women and young children). This package will vary depending on the context but will likely include: (1) treatment for acute malnutrition; (2) other essential health and nutrition services for women and children; (3) Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH); (4) food assistance with specific provision for young children and pregnant / breastfeeding women. Other services might be needed to address impacts that psychological trauma and displacement can have on nutrition. This includes supporting women to breastfeed as a strategy for preventing mortality and malnutrition.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
10th May 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they have taken to address the resource constraints of major aid organisations, including the World Food Programme, operating in the Abyei Administrative Area.

The Minister for Africa is concerned at recent violence in Abyei, including reports of gender-based violence and missing children. We expressed our concerns at the violence at the UN Security Council on 21 April and underscored the continued need for the UN Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA), mandated to provide protection of civilians and facilitate delivery of humanitarian aid. Over the past year, the UN Security Council has ensured that UNISFA's mandate better equips the mission to respond quickly to security incidents and to place greater emphasis on community engagement.

We are working with the UN and the humanitarian community in Sudan and South Sudan to address humanitarian needs in Abyei. As part of this, in 2021 we contributed £27 million to the humanitarian response in Sudan via partners, including the World Food Programme. This year in South Sudan we will reach 2 million people with some form of humanitarian assistance and support 400,000 girls to access education, including in the Abyei region. We also continue to call on the Governments of Sudan and South Sudan to allow humanitarian actors to deliver aid to those in need in all parts of Abyei, without hindrance.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
10th May 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of reports of recent incidents of (1) gender-based violence, and (2) missing children, in the Abyei Administrative Area.

The Minister for Africa is concerned at recent violence in Abyei, including reports of gender-based violence and missing children. We expressed our concerns at the violence at the UN Security Council on 21 April and underscored the continued need for the UN Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA), mandated to provide protection of civilians and facilitate delivery of humanitarian aid. Over the past year, the UN Security Council has ensured that UNISFA's mandate better equips the mission to respond quickly to security incidents and to place greater emphasis on community engagement.

We are working with the UN and the humanitarian community in Sudan and South Sudan to address humanitarian needs in Abyei. As part of this, in 2021 we contributed £27 million to the humanitarian response in Sudan via partners, including the World Food Programme. This year in South Sudan we will reach 2 million people with some form of humanitarian assistance and support 400,000 girls to access education, including in the Abyei region. We also continue to call on the Governments of Sudan and South Sudan to allow humanitarian actors to deliver aid to those in need in all parts of Abyei, without hindrance.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
10th May 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the escalation of conflict in the Abyei Administrative Area since March.

The Minister for Africa is concerned at recent violence in Abyei, including reports of gender-based violence and missing children. We expressed our concerns at the violence at the UN Security Council on 21 April and underscored the continued need for the UN Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA), mandated to provide protection of civilians and facilitate delivery of humanitarian aid. Over the past year, the UN Security Council has ensured that UNISFA's mandate better equips the mission to respond quickly to security incidents and to place greater emphasis on community engagement.

We are working with the UN and the humanitarian community in Sudan and South Sudan to address humanitarian needs in Abyei. As part of this, in 2021 we contributed £27 million to the humanitarian response in Sudan via partners, including the World Food Programme. This year in South Sudan we will reach 2 million people with some form of humanitarian assistance and support 400,000 girls to access education, including in the Abyei region. We also continue to call on the Governments of Sudan and South Sudan to allow humanitarian actors to deliver aid to those in need in all parts of Abyei, without hindrance.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
22nd Apr 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what estimate they have made, if any, of the number of displaced people in Nigeria's central states.

It has not proved possible to respond to this question in the time available before Prorogation. Ministers will correspond directly with the Member.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
22nd Apr 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government when the North East Nigeria Transition to Development Programme will end; whether it will be renewed; and whether it will be expanded to include humanitarian assistance to the Middle Belt.

It has not proved possible to respond to this question in the time available before Prorogation. Ministers will correspond directly with the Member.
Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
22nd Apr 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park on 7 April (HL7377), how much UK development aid has been provided to (1) Christian Aid, and (2) the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development, to support communities displaced due to intercommunal violence in Kaduna State in 2020.

It has not proved possible to respond to this question in the time available before Prorogation. Ministers will correspond directly with the Member.
Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
28th Mar 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park on 24 March 2022 (HL7051), which (1) communities, (2) organisations, and (3) other beneficiaries, they have supported in the Middle-Belt since January 2021 to address the ongoing humanitarian situation in Nigeria.

The UK Government remains concerned by the humanitarian situation in Nigeria, and we continue to encourage the Nigerian Government to take urgent action to protect communities at risk of conflict and crisis, and to implement long-term solutions that address the root causes of insecurity. For example, our governance programme, PERL (Partnership to Engage, Reform and Learn) has been working in Kaduna state for more than five years to promote good governance, accountability and basic service delivery to citizens. In addition, the UK funded Christian Aid and the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development to support communities which were displaced due to intercommunal violence in Kaduna State during 2020. This supported more than 15,000 displaced people with cash grants to address food security needs, provision of water and sanitation kits and other non-food items.

As outlined in the United Nations-led Humanitarian Response Plan, the largest humanitarian crisis in Nigeria is concentrated in the North-East. The UK Government's humanitarian support consequently focuses on addressing humanitarian needs in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe States and is primarily delivered through our 5-year NENTAD programme (£425 million, 2017-2022). The FCDO publishes information about current funding on the Development Tracker website.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
28th Mar 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what proportion of UK aid to Nigeria has been spent in the Middle-Belt since 2015.

Between financial years 2014-15 and 2020-21, approximately 11 percent of UK bilateral aid to Nigeria through legacy Department for International Development (DFID), legacy Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), and the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) has been spent in Nigeria's Middle Belt. This percentage is an estimate, covering only bilateral UK spend funded by DFID and FCDO between 2014 and 2020 and does not reflect the totality of all UK aid spent through centrally managed programmes, multilaterals and other government departments.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
17th Mar 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking in response to the humanitarian and security situation in Nigeria.

The UK Government is committed to working with Nigeria to respond to the causes and consequences of conflict in Nigeria. At our recent Security and Defence Dialogue, we committed to work together to respond to shared threats, support efforts to respond to rising insecurity in Nigeria, and to promote human rights for all Nigerians. During the Dialogue the Minister for Africa discussed insecurity with National Security Advisor Monguno. In addition, during her recent visit to Nigeria, she held detailed discussions with regional governors and community and religious leaders about the deteriorating security situation across the country and how the UK Government can support the response.

In North East Nigeria, we have provided £425 million of humanitarian support since 2017, which has supported up to 1.5 million people. Through our regional Conflict, Stability and Security Fund (CSSF) Lake Chad Basin programme we are also: working with the Nigerian military in support of efforts to respond to the conflict with terrorist groups; supporting stabilisation efforts with local communities; and supporting wider security sector reform. In addition to our work in the North-East, we are also working with communities in the Middle-Belt to help better respond to and manage the effects of violent conflict including supporting the reintegration of victims of conflict and survivors of sexual violence. We continue to make clear to the Nigerian authorities, at the highest levels, the importance of protecting civilians and taking action to implement long-term solutions that address the root causes of violence.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
11th Mar 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with the government of Armenia regarding works to restore the gas pipeline to Nagorno-Karabakh.

The UK Government is monitoring ongoing tensions in the region. At this time, there are no plans to provide assistance in addition to that which the UK already provides to the region. We continue to encourage the parties to engage in meaningful dialogue to resolve all matters related to the conflict.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
11th Mar 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the government of Armenia about providing additional (1) security protection, and (2) humanitarian assistance, to Armenian villages at risk of attack of the Armenia-Azerbaijan border.

The UK Government is monitoring ongoing tensions in the region. At this time, there are no plans to provide assistance in addition to that which the UK already provides to the region. We continue to encourage the parties to engage in meaningful dialogue to resolve all matters related to the conflict.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
11th Mar 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of Russia's invasion of Ukraine on the (1) humanitarian, and (2) security, situation in Nagorno-Karabakh.

The UK Government recognises that Russia's unprovoked and needless attack on Ukraine is generating significant pressures for neighbouring countries and regions. At this stage, we have made no specific assessment of the impact on the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh. We reiterate our call on the parties to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict to engage in substantive discussions with the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe Minsk Group to secure a peaceful settlement to the conflict.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
11th Mar 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the government of Azerbaijan about the importance of adhering to the terms of the Nagorno-Karabakh ceasefire agreement; and in particular, the provision that parties "shall stop at their current positions".

The UK Government continues to monitor the ongoing tensions on the border between Armenia and Azerbaijan. We have raised the importance of regional stability and security in our contacts with partners in the region, including both Armenia and Azerbaijan.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
21st Feb 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they plan formally to mark the anniversaries of the killing of Armenians in the Azerbaijani towns of (1) Sumgait in February 1988, (2) Ganja (then-Kirovabad) in November 1988, and (3) Baku in January 1990.

These were tragic episodes in the history of this region and all of its peoples. Atrocities of this kind, and others which occurred, must never take place again. The UK Government utterly condemns the targeting of civilians (which is in breach of International Humanitarian Law) and continues to make every effort to support lasting peace and stability throughout the region. We have not made plans to mark these specific anniversaries.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
4th Feb 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will reinstate the Nursing Now programme to deliver nursing and midwifery training in developing countries.

The UK government is committed to efforts to strengthen the global healthcare workforce - including through nurse and midwife training in low and lower-middle income countries - as part of a wider health systems strengthening approach. This is laid out in the FCDO's recently published Health Systems Strengthening and Ending Preventable Deaths of Mothers, Babies and Children Approach Papers. We do not have current plans to reinstate funding for the Nursing Now campaign after the seismic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the UK economy forced the Government to take tough but necessary decisions, including reducing Official Development Assistance spending from 0.7 to 0.5% of Gross National Income.

We will continue to support efforts to strengthen national healthcare workforces through our bilateral programming and our support to large multi-country programmes such as the Global Financing Facility, the World Health Organization, and our £1.4 billion contribution to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB, and Malaria (2020-2024). The Global Fund invests around $1billion per year in health systems strengthening, the majority of which supports human resources for health. The FCDO has seconded a Human Resources for Health Adviser to the Global Fund to help to maximise the impact of this significant investment.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
4th Feb 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have, if any, to provide (1) financial assistance, and (2) other support, to nurses and midwives in Myanmar.

Protecting access to basic healthcare in Myanmar remains a UK priority, and we are continuing to provide life-saving service delivery. We are working closely with civil society, media and responsible business to help strengthen community resilience.

This year the FCDO is providing £49.4 million in aid to Myanmar. 70 percent of this is for health and humanitarian. The UK is providing £11 million for the Covid-19 and broader health response in Myanmar this year, which is now being delivered through the UN, civil society and ethnic health organisations. In addition, we have provided £18 million of humanitarian assistance since the coup to meet the needs of vulnerable communities.

We are building partnerships between UK health institutions and Myanmar's doctors and nurses, to help address the health workforce crisis following the coup. We are supporting Royal Colleagues and Cambridge Global Health to ensure Myanmar's doctors and nurses have access to web-based learning materials, helping medical professionals adapt to an innovative service delivery approach in light of the coup.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
4th Feb 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they have taken to investigate means of providing (1) in-country, and (2) cross-border, humanitarian assistance to Myanmar's border states.

Meeting humanitarian needs and supporting the resilience of the most vulnerable remains our priority. We continue to provide humanitarian assistance through International Non-Governmental Organisations, the UN, Red Cross and civil society organisations to those affected by conflict and natural disasters including with food, water, hygiene and sanitation services, shelter, medical equipment, and protection for the most vulnerable especially in displacement camps.

Since the coup the FCDO has provided £49.4 million in aid to Myanmar. The UK has pledged a further $100k in Technical Assistance to support the ASEAN Humanitarian Assistance Centre in its response to the crisis in Myanmar and to support regional stability. In response to recent developments, the UK is working through partners to deliver humanitarian assistance in border regions including Chin, Karen and Kayah. As the situation unfolds, we will continue to consider all options to ensure that humanitarian aid can be delivered to those that need it.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
27th Jan 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government, with regard to the Joint Analysis of Conflict and Stability: Guidance Note, published in June 2017, when an assessment on Ethiopia was last conducted; and what is their assessment of the situation in Ethiopia, with particular reference to the mistreatment of the ethnic Tigrayan people.

HMG undertakes regular contextual analysis of the changing situation in Ethiopia, including of the drivers of conflict and the changing political settlement. This analysis, undertaken routinely by our own staff and by a broad range of external experts informs our policy and programmatic approaches.

We are deeply concerned by the growing humanitarian crisis in northern Ethiopia. The humanitarian response in Tigray is now at standstill owing to the de facto blockade of the region imposed by the Government of Ethiopia since July 2021 and also due to recent military action by Tigrinyan defence forces along the Tigray-Afar border disrupting a potential buffer zone to transfer humanitarian deliveries. The Minister for Africa raised our concerns about humanitarian access and ethnically targeted arrests with Minister Redwan in Addis Ababa on 20 January. It is vital that both sides put down their arms and come to the negotiating table. The protection of all civilians needs to be prioritised, human rights respected and those responsible for human rights abuses and violations held to account.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
27th Jan 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government, with regard to the Joint Analysis of Conflict and Stability: Guidance Note, published in June 2017, when an assessment on Nigeria was last conducted; and what is their assessment of the situation in Nigeria, with particular reference to the treatment of Christians in (1) Northern Nigeria, and (2) the Middle Belt.

The UK Government monitors the conflict trajectory in Nigeria closely. We regularly engage with a wide range of actors, including the Nigerian Government and Non-Governmental Organisations, on developments. Conflict assessments also help us to understand the conflict picture. We have commissioned conflict assessments of North West and North Central Nigeria which will be published shortly. A Joint Analysis of Conflict and Stability (JACS) assessment of North East Nigeria, including reference to the treatment of Christians, was conducted in 2018; a JACS assessment for the Delta was conducted in 2021.

We are concerned about rising insecurity across Nigeria. Insecurity in the North East, where there is an ongoing conflict involving terrorist groups, is driven by Jihadist ideology. These terrorist groups attack those of all faiths who do not subscribe to their extremist views. On the other hand, we assess the root causes of intercommunal violence in the North West and Middle Belt to frequently relate to resource competition and criminality, as well as historical and ongoing inter-communal grievances. The Minister for Africa discussed insecurity with National Security Adviser Monguno last week, during the inaugural dialogue of the UK-Nigeria Security and Defence Partnership. At the dialogue, hosted in London, the UK and Nigeria agreed on areas of future cooperation to respond to shared threats, and to support Nigeria to tackle a range of security challenges.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
27th Jan 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government, with regard to the Joint Analysis of Conflict and Stability: Guidance Note, published in June 2017, when an assessment on India was last conducted; and what is their assessment of the situation in India, with particular reference to instances of Islamophobic hate speech.

The British High Commission in New Delhi regularly assesses human rights across India. We condemn any instances of discrimination because of religion or belief, regardless of the country or faith involved. We look to India to uphold all freedoms and rights guaranteed in its strong constitution and by the international instruments to which India is a party. We engage with India on a range of human rights matters, working with Union and State Governments, and with NGOs, to build capacity and share expertise to promote human rights for all. Where we have concerns, we raise them directly with the Government of India, including at ministerial level.

Officials regularly meet religious representatives and have run projects supporting minority rights. The British High Commission supports a UK-India Interfaith Leadership Programme for a cohort of emerging Indian faith leaders, including Muslims, creating an opportunity to exchange expertise on leading modern, inclusive faith communities, and promote values of tolerance and multi-culturalism. The UK will host an international Ministerial conference on Freedom of Religion or Belief in 2022 to energise collective efforts on this agenda. We also work with the UN, OSCE, Council of Europe, G7 and other multilateral fora to promote FoRB.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
27th Jan 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government, with regard to the Joint Analysis of Conflict and Stability: Guidance Note, published in June 2017, when an assessment on Afghanistan was last conducted; and what is their assessment of the situation in Afghanistan, with particular reference to the treatment of the ethnic Hazara community.

The FCDO continues to assess and adapt its approach to Afghanistan to take account of changes on the ground and learn from our previous activity.

Hazara people, and other ethnic and religious minorities, have long faced attacks and discrimination and we are monitoring the situation closely. We are particularly concerned by reports of targeted killings and forced displacement in recent months. FCDO officials regularly raise human rights, including rights of members of minority groups, in discussions with the Taliban, including during in Oslo on 23-25 January.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
27th Jan 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government, with regard to the Joint Analysis of Conflict and Stability: Guidance Note, published in June 2017, when an assessment on Myanmar was last conducted; and what is their assessment of the situation in Myanmar, with particular reference to the alleged mass atrocity crimes committed against the Rohingya people.

The UK condemns the coup and calls for an end to violence and the restoration of democracy. We recognise the particular vulnerability of the Rohingya, and other ethnic and religious minorities, and are monitoring developments closely.

The UK finalised our Joint Analysis of Conflict and Stability in Myanmar in March 2019. The JACS provides a detailed assessment of the situation in Myanmar, including an analysis of the impact of atrocities committed against the Rohingya in 2017. The JACS recognises, in particular, the role that ethno-religious nationalism played in fuelling widespread violence against the Rohingya. These narratives remain, and are perpetuated by the military regime, leading to an ongoing risk of further atrocities against minorities.

Following the coup in Myanmar, the Myanmar JACS is currently being refreshed. The revised JACS will maintain a focus on the situation of the Rohingya, and other ethnic and religious minorities. It will also look to mainstream the UK's developing work on atrocity prevention and identity based violence in Myanmar.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
27th Jan 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government, with regard to the Joint Analysis of Conflict and Stability: Guidance Note, published in June 2017, when an assessment on China was last conducted; and what is their assessment of the situation in China, with particular reference to the alleged atrocity crimes committed against the Uyghurs in Xinjiang.

The FCDO monitors closely the human rights situation in Xinjiang. This includes regular discussion and sharing of information with international partners, close monitoring of open source research, extensive commissioning and funding of research from relevant international experts on issues of concern, and diplomatic reporting and analysis from our Embassy in Beijing and the wider FCDO network. This growing body of evidence and analysis will continue to inform FCDO and broader HMG policy in relation to Xinjiang, and underpin our robust diplomatic action and domestic policy response.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
19th Jan 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of reports of escalating Islamist violence in southeast Nigeria, including of targeted attacks against the Igbo community.

The UK Government is concerned by increasing levels of violence in South East Nigeria. On 1 November 2021, the Minister for Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean raised the issue of rising insecurity across Nigeria with Nigeria's Foreign Minister at a meeting at the COP26 summit in Glasgow. She will hold further such discussions with the Nigerian Government during the UK-Nigeria Security and Defence Dialogue this week.

We do not assess the violence in South East Nigeria to be caused by Islamist extremism, which is instead the leading cause of violence in North East Nigeria. Violent and organised criminal groups, politicised disputes and calls for separatism (since the Biafran civil war) have driven instability and violence for a number of years in the South East region. We will continue to urge and support the Nigerian Government to take urgent action to implement long-term solutions that address the root causes of the violence and bring perpetrators to justice. We also encourage constructive dialogue and reconciliation between the many ethnic and religious communities that contribute to the diversity of Nigeria.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
19th Jan 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the government of Azerbaijan concerning possible violations of the Nagorno-Karabakh Ceasefire Agreement, including reports of Azerbaijani military attacks on Armenian civilians on 2, 8, 10, and 11 January.

The UK Government, including through the British Embassies in Baku and Yerevan, and our delegation to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), continues to highlight our concern over the ongoing tensions on the border between Armenia and Azerbaijan. We are monitoring the situation closely and will continue to reiterate the importance of regional stability and security in our contacts with partners in the region. In his future engagements with representatives of the Armenian and Azerbaijani governments, the Minister for Europe will underline UK concerns and urge the parties to engage substantively, without preconditions, with the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs to find a sustainable, peaceful settlement to the conflict.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
19th Jan 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park on 17 January (HL5229), what further representations they will make to the government of Azerbaijan "to settle all outstanding matters including the peaceful negotiation of their borders" following reports of (1) three Azerbaijani attacks on Armenian civilians in Nagorno Karabakh, the Gegharkunik province and the Stepanakert-Shushi road, and (2) Azerbaijani forces firing on the Armenian position in the eastern part of the line of contact.

The UK Government, including through the British Embassies in Baku and Yerevan, and our delegation to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), continues to highlight our concern over the ongoing tensions on the border between Armenia and Azerbaijan. We are monitoring the situation closely and will continue to reiterate the importance of regional stability and security in our contacts with partners in the region. In his future engagements with representatives of the Armenian and Azerbaijani governments, the Minister for Europe will underline UK concerns and urge the parties to engage substantively, without preconditions, with the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs to find a sustainable, peaceful settlement to the conflict.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
19th Jan 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of reports of religiously-motivated torture of Christian Armenian prisoners of war by Azerbaijani military personnel.

The UK Government is aware of allegations that prisoners of war were subject to mistreatment and torture during and after the 2020 conflict. Such reports are deeply concerning. The former Minister for Europe and Americas, Wendy Morton MP, raised our concerns with the Azerbaijani and Armenian Foreign Ministers both during and after the conflict, and urged that all allegations were thoroughly investigated. In discussions with the Armenian and Azerbaijani Ambassadors in November, she also urged the parties to prioritise the return of all prisoners of war and detainees. The UK Government will continue to raise these issues and to support the efforts of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs to facilitate discussions with a view to settling all outstanding matters related to the conflict.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
10th Jan 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the massacre in Kayah State on 24 December, what plans they have to join the EU in backing an international arms embargo against Myanmar.

The UK is a longstanding supporter of an arms embargo on Myanmar, and we have had a comprehensive embargo in place for many years. The UK helped secure an EU arms embargo on Myanmar following the 2017 Rohingya crisis. Since we left the EU, we have transitioned this into domestic law.

Following the February 2021 coup, we have intensified efforts to stem the international flow of weapons reaching Myanmar, and have encouraged other countries to join this action. On 5 May, the UK secured a G7 Foreign and Development Ministers' Meeting Communiqué that committed G7 members to continue to prevent the supply of arms and technical assistance to the military. On 18 June, the UK worked to secure an unprecedented UN General Assembly Resolution, signed up to by 119 countries, which committed to preventing the flow of arms to Myanmar. On 26 November, in coordination with partners, we released a further statement which committed to preventing the flow of arms, dual-use goods and technical assistance reaching the military. We also have extensive targeted sanctions on the military and its business interests, including on multiple institutions responsible for procuring weapons from abroad. The UK will continue to work with partners, including the EU, to exert pressure on those responsible.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
10th Jan 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they will make to the government of India regarding the distribution of foreign aid donations, particularly in reference to the blocking of funds to religious charities.

We are aware that some non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have faced difficulties in India due to the application of the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) by the Indian authorities, and that some have recently had applications to renew their foreign funding licenses rejected. We continue to support a wide range of local NGO partners in India, including through programmes, and officials have discussed issues facing NGOs directly with the Indian Government. On 8 January, the Indian Ministry of Home Affairs restored the FCRA license of the Missionaries of Charity, meaning the NGO will be able to receive and use foreign funding again. The British High Commission in New Delhi will continue to monitor developments.

We engage India on the full range of human rights issues, including freedom of religion or belief, working with Union and State Governments, and NGOs, to build capacity and promote human rights for all.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
10th Jan 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the government of Azerbaijan concerning the protection of Armenian territory during the border delimitation process.

The UK Government is monitoring the situation on the Armenia-Azerbaijan border following an increase in tensions last year. Through the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe and bilateral engagement in Baku and Yerevan, UK officials continue to urge the Armenian and Azerbaijani authorities to settle all outstanding matters including the peaceful negotiation of their borders, in line with the Minsk Group Principles. The former Minister for Europe and Americas, Wendy Morton MP, met the Armenian and Azerbaijani Ambassadors to the UK in November to reinforce these messages.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
10th Jan 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to their statement on Sudan on 4 January, what steps they will take to “hold those actors impeding the democratic process accountable.”

Our statement with Troika partners (UK/Norway/US) and the EU on 4 January reinforced our support for Sudan's democratic transition. We urged the Sudanese military and other actors to engage in dialogue to secure a lasting solution to the current political crisis. We therefore welcome the UN's announcement that they will facilitate talks to help resolve the situation. The Sudan Quad (UK, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and US) released a statement on 8 January welcoming this initiative, urging all Sudanese political actors to seize this opportunity to restore the country's transition to civilian democracy.

Since the military coup of 25 October 2021 we have been clear that, along with partners, we will consider all options to maintain pressure on the Sudanese military to recommit to country's democratic transition and deliver the Sudanese people's demands for freedom, peace and justice. This includes the possibility of measures to deliver accountability such as sanctions. It is however longstanding convention not to speculate on the specifics of such options given the risk of undermining their effectiveness and, in this particular case, while UN efforts to end political crisis are underway.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
10th Jan 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of recent reports of armed attacks in (1) Yith Pabol Village in Aweil County, South Sudan, and (2) Miodol village, Rumameer County, Abyei; what assessment they have made of the likelihood of further violence; and what steps they intend to take in response.

We are concerned by recent incidents of violence and the tragic loss of life, including in Aweil and Rumameer counties. We are in touch with partners, including the UN peacekeeping missions in South Sudan (UNMISS) and in Abyei (UNISFA) to better understand these incidents and where the international community can help to reduce intercommunal tensions and conflict. In the meantime the British Embassy Juba has publicly commented expressing our concern at the incident in Aweil.

Instances of violence such as these are often driven by complex, deep rooted and overlapping causes. There is a longstanding pattern of intercommunal violence, closely linked to the unresolved status of Abyei, cattle-raiding and associated violence between the Misseriya and Dinka communities in these areas. As such we unfortunately anticipate there will be further incidents of violence until the underlying causes are addressed. We continue to press the Governments of Sudan and South Sudan to resolve the status of Abyei to help address the root causes of conflict in areas surrounding Aweil and Rumameer. This is in addition to engagement with the Government of South Sudan and other political actors to urge them to address the root causes of broader conflict in South Sudan through peacebuilding initiatives and to implement the 2018 Peace Agreement.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
5th Jan 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government which humanitarian organisations currently benefit from UK assistance in Nigeria’s Middle Belt.

We continue to encourage the Nigerian Government to take urgent action to protect those at risk of intercommunal violence across the Middle Belt and implement long-term solutions that address root causes of such violence. We are increasing our engagement with state governments in affected areas, including Plateau, Kaduna and Benue States. We are also working with the Federal Government to respond to the challenge of resource competition, one of the drivers of intercommunal violence in this region, and welcome the National Livestock Transformation Plan, implemented in eight Middle Belt states. The plan aims to promote cattle-rearing in one place, rather than the traditional nomadic practice, to limit competition over land and resources leading to violence. A number of other states have expressed interest in this plan and we are encouraging their adoption of it.

The UK Government focuses its aid investment and expertise on the highest priority issues where the UK can make the most difference and achieve maximum impact, including in some Middle Belt states in Nigeria. For example, we have supported more than 15,000 displaced people in Kaduna State with cash grants for food, water, sanitation, and other non-food items. FCDO provides support to humanitarian organisations operating throughout Nigeria, including the World Food Programme (WFP), UN Children's Fund (UNICEF), World Health Organization (WHO), Action Against Hunger, and International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). FCDO publishes information on current funding on the Development Tracker website.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
5th Jan 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon on 22 March 2021 (HL13954), what plans they have (1) to allocate Official Development Assistance (ODA) to the Middle Belt in Nigeria, and (2) to target any such ODA to those displaced by farmer-herder conflict.

We continue to encourage the Nigerian Government to take urgent action to protect those at risk of intercommunal violence across the Middle Belt and implement long-term solutions that address root causes of such violence. We are increasing our engagement with state governments in affected areas, including Plateau, Kaduna and Benue States. We are also working with the Federal Government to respond to the challenge of resource competition, one of the drivers of intercommunal violence in this region, and welcome the National Livestock Transformation Plan, implemented in eight Middle Belt states. The plan aims to promote cattle-rearing in one place, rather than the traditional nomadic practice, to limit competition over land and resources leading to violence. A number of other states have expressed interest in this plan and we are encouraging their adoption of it.

The UK Government focuses its aid investment and expertise on the highest priority issues where the UK can make the most difference and achieve maximum impact, including in some Middle Belt states in Nigeria. For example, we have supported more than 15,000 displaced people in Kaduna State with cash grants for food, water, sanitation, and other non-food items. FCDO provides support to humanitarian organisations operating throughout Nigeria, including the World Food Programme (WFP), UN Children's Fund (UNICEF), World Health Organization (WHO), Action Against Hunger, and International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). FCDO publishes information on current funding on the Development Tracker website.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
5th Jan 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the government of Nigeria about (1) the protection of freedom of speech and the press in that country, and (2) the imprisonment of journalist Luka Binniyat on 4 November 2021.

The UK Government strongly believes that the rights of individuals and independent media to express opinions and peacefully challenge authority are essential to a free and open society, and we launched our media freedom campaign in 2018 to shine a global spotlight on media freedom. We regularly meet with the Government of Nigeria and the Nigerian National Human Rights Commission to discuss media freedom. Through our engagement we advocate for the protection of the rights of journalists, and we will continue to do so. We are aware of the arrest of journalist Luka Binniyat and understand his case is ongoing. Officials at the British High Commission in Abuja are closely following developments.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
5th Jan 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the petition submitted by MyRight2Vote, Zimbabwe Human Rights Organisation, and Restoration of Human Rights Zimbabwe to the Prime Minister on 2 December 2021, what assessment they have made of the disallowance of Zimbabweans to vote in elections from outside of the country; and what representations they plan to make to the government of Zimbabwe to protect the democratic rights of its displaced peoples.

We are aware of the petition submitted by the groups MyRight2Vote, Zimbabwe Human Rights Organisation, and Restoration of Human Rights Zimbabwe. The onus is on the Government of Zimbabwe to ensure that all citizens have the ability to vote in line with the constitution, section 67 of which states that "Every Zimbabwean citizen above 18 years has the right to vote secretly in elections". However, the UK continues to urge the Zimbabwean Government to fulfil their own constitution and their commitments to reform electoral laws.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
5th Jan 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government in what ways the UK–Nigeria Security and Defence Partnership protects civilians in Nigeria’s Middle Belt, including communities vulnerable to Islamist attacks.

The Government condemns all incidents of intercommunal violence in Nigeria, including in the Middle Belt, which has a devastating impact on affected communities. Islamic extremism is a driver of conflict involving terrorist groups in the North East. The drivers of intercommunal violence elsewhere in Nigeria, including in the Middle Belt, are complex and frequently relate to competition over resources and criminality.

Through our Security and Defence partnership, we are working with the Government of Nigeria to respond to both domestic security challenges across Nigeria, and shared security threats. We are looking to refresh our partnership in the coming months to agree future cooperation to help respond to increasing insecurity across Nigeria, promote human rights and respond to shared threats, including on terrorism and serious organised crime in Nigeria.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
14th Dec 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking with (1) the government of the (a) United States, and (b) Canada, and (2) the EU, to secure Magnitsky sanctions against those responsible for human rights violations in Myanmar.

The UK has been at the forefront of the international sanctions response. Since 1 February, the UK has worked in partnership with the US, Canada and the EU, to impose sanctions on the junta. Immediately after the coup the UK used both the Global Human Rights Sanctions Regime and the Myanmar geographic regime to quickly impose sanctions. The UK laid new sanctions regulations in April to allow us to better target the military's interests. We have sanctioned the junta's ruling body and its military leadership; as well as key revenue streams for the military, including three State Owned Enterprises, a high profile business associate, the two largest military conglomerates, and defence entities which arm and equip the military. These sanctions send a strong political message in opposition to the coup and undermine the credibility of the junta. They also target the military's funding streams and show solidarity with the domestic boycott movement.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
14th Dec 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the international community, specifically the UN Security Council, to secure justice for the Rohingyas subjected to human rights violations in Myanmar.

The coup has exacerbated the situation for the Rohingya who remain in Rakhine state, increasing the risk of further atrocities. We are monitoring political and security developments closely, to ensure continued access to and protection of the Rohingya and other vulnerable and conflict-affected groups. In Rakhine state the UK has provided over £44m to all communities since 2017, including over £25m for the Rohingya for support such as nutrition and health.

The UK secured UN Security Council Press Statements on 11 March and 10 November 2021, that expressed concern over the coup's impact on the Rohingya people and the prospect of voluntary, safe and dignified return to Myanmar. I [Lord Ahmad], also raised these issues with Bangladesh State Minister Shahriah Alam on 18th February.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
14th Dec 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to prevent sexual violence being used as a weapon of war against the Rohingya population, and others, in Myanmar; and what steps they are taking to help the victims of this crime.

The UK is integrating survivor centred activities across its portfolio. Under our humanitarian programmes, partners are seeking to prevent all forms of gender based violence, including for the Rohingya. As part of this, the UK provides funding to organisations both in central and northern Rakhine for protection monitoring. Our partners are tracking human rights violations and atrocity risks, including conflict related sexual violence, enabling humanitarian actors to better respond to gendered protection needs. UK health programmes integrate gender-based violence prevention activities into health services, and provide psychosocial support to survivors. We have also funded the development of important minimum standards for remote case management for gender-based violence survivors.

The UK is building strong and inclusive women's movements nationwide, recognising that this is an evidence-based approach to preventing gender-based violence.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
8th Dec 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the jurisprudence of the International Court of Justice regarding state responsibility to prevent and punish mass atrocity crimes, what assessment have they made of a “serious risk” of genocide in (1) Xinjiang, China, (2) Tigray, Ethiopia, and (3) Myanmar.

It is the long-standing policy of the British Government that any judgment as to whether genocide has occurred is a matter for a competent national or international court, rather than for governments or non-judicial bodies. It should be decided after consideration of all the evidence available in the context of a credible judicial process. We seek an end to all violations of international law, and to prevent their further escalation, irrespective of whether these violations fit the definition of specific international crimes.

We are seriously concerned about the gross violations of human rights in Xinjiang and atrocities in Ethiopia and Myanmar. We are taking action in all three situations including taking steps to hold the Government of Myanmar accountable though the UN, where we coordinated a joint statement on 26 November acknowledging the risk of mass atrocities in Myanmar which called for an immediate end to the violence; undertaking diplomatic and programmatic efforts to enable a resolution to the conflict and build lasting peace in Ethiopia; and imposing sanctions, including against senior Chinese Government officials and the regime in Myanmar.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
30th Nov 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Joint Statement on increasing violence in Myanmar, published on 26 November, what steps they have taken to hold the statement’s signatories accountable for investments in companies that continue to arm the Myanmar military.

All the signatories of the 26 November Joint Statement have made a public commitment to prevent the flow of arms to Myanmar. We are working with our partners to call on others to make similar commitments. The UK provides robust advice to UK companies and businesses to help them avoid exposure to military linked companies. We also have extensive targeted sanctions on the military's businesses. We will continue to encourage the wider international community to take similar measures.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
30th Nov 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Joint Statement on increasing violence in Myanmar, published on 26 November, what assessment they have made of whether the government of Australia is upholding its commitment “to suspend all operational support to the military”; and what representations they intend to make on that matter.

The UK is working closely with international partners to keep a spotlight on escalating violence and serious human rights violations by the Myanmar Armed Forces. The Joint Statement on 26 November is a clear example of this close collaboration. The Australian Government does not provide operational support to the Myanmar military, and has been consistent in its calls for all countries to cease the transfer of arms to the military regime. We worked closely with Australia to secure the UN General Assembly Resolution on the situation in Myanmar on 18 June, which called on all UN Member States to prevent the flow of arms to Myanmar. We are working closely with Australia to put pressure on those who sell arms to the military regime.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
30th Nov 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the meeting between Prime Minister Pashinyan, President Aliyev, and President Putin on 26 November, what further representations they plan to make to the government of Azerbaijan on the issue of releasing Armenian (1) hostages, and (2) prisoners of war.

The UK Government has not made any specific representations to the Governments of Armenia or Azerbaijan following the summit on the 26 November. However, the Minister for Europe and Americas has continued to raise this important issue with both Governments following last year's conflict, including during her recent meetings with the Armenian and Azerbaijani Ambassadors on 4 and 17 November respectively. We will continue to raise the importance of securing a peaceful settlement to the conflict through negotiations facilitated by the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs. The Foreign Secretary did so most recently at the 2 December OSCE Ministerial Council.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
24th Nov 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon on 9 March (HL13390), what further steps they will take to ensure the democratic wishes of the people of Myanmar are respected.

The UK stands in solidarity with the people of Myanmar and their call for democracy. To this end the UK is working to ensure a strong and coordinated international response. As well as sanctions, the UK has secured strong statements through the G7 and UN Security Council. Most recently we secured a UN Security Council Press Statement on 10 November urging the military to end violence, protect civilians and ensure full, safe and unhindered humanitarian access. We worked to secure G7 Statements and a UN General Assembly Resolution on preventing the flow of arms to Myanmar and continue to work with partners to put pressure on those selling arms to the military. We are engaging with pro-democracy voices, including the NUG who the Minister for Asia met on 4 November. We are bolstering support to human rights monitoring and evidence gathering, including providing £500,000 to the UN Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar, to ensure that there is a spotlight on human rights violations by the military. The UK has provided humanitarian assistance to over 500,000 people since the coup. Our humanitarian assistance includes water and sanitation, nutrition and lifesaving food. Our work on livelihoods, financial inclusion and food security continues to focus on reaching the most vulnerable and in the first half of 2021 has reached over 3 million households. The UK is supporting diverse civil society and pro-democracy voices, including women's rights organisations, LGBT+ groups and youth, to enable them to contribute to peacebuilding and to build a common vision for the future. We will continue to work closely with partners, particularly in ASEAN, to seek a resolution to the crisis in Myanmar.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
24th Nov 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park on 17 November (HL3864), what steps they have taken to either (1) institute proceedings in the International Court of Justice that would lead to a pronouncement of genocide in Armenia, or (2) give British courts a role in determining whether states are guilty of committing genocide.

The Government has not taken any steps to institute proceedings in the International Court of Justice that would lead to a pronouncement of genocide in Armenia. The Government's longstanding policy is that any judgment as to whether genocide has occurred is a matter for a competent national or international court rather than for Governments or non-judicial bodies. We do not consider that it would be beneficial to empower the High Court of England and Wales to make a preliminary finding that a State has committed genocide or crimes against humanity. These are crimes that require the application of a criminal standard of proof on the basis of individual criminal liability. Any decision must be made after consideration of all of the evidence available in the context of an actual and credible criminal trial of an individual or individuals. British courts can, however, determine whether individuals have committed the crime of genocide.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
24th Nov 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what were the findings of the British High Commission's recent visit to Benue State in Nigeria; and what steps they are taking in response.

Officials from the British High Commission in Abuja regularly visit areas affected by intercommunal violence. Most recently, the Governance and Stability team visited Benue State between 22-24 November. During their visit, they spoke about the ongoing security situation with the state governor Samuel Ortom, local faith leaders, and Non Governmental Organisations active in peacebuilding and reconciliation. The High Commission is currently assessing bids to carry out a project on interfaith peacebuilding, alongside considering other potential opportunities to work in Benue State.

We continue to make clear to the Nigerian authorities, at the highest levels, the importance of protecting civilians, including all ethnic and religious groups, and protecting human rights for all.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
24th Nov 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the US State Department's decision to remove Nigeria from its list of Violators of Religious Freedom.

The removal of Nigeria from the list of Violators of Religious Freedom is a matter for the Government of the United States of America.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
17th Nov 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of recent reports that the Azerbaijani army has moved towards the Lachin-Kelbajar region of Nagorno-Karabakh.

The UK Government is closely monitoring the situation on the Armenia-Azerbaijan border following the exchange of fire on 16 November. Our Embassies in Baku and Yerevan have continued to urge de-escalation and a return to negotiations facilitated by the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group Co-Chairs. Through our Delegation to the OSCE, the UK has condemned recent exchanges of fire that have put civilian lives and regional stability and security at risk. The Minister for Europe and Americas has met both the Armenian and Azerbaijani Ambassadors to London in recent weeks and reinforced these messages.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
17th Nov 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of (1) reports of military attacks by Azerbaijan on or near the M2/E117 highway in Armenia; and (2) the humanitarian impact of these attacks for ethnic Armenians in (a) Syunik province, and (b) Nagorno-Karabakh.

The UK Government is closely monitoring the situation on the Armenia-Azerbaijan border following the exchange of fire on 16 November. Our Embassies in Baku and Yerevan have continued to urge de-escalation and a return to negotiations facilitated by the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs. Through our Delegation to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, the UK has condemned recent exchanges of fire that have put civilian lives and regional stability and security at risk. The Minister for Europe and Americas has met both the Armenian and Azerbaijani Ambassadors to London in recent weeks and reinforced these messages.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
17th Nov 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of reports of military attacks by Azerbaijan in Sisian province.

The UK Government is closely monitoring the situation on the Armenia-Azerbaijan border following the exchange of fire on 16 November. Our Embassies in Baku and Yerevan have continued to urge de-escalation and a return to negotiations facilitated by the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs. Through our Delegation to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, the UK has condemned recent exchanges of fire that have put civilian lives and regional stability and security at risk. The Minister for Europe and Americas has met both the Armenian and Azerbaijani Ambassadors to London in recent weeks and reinforced these messages.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
16th Nov 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park on 3 November (HL3348), what further steps they have taken to "coordinate with international partners on efforts to reduce tensions and support regional stability” in Armenia.

UK diplomats continue to engage with partners. This includes in Baku, Yerevan and at the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) in Vienna where the UK continues to reinforce our support for the Minsk Group Co-Chairs and their work to facilitate negotiations over all outstanding matters relating to the conflict. The UK Government continues to urge Armenia and Azerbaijan to engage in substantive discussions under the framework of the OSCE Minsk Group. The Minister for Europe and Americas reinforced these messages in her recent meetings with the Armenian Ambassador on 4 November and the Azerbaijani Ambassador on 17 November.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
16th Nov 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon on 29 September (HL2695), what progress they have made on their engagement "with state governments, civil society, faith and community leaders and affected communities” in Nigeria’s Middle Belt.

Our High Commissioner and her team regularly visit states to engage with state governments, civil society, faith and community leaders and affected communities. Most recently, British High Commission officials visited Plateau state in October 2021, where they met with a range of interlocutors, including Christian and Muslim leaders to discuss intercommunal violence. These discussions highlighted the causes of the intercommunal violence are complex and relate frequently to criminality, competition for resources and failures of governance.

We regularly raise insecurity in Nigeria with the Nigerian Government. On 1 November, the Minister for Africa raised the issue of insecurity with Nigeria's Foreign Minister in a meeting at the COP26 summit in Glasgow. The Prime Minister also discussed this with President Buhari in the margins of the Global Education Summit in July. We continue to urge and support the Nigerian Government to take action to implement long-term solutions that address the root causes of violence.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
16th Nov 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to section 40 of the Glasgow Climate Pact, what steps they will take to provide emergency assistance for necessary mitigation and adaptation to climate change in Sudan.

As COP26 President, the UK is committed to driving action to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees and support countries that are most vulnerable to adapt to the impacts of climate change such as Sudan. This will be crucially important for communities in Africa, where the impacts of climate change are already being felt. The UK is a long-standing supporter of African adaptation, with around half of our £2.7 billion adaptation budget between 2016 and 2020 spent in Africa. We have strengthened these commitments at COP26, where the UK announced £143.5 million funding for programmes for African countries to adapt to the impact of extreme weather and changing climate. We have provided a guarantee to the African Development Bank, releasing up to $2 billion of climate finance - half of which will be for adaptation. These commitments demonstrate that Africa is at the heart of our approach to climate and nature. In the case of Sudan the military coup d'état of 25 October does not change the need to address climate change issues and ordinary Sudanese must not suffer as a result of the military's actions. We will however keep any specific support under review in light of the evolving situation.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
16th Nov 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of reports that increased military attacks against civilians in the Burmese province of Chin State are approaching the classification of genocide.

The UK is deeply concerned at increased military attacks against civilians in Chin State including credible reports of torture, forced labour, sexual violence and attacks on places of worships. We are concerned about the particular vulnerability of religious minorities in the State. Over 40,000 people have been displaced as a result of the increasing violence.

The UK released a statement in country on 15 October, urging the military to end the violence. We secured a Press Statement at the UN Security Council on 10 November calling for the protection of civilians, humanitarian access and urging the military to exercise restraint. We will continue to monitor the situation closely and are in discussion with partners on next steps.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
16th Nov 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to join the governments of the United States of America, Germany, France and Canada in formally recognising the Armenian Genocide of 1915–23.

The events of 1915-1916 were a tragic episode in the history of the Armenian people and they must never be forgotten. The UK Government of the day condemned the massacres and this Government fully endorses that view. It is the long-standing policy of the British Government that any judgement as to whether genocide has occurred is a matter for a competent national or international court, rather than for governments or non-judicial bodies.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
9th Nov 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of (1) the escalation of violence in Nigeria, and (2) the risk of local vigilante armies emerging, as a result of (a) inaction by the government of Nigeria, and (b) reports of Nigerian military collusion in attacks.

The Government is concerned by increasing insecurity in Nigeria, including the rise in both criminal violence and intercommunal violence. We are also concerned by increasing vigilantism in response. We condemn all violence against civilians in Nigeria. We continue to promote intercommunal and interfaith dialogue. Our High Commissioner and her team regularly visit states affected by violence to engage with state governments, civil society, faith and community leaders and affected communities. Most recently, British High Commission officials visited Plateau state in October 2021, where they met with a range of interlocutors, including Christian and Muslim leaders, who recognised the causes of the intercommunal violence are complex and relate frequently to criminality, competition for resources and failures of governance.

On 1 November the Minister for Africa raised insecurity in Nigeria with Foreign Minister Onyeama in the margins of the COP26 summit in Glasgow. The Prime Minister also discussed insecurity with President Buhari in the margins of the Global Education Summit in July. We will continue to urge and support the Nigerian Government to take action to implement long-term solutions that address the root causes of violence.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
9th Nov 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon on 5 July (HL1232), what further steps they have taken in Nigeria to (1) "promote intercommunal and interfaith dialogue", and (2) "continue to call for solutions that address the complex underlying causes of violence".

The Government is concerned by increasing insecurity in Nigeria, including the rise in both criminal violence and intercommunal violence. We are also concerned by increasing vigilantism in response. We condemn all violence against civilians in Nigeria. We continue to promote intercommunal and interfaith dialogue. Our High Commissioner and her team regularly visit states affected by violence to engage with state governments, civil society, faith and community leaders and affected communities. Most recently, British High Commission officials visited Plateau state in October 2021, where they met with a range of interlocutors, including Christian and Muslim leaders, who recognised the causes of the intercommunal violence are complex and relate frequently to criminality, competition for resources and failures of governance.

On 1 November the Minister for Africa raised insecurity in Nigeria with Foreign Minister Onyeama in the margins of the COP26 summit in Glasgow. The Prime Minister also discussed insecurity with President Buhari in the margins of the Global Education Summit in July. We will continue to urge and support the Nigerian Government to take action to implement long-term solutions that address the root causes of violence.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
9th Nov 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they have taken to fulfil their treaty obligations to the 1948 Genocide Convention (1) to prevent, and (2) to protect, the Armenian people from genocide.

The UK takes its moral and legal obligations seriously, and is fully committed to focusing on conflict prevention as the best means to prevent most mass atrocities. HMG adopts a consolidated, whole-of-government effort, using our diplomatic, development, defence and law enforcement capabilities, to help find pathways to global peace and stability. It is the long-standing policy of the British Government than any judgement as to whether genocide has occurred is a matter for a competent national or international court, rather than for governments or non-judicial bodies. The UK is fully committed to the principle that there must be no impunity for the most serious international crimes.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
9th Nov 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the government of Azerbaijan regarding that government’s incursions in the Armenian provinces of (1) Syunik, and (2) Gegharkunik.

The UK Government is closely monitoring the situation on the Armenia-Azerbaijan border. Through the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe and bilateral engagement in Baku and Yerevan, UK officials continue to urge the Armenian and Azerbaijani authorities to settle all outstanding matters including the peaceful negotiation of their borders.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
9th Nov 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they have taken in response to the report by the Foreign Affairs Committee The UK Government's Response to the Myanmar Crisis, published on 16 July; and in particular the recommendation that the UK Government should increase (1) diplomatic, and (2) economic, pressure to reduce the violence committed against civilians in Burma.

The UK is deeply concerned with the worsening situation in Myanmar. We continue to call publicly for a peaceful resolution to the crisis. In response to escalating violence in Chin and Sagaing, the UK convened the UN Security Council on 8 November. During that meeting we called on the military to exercise restraint and ensure the protection of civilians. On 15 October, the British Embassy in Yangon released a statement urging the military to end their campaign of violence and flagging our concern for communities, their livelihoods, property and places of worship.

The UK has played a leading international role in coordinating targeted sanctions against the military regime. Since the coup, we have announced seven tranches of sanctions, which have targeted the junta's ruling body and its military leadership, as well as its key commercial interests. In addition, the UK's trade review has suspended trade promotion in Myanmar and strengthened advice to British businesses on avoiding exposure to the military. The UK is considering further targeted actions against the regime.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
9th Nov 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they have taken in response to the Foreign Affairs Committee report The UK Government’s Response to the Myanmar Crisis, published on 16 July; and in particular, the recommendation that Tatmadaw’s supply of arms are cut off in order to end their violence against civilians in Burma.

The UK is a longstanding supporter of an arms embargo on Myanmar. We are clear that countries should not sell arms to the Myanmar military. The UK helped secure and strengthen a comprehensive EU arms embargo on Myanmar following the 2017 Rohingya crisis. Since we left the EU, we have transitioned this into domestic law. We are working closely with partners to coordinate pressure on those who sell arms to the military, and have used our leadership role at the G7 and UN to this end. On 5 May, the UK secured a G7 Foreign and Development Ministers' Meeting Communiqué that committed G7 members to continue to prevent the supply of arms and technical assistance to the military. The G7 Leaders' Communiqué of 13 June reaffirmed G7 unity on pursuing additional measures should they prove necessary. On 18 June, the UK worked with partners to deliver a UN General Assembly Resolution which urged member states to prevent the flow of arms to Myanmar.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
26th Oct 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they have take to ensure the (1) protection, and (2) release of (a) Prime Minister Hamdok, and (b) Yasir Arman, following the overthrow of the civilian government in Sudan.

We strongly condemn the actions of the Sudanese military on 25 October to detain Prime Minister Hamdok, Yasir Arman and members of the civilian government and unilaterally dissolve the transitional government. Together with the US and Norway we issued a Troika statement on 26 October condemning the actions taken by the military, calling for them to reverse course, to release detained politicians, and to ensure the Sudanese people can protest without fear of violence.

Prime Minister Hamdok has been released but is currently under house arrest. As a signal of support, our Ambassador and other senior members of the diplomatic community in Khartoum met with Prime Minister Hamdok on 27 October and were able ascertain that he is well, notwithstanding the circumstances, but still detained. The whereabouts and condition of other civilian members of the transitional government are still unknown.

Over the past two years, the UK has taken a leading role to support Sudan on their delicate path from oppressive autocratic rule to freedom and democracy. Having arrested the Prime Minister and others, the military have undermined the trust placed in them to deliver democracy, by the international community, and more importantly, by the people of Sudan. The acts of the military represents a betrayal of the Sudanese people and their journey to democracy.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
26th Oct 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have if any, to call a special session of the UN Human Rights Council regarding the situation in Sudan.

Together with partners, we are seeking a special session of the UN Human Rights Council as soon as possible in order to discuss the situation. The UK strongly condemns the military coup d'état and arrests of civilian members of Sudan's transitional government on 25 October. We have called on the security forces to immediately release those they have unlawfully detained. The Minister for Africa condemned this act in the strongest terms in the House of Commons on 25 October. We have since made public statements, including as the Troika with US/Norway on 26 October, calling for the restoration of transitional institutions, release of detainees and protection of civilians. Over the past two years, the UK has taken a leading role to support Sudan on their delicate path from oppressive autocratic rule to freedom and democracy. The actions of the military represents a betrayal of the Sudanese people and their journey to democracy.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
26th Oct 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to impose Magnitsky sanctions on the military officials responsible for the overthrow of the civilian government in Sudan.

We strongly condemn the actions of the Sudanese military on 25 October to detain Prime Minister Hamdok and members of the civilian government, declare a state of emergency and unilaterally dissolve the transitional government. The actions of the military represents a betrayal of the Sudanese people and their journey to democracy. The UK will consider the full range of policy tools at our disposal to protect human rights and deter violations, including sanctions. It is longstanding practice not to speculate on future sanctions designations as to do so could reduce the impact of any action. We urge Sudan's military leadership to reverse their course, to release detained politicians, and to ensure Sudanese people can protest without fear of violence.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
12th Oct 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the intensification of jihadist attacks against Christians in Nigeria, as reported by the Gatestone Institute on 10 October; whether they will discuss these attacks with the government of Nigeria; and what further steps, if any, they will take.

We condemn all violence across Nigeria, the devastating effects of which are felt by communities of different faiths. We are aware of the Gatestone Institute report. Jihadist ideology is a driver of the conflict involving terrorist groups in the North East. We assess that the drivers of intercommunal violence elsewhere in Nigeria are complex and frequently relate to competition over resources and criminality. We regularly visit states affected by intercommunal violence to engage with state governments, civil society, faith and community leaders and affected communities. The Prime Minister discussed a range of issues with President Buhari, including security, in the margins of the Global Education Summit in July. We continue to encourage the Nigerian Government to take urgent action to protect all those at risk of violence and implement long-term solutions that address the root causes of violence.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
14th Sep 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment have they made of whether extremist Islamist ideology is a driver of intercommunal attacks in Nigeria; and what assessment they have made of the findings of the Bishop of Truro’s Independent review of persecution of Christians and freedom of religion or belief.

The Government condemns all incidents of intercommunal violence in Nigeria, the devastating effects of which are felt by communities of different faiths. The underlying drivers of intercommunal violence are complex and frequently relate to competition over resources and increasing criminality. Islamic extremism is a driver of conflict in the North east and not a driver of intercommunal violence.

We have accepted the recommendations of the Bishop of Truro's report. On Nigeria, the report considered intercommunal violence in the Middle Belt and terrorism in the North East. In response to the issues raised in the report on intercommunal violence, the Government co-hosted a Wilton Park conference on 'Fostering Social Cohesion in Nigeria' in February 2020, exploring the complex causes of conflict and solutions to help ease tensions and reduce violence. Since then, we have increased our visits to areas affected by violence to engage with state governments, civil society, faith and community leaders and affected communities. The Minister for Africa visited Nigeria in April, where he discussed insecurity across the country with the President's Chief of Staff, the Foreign Minister and community leaders.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
18th Aug 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of reports of the Turkish bombing of a hospital in Sinjar on 17 August; and what representations they have made about these reports to the governments of (1) Iraq, and (2) Turkey.

We regularly reiterate the need for dialogue and cooperation between Iraq and Turkey to combat terrorism, ensure regional security, and protect civilians whilst respecting Iraqi sovereignty. Reports of an attack on a hospital are deeply worrying and it is important that the full facts are established. We have repeatedly called on all parties to uphold their obligations under international humanitarian law, and we are monitoring the situation closely.

The UK welcomed last year's Sinjar Agreement as a critical step to stabilise the region- it is vital that all groups cooperate with its implementation.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
20th Jul 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of reports of an encroachment by the armed forces of Azerbaijan into the village of Yeraskh in Armenia on 19 July.

The UK Government is aware of the ongoing tensions along the Armenia and Azerbaijan border. We continue to urge both sides to refrain from rhetoric or actions which may exacerbate the situation and to engage in urgent discussions to ensure a peaceful resolution to the current tensions.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
20th Jul 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the recent statement by the President of Azerbaijan that “There is no Nagorno-Karabakh, there is Karabakh”, and of whether this violates the rights to self-determination contained in the November Ceasefire Agreement and the OSCE Minsk Group Protocols.

We are aware of the recent statements by the President of Azerbaijan. The Minister for the European Neighbourhood spoke to Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Bayramov on 14 June where she reinforced continued UK support for the efforts of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs to secure a peaceful, fully negotiated and sustainable settlement to the conflict in line with the Minsk Group Principles. Our Embassies in Baku and Yerevan have also reinforced this ongoing support to those Principles with the relevant authorities and have encouraged both parties to engage with the Co-Chairs' renewed efforts.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
20th Jul 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of recent statements by the President of Azerbaijan that parts of Armenia’s sovereign territory, including the capital Yerevan, belong to Azerbaijan.

We are aware of the recent statements by the President of Azerbaijan. The Minister for the European Neighbourhood spoke to Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Bayramov on 14 June where she reinforced continued UK support for the efforts of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs to secure a peaceful, fully negotiated and sustainable settlement to the conflict in line with the Minsk Group Principles. Our Embassies in Baku and Yerevan have also reinforced this ongoing support to those Principles with the relevant authorities and have encouraged both parties to engage with the Co-Chairs' renewed efforts.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
12th Jul 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of how and where Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra movement, was arrested.

We are seeking clarification from the Nigerian government about the circumstances of the arrest and detention of Nnamdi Kanu. The UK has requested consular access to Mr Kanu from the Nigerian government, and we stand ready to provide consular assistance.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
12th Jul 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with the government of Nigeria about the alleged extraordinary rendition of Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra movement; and what steps they are taking, if any, to ensure he is (1) protected from torture, and (2) released.

We are seeking clarification from the Nigerian government about the circumstances of the arrest and detention of Nnamdi Kanu. The UK has requested consular access to Mr Kanu from the Nigerian government, and we stand ready to provide consular assistance.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
21st Jun 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of (1) the reasons for, and (2) the impact of, the decision by the government of Nigeria to ban Twitter.

We are concerned that the Nigerian Government has suspended Twitter in Nigeria. The Minister for Africa has publicly reiterated the importance of all Nigerians being able to enjoy their right to freedom of expression responsibly. Our High Commission in Abuja has issued a statement with other diplomatic missions conveying disappointment over the suspension and affirming our strong support for freedom of expression.

In his statement of 4 June, the Nigerian Information Minister Lai Mohammed argued that the suspension had been imposed because the platform was being persistently used "for activities that are capable of undermining Nigeria's corporate existence". On 7 June, our Acting Head of Mission in Abuja, along with senior representatives from other diplomatic missions, met the Nigerian Foreign Minister, Geoffrey Onyeama, to discuss the suspension and statement, and to reiterate our position. Our diplomats continue to discuss the suspension with the Nigerian Government and other stakeholders, with a view to encouraging a resolution soon. Freedom of expression and the media are essential elements of a democracy.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
21st Jun 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of escalating Islamist-related violence in (1) South-western, and (2) South-eastern Nigeria; and in particular the impact on food security.

The Government condemns all incidents of violence in Nigeria. We are following with concern the increased insecurity in the South West, where there has been a rise in both criminal violence and distinct clashes between farmers and herders. We are also concerned by the increasing vigilantism in response. Narratives that define the violence by ethnic groups risk fueling tensions and further violence, as well as undermining efforts to address the complex root causes, which include competition for resources and rapid population growth.

The Government is also concerned by the increasing levels of violence in the South East. We are working in Nigeria to promote intercommunal and interfaith dialogue, and continue to call for solutions that address the complex underlying causes of violence. Officials at the British High Commission regularly meet faith and community leaders and civil society organisations in both the South East and South West. During his visit to Nigeria in April, the Minister for Africa met the President's Chief of Staff, Ibrahim Gambari, and the Foreign Minister, Geoffrey Onyeama, to discuss insecurity. The Minister raised the importance of protecting all communities across Nigeria. Across Nigeria, the UK is also concerned about the plight of the estimated one million civilians living in inaccessible areas to humanitarian workers, of whom 880,000 have very limited access to food and to basic services such as healthcare.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
21st Jun 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their response to recent reports of targeted attacks in Nigeria against the (1) Yoruba people, and (2) Igbo people, by armed Fulani herders.

The Government condemns all incidents of violence in Nigeria. We are following with concern the increased insecurity in the South West, where there has been a rise in both criminal violence and distinct clashes between farmers and herders. We are also concerned by the increasing vigilantism in response. Narratives that define the violence by ethnic groups risk fueling tensions and further violence, as well as undermining efforts to address the complex root causes, which include competition for resources and rapid population growth.

The Government is also concerned by the increasing levels of violence in the South East. We are working in Nigeria to promote intercommunal and interfaith dialogue, and continue to call for solutions that address the complex underlying causes of violence. Officials at the British High Commission regularly meet faith and community leaders and civil society organisations in both the South East and South West. During his visit to Nigeria in April, the Minister for Africa met the President's Chief of Staff, Ibrahim Gambari, and the Foreign Minister, Geoffrey Onyeama, to discuss insecurity. The Minister raised the importance of protecting all communities across Nigeria. The UK is also concerned about the plight of the estimated one million civilians living in inaccessible areas to humanitarian workers, of whom 880,000 have very limited access to food and to basic services such as healthcare.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
21st Jun 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their policy on taking part in meetings that include representatives of the Burmese military regime who seized power in a military coup on 1 February.

The UK Government condemns the military in Myanmar, the violence against the people of Myanmar and the detention of members of the civilian government and civil society, including State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and President Win Myint. To this end, the UK has sanctioned the State Administration Council (SAC) and military members of the SAC to send a clear message that we oppose their activities. We are engaging with the junta where required for the functioning of the Embassy, for example with regard to the protection of British Nationals. The UK will also have to attend meetings where the junta's representatives are present but we are clear this in no way indicates support for the regime.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
21st Jun 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the UN for the UN Secretary General to lead a delegation to Myanmar.

The UK has supported the idea of a high level UN visit to Myanmar. At the UN Security Council we have expressed support for efforts by the Special Envoy of the UN Secretary General to visit Myanmar. The Security Council Presidential Statement, secured on 10 March, called for the Special Envoy to visit the country as soon as possible. We welcomed the strong statements from the UN Secretary General in response to the coup and subsequent violence. The Prime Minister and the Minister for South Asia and the Commonwealth have both discussed the situation in Myanmar with the UN Secretary General. The Minister for Asia also met with the United Nations Special Envoy to register the UK's extreme concern at the coup in Myanmar and the arbitrary detention of democratically elected politicians and members of civil society by the military. We also reiterated our support for the UN Special Envoy and condemn the fact that the junta are denying her access into Myanmar.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
21st Jun 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government which countries they have contacted regarding the introduction of an arms embargo on Myanmar.

The UK is a longstanding supporter of an arms embargo on Myanmar. We are clear that no one should sell arms to Myanmar. The UK worked to secure a strong G7 statement on the 3 and 23 February urging all countries to immediately suspend arms sales to Myanmar. On 5 May, the UK secured a G7 Foreign and Development Ministers' Meeting Communiqué that committed G7 members to continue to prevent the supply of arms and technical assistance to the military. The G7 Leaders' Communiqué of 13 June reaffirmed G7 unity on pursuing additional measures should they prove necessary. On 18 June, the UK worked with partners to deliver a UN General Assembly Resolution which urged member states to prevent the flow of arms to Myanmar. We will continue to work closely with partners and through multilateral institutions, such as the UN Security Council, to apply pressure directly on those who sell arms to the military.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
7th Jun 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of (1) reports that Islamist Fulani militia continue to perpetrate massacres and kidnapping in Nigeria, and (2) the designation of Nigeria as a country of particular concern by the US International Religious Freedom Act; and what steps they have taken in response.

The UK Government condemns all incidents of intercommunal violence in Nigeria, which have had devastating effects on communities of different faiths and ethnicities. It is inaccurate to attribute sole responsibility to one ethnic group, the Fulani, and terms like militia risk fuelling tensions between communities. During the Minister for Africa's visit to Nigeria in April, he raised the importance of protecting all communities. We are working with our partners in Nigeria to promote intercommunal and interfaith dialogue, and continue to call for solutions that address the underlying causes of conflict.

We also condemn kidnaps in Nigeria, including the recent kidnaps and killings of students in Northern Nigeria. Those responsible must be held to account. We have provided mentoring and capacity building support to Nigerian Police Force units to improve their anti-kidnap capacity, to help reduce harm to victims and hold those responsible to account.

The decision by the United States to designate Nigeria as a Country of Particular Concern for Religious Freedom is a matter for the United States government. The UK is committed to promoting and protecting the right to freedom of religion or belief around the world. We are a strong voice internationally in defense of this fundamental right and promoting respect between communities of different religions and those of no religion.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
7th Jun 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with the government of Ethiopia about (1) the alleged genocide in Tigray, and (2) reports that priests and nuns in that region have been attacked and killed.

As the Minister of State responsible for human rights issues for the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office, I tweeted on 11 May to express my deep sadness at the reported murder of priests in Tigray. This is one of an increasing number of horrifying reports of atrocities coming out of Tigray. Civilians must be protected and the violence must stop. We have also stressed the need for Ethiopia to safeguard its incredible diversity of faith and identity in order to uphold freedom of religion and belief.

The UK's longstanding position is that determining whether a situation amounts to genocide is an issue for competent national and international courts, not governments: our focus is on seeing an end to violence and protecting civilians. The UK will support the UN Office for the High Commissioner for Human Rights to ensure that their joint investigations with the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission into atrocities in Tigray are independent, transparent and impartial and that those responsible for these human rights abuses are held to account. The Foreign Secretary, Minister for Africa and our Ambassador in Addis continue to raise human rights issues in their discussions with the Ethiopian government.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
7th Jun 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they have taken in response to the recent attacks on civilians in Chin and Kayah states by the military regime in Myanmar.

We are concerned about the impact of renewed fighting in Chin and Kayah States on civilian populations, and the increased vulnerability of internally displaced people as a result of COVID. We are closely monitoring the impact of the recent military attacks, including on supply routes, to ensure that support reaches those in most need. We are in close contact with the UN, NGOs and other local civil society organisations in the affected areas, and we are ensuring as much flexibility as we can in their use of UK aid to enable them to operate safely and continue providing support.

The UK continues to take strong action against the Tatmadaw for human rights violations. The violent crackdown on Civilians and Human rights is completely unacceptable and requires a strong message from the international community. Since the coup we have announced targeted sanctions against 9 high-ranking military officials and imposed sanctions on Myanmar Gems Enterprise, Myanmar Economic Holdings Ltd (MEHL) and Myanmar Economic Corporation (MEC). We have today announced that we have sanctioned Myanmar Timber Enterprise (MTE) and Myanmar Pearl Enterprise (MPE) and have designated the State Administration Council (SAC), the juntas governing body. We continue to work in concert with our partners and allies to determine a range of additional measures.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
7th Jun 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessments they have made of the impact of international sanctions on the people of Syria.

Her Majesty's Government assesses that the UK's targeted Syria sanctions, alongside those of other countries, increase pressure on the Assad regime to engage with the UN-facilitated political process as the only way to resolve the conflict for all Syrians. We also understand that many Syrians welcome efforts to increase accountability for those responsible for suffering in Syria, including the regime's repression of civilians and the use of chemical weapons.

We continue seeking to minimise any negative impact of sanctions on ordinary Syrians, in line with our position as a leading humanitarian donor to the crisis, having committed over £3.7 billion in response. The UK does not sanction medicine, medical equipment or medical assistance, and items required to fight the COVID-19 pandemic are not subject to direct restrictions on export, supply, financing or use in Syria.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
26th May 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the government of Azerbaijan about (1) fulfilling its obligations under international law to prevent, investigate and punish violence against women, (2) providing adequate protection and effective legal measures and redress for survivors, and (3) ratifying the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence.

During her recent visit to Azerbaijan the Minister for the European Neighbourhood met with representatives of Civil Society, including survivors of domestic violence. During her meeting with President Aliyev she urged ratification of the Istanbul Convention alongside implementation of the National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security. The UK Government will continue to urge Azerbaijan to sign and ratify the appropriate conventions to provide safeguards for women.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
26th May 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the report by Amnesty International Azerbaijan: Gender-Based Reprisals Against Women Must Stop, published on 12 May.

The UK Government has made no assessment of this report. However, during her recent visit to Azerbaijan the Minister for the European Neighbourhood met with representatives of Civil Society, including survivors of domestic violence, and during her meeting with President Aliyev she urged signature of the Istanbul Convention. We continue to urge the Government of Azerbaijan to sign the convention and encourage thorough investigations into allegations of violence against women.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
26th May 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the government of Zimbabwe about the (1) arrest, and (2) alleged abuse, of Joana Mamombe, Cecilia Chimbiri and Netsai Marova; and what steps they have taken to ensure their immediate release.

The Minister for Africa has followed the cases of Joanna Mamombe, Cecilia Chimbiri and Netsai Marova closely. He wrote to the Zimbabwean Minister of Home Affairs about their cases on 10 May 2021 urging for them to be treated in line with the constitution. On 30 April, our Ambassador to Zimbabwe met with the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade to discuss their case. On 5 May, the Minister for Africa welcomed the granting of bail for Joanna Mamombe and Cecilia Chimbiri. We are relieved that all three women are no longer in custody, but we urge the authorities to focus on investigating their original claims.

We remain clear that the Government of Zimbabwe must meet its international and domestic obligations by respecting the rule of law and the freedoms and rights enshrined in the Zimbabwean Constitution; safeguarding human rights; and committing to genuine political and economic reform for the benefit of all Zimbabweans. Her Majesty's Government will continue to speak out, both privately and in public, where we have concerns and we will work alongside the international community to support a better future for all Zimbabweans.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
11th May 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the report by Baroness Cox Continuing Impunity - Azerbaijani-Turkish offensives against Armenians in Nagorno Karabakh, published on 24 April.

The UK Government is aware of the report by Baroness Cox. During her February visit to the region, the Minister for the European Neighbourhood and the Americas urged all sides to refrain from rhetoric or actions that may delay dialogue or reconciliation between Armenia and Azerbaijan. We continue to urge engagement with the OSCE Minsk Group and Minsk Group Co-Chairs to settle all outstanding matters following last year's conflict to ensure a secure and stable future.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
11th May 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the opening of the Spoils of War park in Baku, Azerbaijan.

The UK Government is aware of the opening of a museum in Azerbaijan following the recent Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. During her February visit to the region, the Minister for the European Neighbourhood and the Americas urged all sides to refrain from rhetoric or actions that may delay dialogue or reconciliation between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
11th May 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of a rise in anti-Armenian xenophobia in Azerbaijan among (1) the government, and (2) the media, of that country.

The UK Government has made no such assessment. During her February visit to the region, the Minister for the European Neighbourhood and the Americas urged all sides to refrain from rhetoric or actions that may delay dialogue or reconciliation between Armenia and Azerbaijan. We continue to urge engagement with the OSCE Minsk Group and Minsk Group Co-Chairs to settle all outstanding matters following last year's conflict.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
11th May 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with the government of Azerbaijan about the continuing detention of Armenian prisoners, particularly in relation to the Nagorno-Karabakh ceasefire agreement.

During recent visits to Armenia and Azerbaijan, the Minister for the Americas and European Neighbourhood urged both parties to work with the ICRC to expedite the returns of all prisoners of war. Our Embassies in Baku and Yerevan continue to raise this with the Governments of Armenia and Azerbaijan. The UK Government will continue to support both sides in abiding by the November peace deal and to settle all outstanding matters through talks under the auspices of the OSCE Minsk Group.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
11th May 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with the government of Azerbaijan about UNESCO's proposal to send a mission to Nagorno-Karabakh.

The Minister for European Neighbourhood and the Americas has emphasised the importance of protecting all cultural heritage sites to both the Armenian and Azerbaijani Governments. The UK Ambassador to Azerbaijan has also raised this issue with representatives of the Azerbaijani Government. We continue to underline our support for the efforts of UNESCO.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
20th Apr 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the formation of Myanmar’s National Unity Government (NUG); and what plans they have to ensure that the NUG receives recognition and support among UN member states.

It has not proved possible to respond to this question in the time available before Prorogation. The Minister will write directly to the Member with a response shortly.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
20th Apr 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon on 9 March (HL13388), what further steps they have taken to respond to appeals for the urgent delivery of cross-border humanitarian assistance in Burma.

FCDO officials are in close contact with humanitarian delivery partners in Myanmar and on the Thai border to understand and respond to emerging need. Since the military coup, the UK Government has provided over £5 million additional funding for the humanitarian response. This includes £600,000 to partners to support displacement within Myanmar and support those fleeing into Thailand.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
12th Apr 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the report by the US Department of State 2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Azerbaijan, published on 30 March.

The UK Government has not made an assessment of the US Department of State 2020 Country Report on Human Rights Practices in Azerbaijan. Support for human rights and human rights defenders is a priority around the world, and we continue to raise human rights issues with the Azerbaijani Government accordingly. During her recent visit to Azerbaijan, the Minister for the European Neighbourhood and the Americas raised the importance of respect for human rights, including the need to support a vibrant and active civil society, the importance of ensuring women's rights and protection, and the need to encourage a free media environment. Her Majesty's Ambassador to Azerbaijan also routinely engages on these issues.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
24th Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of (1) the types of weapons used by Fulani herdsmen involved in fighting in Nigeria’s Middle Belt, and (2) from which countries these weapons originate.

The UK Government condemns all incidents of intercommunal violence. These have had a devastating impact on both Christian and Muslim communities across multiple states in Nigeria. The UK Government urges all communities to work together to address problems peacefully and to avoid division. We have made clear to the Nigerian authorities at the highest levels the importance of protecting civilians, including ethnic and religious minorities, and human rights for all. The Minister for Africa and the Deputy National Security Adviser have raised the issue of intercommunal violence with President Buhari's Chief of Staff, Ibrahim Gambari, most recently in December 2020. The Minister for Africa publicly welcomed President Buhari's commitment to protect all religious and ethnic groups in the country in February this year, and reiterated the importance of communities working together.

The FCDO monitors incidents of intercommunal violence very closely, both from the UK and through the British High Commission in Nigeria. Although we do not hold figures on the numbers killed during incidents of intercommunal violence, the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project estimates there have been just over 6,000 fatalities from all conflict and political violence across Nigeria's Middle Belt, plus Kaduna and Taraba, over the last five years. These fatalities span all religious groups and ethnic backgrounds. Perpetrators of violence in the Middle Belt have used a range of weapons, including staves, knives and guns in attacks.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
24th Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the number of people killed by Fulani herdsmen during fighting in Nigeria’s Middle Belt in each of the previous five years.

The UK Government condemns all incidents of intercommunal violence. These have had a devastating impact on both Christian and Muslim communities across multiple states in Nigeria. The UK Government urges all communities to work together to address problems peacefully and to avoid division. We have made clear to the Nigerian authorities at the highest levels the importance of protecting civilians, including ethnic and religious minorities, and human rights for all. The Minister for Africa and the Deputy National Security Adviser have raised the issue of intercommunal violence with President Buhari's Chief of Staff, Ibrahim Gambari, most recently in December 2020. The Minister for Africa publicly welcomed President Buhari's commitment to protect all religious and ethnic groups in the country in February this year, and reiterated the importance of communities working together.

The FCDO monitors incidents of intercommunal violence very closely, both from the UK and through the British High Commission in Nigeria. Although we do not hold figures on the numbers killed during incidents of intercommunal violence, the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project estimates there have been just over 6,000 fatalities from all conflict and political violence across Nigeria's Middle Belt, plus Kaduna and Taraba, over the last five years. These fatalities span all religious groups and ethnic backgrounds. Perpetrators of violence in the Middle Belt have used a range of weapons, including staves, knives and guns in attacks.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
24th Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will formally observe Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day on 24 April.

The events of 1915-1916 were a tragic episode in the history of the Armenian people and they must never be forgotten. The UK Government of the day condemned the massacres and this Government fully endorses that view. The policy of the UK Government is that any judgement on whether genocide has occurred is a matter for competent courts, rather than for governments. Although we will not formally be observing the 'Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day' our thoughts will be with the Armenian people

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
24th Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon on 12 March (HL13797), whether the principle of ‘do no harm’ also applies to economic sanctions on Syria; and what assessment they have made of the statement by the UN Office of the High Commissioner on 7 August 2020 that sanctions “are bringing suffering and death" in countries like Syria.

The UK remains committed to supporting a political settlement to the conflict in Syria in line with UNSCR 2254. Sanctions remain a key lever to press the regime to engage seriously with the political process. We remain committed to the principle of 'do no harm' with sanctions in Syria and seek to minimise the impact of sanctions on ordinary Syrians. We carefully target specific individuals and entities who are part of a new wave of emerging elites that have profited from the conflict. We do not sanction medicine, medical equipment and medical assistance. Items required to fight the COVID-19 pandemic are not subject to direct restrictions on export, supply, financing or use in Syria.

The Assad regime and its backers blame 'Western' sanctions for the failing economy in Syria. In reality, the regime has devastated its own economy through cronyism, corruption and brutality and must be held to account.

The UK remains at the forefront of the humanitarian response to the crisis in Syria and the region, and will continue to be so. We have now committed £3.7 billion to the Syria Crisis since 2012, our largest ever response to a single humanitarian crisis

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
8th Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made (1) of allocating Official Development Assistance (ODA) to the Middle Belt in Nigeria, and (2) targeting any such ODA to those displaced by farmer-herder conflict.

The UK remains committed to supporting Nigeria's development. As the Foreign Secretary set out in his statement to Parliament, the impact of the global pandemic on the UK economy has forced us to take the tough, but necessary decision to temporarily reduce the Official Development Assistance (ODA) budget. We are now working through the implications of these changes for individual programmes in Nigeria and we will release further information once allocations have been approved by Ministers.

We continue to encourage the Nigerian Government to take urgent action to protect all those at risk of intercommunal violence to bring perpetrators to justice and to implement long-term solutions that address the root causes of such violence and meet the needs of all communities.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
8th Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of reports of attacks by Fulani herders against Yoruba communities in south-west Nigeria.

The UK remains committed to supporting Nigeria's development. As the Foreign Secretary set out in his statement to Parliament, the impact of the global pandemic on the UK economy has forced us to take the tough, but necessary decision to temporarily reduce the Official Development Assistance (ODA) budget. We are now working through the implications of these changes for individual programmes in Nigeria and we will release further information once allocations have been approved by Ministers.

We continue to encourage the Nigerian Government to take urgent action to protect all those at risk of intercommunal violence to bring perpetrators to justice and to implement long-term solutions that address the root causes of such violence and meet the needs of all communities.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
2nd Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to encourage the UN Secretary-General to lead a high level delegation to Myanmar to exert political and diplomatic pressure on the military to (1) desist from further use of force in response to protests, (2) step down, and (3) seek a political solution that recognises the legitimate will of the people of that country as expressed in the elections in November 2020.


The UK values the close cooperation with ASEAN partners on this. ASEAN has an important role to play. We welcome the statement from the informal ASEAN meeting on 2 March which stressed ASEAN's commitment to seeking a resolution in line with their principles on the rule of law, good governance, and the principles of democracy and constitutional government as set out in the ASEAN charter. I formally met the Secretary General of ASEAN and discussed the UK's extreme concern regarding the military coup in Myanmar and the detention of civil society and members of the elected government.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
2nd Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to encourage the Association of South-East Asian Nations to increase efforts to address the crisis in Myanmar including (1) withholding recognition of the military junta, and (2) suspending Myanmar from its membership of the organisation until a legitimate, elected, civilian-led government is restored.

The UK values the close cooperation with ASEAN partners on this. ASEAN has an important role to play. We welcome the statement from the informal ASEAN meeting on 2 March which stressed ASEAN's commitment to seeking a resolution in line with their principles on the rule of law, good governance, and the principles of democracy and constitutional government as set out in the ASEAN charter. I formally met the Secretary General of ASEAN and discussed the UK's extreme concern regarding the military coup in Myanmar and the detention of civil society and members of the elected government.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
2nd Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to introduce targeted sanctions against (1) Myanmar’s generals, and (2) enterprises owned by the Myanmar military.

As I informed the house on 25th of February, The UK is looking at a range of measures to target those responsible for serious human rights violations in Myanmar. Working with partners, including the US and Canada, we have sanctioned 9 military officers, including the Commander-in-Chief, for their role in the coup. Prior to the coup, the UK had already imposed targeted sanctions on 16 individuals for human rights violations in Myanmar.

We remain committed to the principle of 'do no harm' with sanctions, and therefore wish to ensure that any measures balance the risk of disproportionately affecting poor people in Myanmar and imposing a cost on the military. In addition as set out in the written ministerial statement of 25 February we are reviewing our approach to Trade and Investment in Myanmar, and while that review takes place have suspended all trade promotion activity. The Foreign Secretary and the International Trade Secretary are writing to British Companies active in Myanmar to make clear our expectation that they do nothing to support the military.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
2nd Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to mobilise international action in response to reports of the use of lethal force against protesters in Myanmar on 28 February.

The UK was appalled at the news that protestors have died from injuries inflicted by the military. The violent crackdown on peaceful protesters is completely unacceptable and requires a strong message from the international community. As a champion of the rules based international order, we are working closely with partners to deliver a strong international response, including in our role as President of the G7. On 23 February, we secured a G7 statement which further condemned the coup and the violent response unleashed on peaceful protestors. We are convening the UN Security Council on 5 March.

Working with partners, including the US and Canada, we have sanctioned 9 military officers, including the Commander-in-Chief, for their role in the coup. We are working with partners to consider further action to apply pressure on the military.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
2nd Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the speech on 26 February by the Ambassador of Myanmar to the UN and his subsequent dismissal from that role, what engagement they have had with the (1) Committee Representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw; and (2) the former Ambassador of Myanmar to the UN; and if no such engagement has taken place, what future engagement they propose.

We commend the courage of Myanmar's UN Ambassador in speaking out against the coup. He joins the people of Myanmar in resoundingly rejecting military rule. We stand with him - democracy must be restored. The Foreign Secretary tweeted his support to the Ambassador after his speech. The UK Ambassador to the UN met with him on 2 March. We continue to engage with the Committee Representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw, who represent a body of MPs elected in November. They are an important voice for many in Myanmar. We coordinated with them to read out excerpts from their statements at the Special Session of the Human Rights Council on 12 February, and at the UN General Assembly meeting on 26 February.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
2nd Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to mobilise the international community in support of a global arms embargo on Myanmar.

The UK is a longstanding supporter of an arms embargo on Myanmar. We are clear that countries should not sell arms to the Myanmar military. The UK played a key role in securing and strengthening an EU arms embargo on Myanmar following the 2017 Rohingya crisis. Since we left the EU we have transitioned this into domestic law. The UK autonomous Myanmar sanctions regulations prohibit the provision of military related services, including the provision of technical assistance, to or for the benefit of the Tatmadaw. We are working closely with partners to apply pressure to those selling arms to the Tatmadaw.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
23rd Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to advocate for a global arms embargo on the military regime in Myanmar.

The UK is a longstanding supporter of an arms embargo on Myanmar. We are clear that no one should sell arms to the Myanmar military. The UK played a key role in securing and strengthening an EU arms embargo on Myanmar following the 2017 Rohingya crisis. Since we left the EU we have transitioned this into domestic law. The UK autonomous Myanmar sanctions regulations prohibit the provision of military related services, including the provision of technical assistance, to or for the benefit of the Tatmadaw. We will work closely with partners to put pressure on those who sell arms to Myanmar.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
22nd Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the government of Azerbaijan about reports that Azerbaijani forces (1) have treated captured ethnic Armenian troops inhumanely, and (2) used cluster munitions and artillery rockets, in the conflict in the Nagorno-Karabakh region.

The UK Government is deeply concerned by allegations that cluster munitions and artillery rockets were used by both sides during the recent Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and that prisoners of war have been subjected to cruel, degrading or inhuman treatment. During her recent visits to Armenia and Azerbaijan the Minister for the European Neighbourhood and the Americas urged both parties to ensure thorough investigations into all allegations, and welcomed those Azerbaijani investigations already underway.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
22nd Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they have taken to respond to appeals for the urgent delivery of cross-border humanitarian assistance in Burma.

UK aid provides life-saving humanitarian assistance to around 460,000 conflict affected and displaced people in Myanmar and on the Thai border. We are concerned about the impact of recent fighting in Northern Shan and Karen State on civilian populations, and the increased vulnerability of internally displaced people as a result of COVID. We provide support through a range of partners including Danish Church Aid, The Border Consortium, Joint Strategy Team partners and Health Poverty Action to reach highly vulnerable people. We are closely monitoring the impact of the recent military coup including supply routes to ensure this support reaches those in most need.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
22nd Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of reports that Leah Sharibu has been held captive by Boko Haram for three years.

The Government condemns the abduction of the Dapchi school girls in Nigeria in 2018 and the ongoing captivity of Leah Sharibu by Islamic State West Africa (ISWA). We are deeply concerned for the welfare of Leah and all those abducted by Boko Haram and ISWA. Officials at the British High Commission in Abuja raised Leah's case with the Nigerian authorities in February 2021. The Nigerian authorities have assured us that they remain committed to securing her return.

The Government is providing a comprehensive package of support to Nigeria to help tackle the terrorist threat in the North East. We regularly raise the issues of insecurity and terrorism in Nigeria at the highest levels of the Nigerian Government, and will continue to use our public messaging to call for the release of Leah and all those abducted by terrorist groups in Nigeria.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
22nd Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they have taken in response to the escalation in military offences in Karen State, Burma, which has resulted in the reported displacement of over 5,000 civilians.

The UK strongly condemns the repeated violations of the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement by the Tatmadaw in Kayin State. We raised this at the Special Session of the Human Rights Council on 12 February. The UK is currently providing humanitarian support to the around 5,000 displaced civilians in Kayin State through our partners, The Border Consortium and Danish Church Aid. There are continuing access constraints because the Myanmar military is reportedly blocking access. UK aid supports 158,000 displaced, conflict affected people and refugees in the Southeast and Thai Border. We continue to monitor the situation closely.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
22nd Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to implement targeted sanctions against military-owned enterprises in Burma.

The UK is looking at a range of measures to ensure the democratic wishes of the people of Myanmar are respected. On 18 February, we announced the immediate imposition of asset freezes and travel bans against three members of the Myanmar military regime for their role in serious human rights violations during the coup. Prior to this, the UK had already imposed targeted sanctions on 16 individuals responsible for human rights violations in Myanmar. This includes the Commander-in-Chief and his Deputy.

The military's influence is pervasive across Myanmar's economy and we have long been clear that Myanmar needs responsible investors. Her Majesty's Government works closely with UK businesses to ensure that they conduct thorough due diligence to try and avoid exposure to military businesses. We will continue to work closely with international partners on next steps, this includes exploring further sanctions.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
28th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the report by the Shan Human Rights Foundation Blackening our future: Burma Army-linked coal mining expansion in war-torn northern Shan State, published on 27 January, what representations they have made to the government of Myanmar about (1) the expansion of coal-mining operations by their army and Ngwe Yi Pale in Shan State, and (2) any resulting (a) destruction of property, and (b) forced displacement of people, resulting from such expansion.

The UK is aware of the recent displacements caused by the expansion of the coal-mining operations in Shan State, and mounted a response through its partners within the first week. Initially, 82 houses were destroyed, resulting in 3,891 people being displaced. UK humanitarian assistance targeted and is reaching 2,325 of those displaced with emergency food and medical support. Since 22 January, there are 1,073 people who remain displaced, with the rest now staying with host families or returning to Ngwe Yi Pale.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
28th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they have taken to provide humanitarian support for people who have been internally displaced from Shan State in Myanmar due to the expansion of coal-mining operations by the Myanmar Army and Ngwe Yi Pale.

The UK is aware of the recent displacements caused by the expansion of the coal-mining operations in Shan State, and mounted a response through its partners within the first week. Initially, 82 houses were destroyed, resulting in 3,891 people being displaced. UK humanitarian assistance targeted and is reaching 2,325 of those displaced with emergency food and medical support. Since 22 January, there are 1,073 people who remain displaced, with the rest now staying with host families or returning to Ngwe Yi Pale.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
15th Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to their statement at the special OSCE Permanent Council on 29 September, what assessment they have made of whether a sustainable peace in the Nagorno-Karabakh region can be brought about by a negotiated settlement between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

The UK Government firmly believes that a negotiated settlement between Armenia and Azerbaijan, in line with the Basic Principles, is the only lasting solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
15th Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what was the total value of goods and services (1) exported by the UK to, (2) imported to the UK from, (a) Armenia, and (b) Azerbaijan in each year since 2015; and how much Official Development Assistance they provided to those countries in each of those years.

The table below illustrates the total value of goods and services (1) exported by the UK to, (2) imported to the UK from, (a) Armenia, and (b) Azerbaijan in each year since 2015 (non-seasonally adjusted ONS data):

UK Trade, goods and services, nominal basis.

£ million

2015

2016

2017

2018

2019

UK Exports to

Armenia

24

31

104

27

28

Azerbaijan

1,102

727

543

679

780

UK Imports from

Armenia

1

7

13

4

6

Azerbaijan

149

207

168

363

309

Since 2015 the UK's main contribution of ODA to Armenia and Azerbaijan has been through the Conflict, Stability and Security Fund (CSSF), delivering projects in support of stability objectives, including economic and governance reform. In Armenia this totals approximately £11.5 million and in Azerbaijan £700k. In addition, the UK has delivered a range of other projects through funds such as the FCDO's International Programme, the Magna Carta Fund and the Open Futures Fund.

This table illustrates CSSF direct spend in country per year; figures are rounded and approximate due to, for example, changes in exchange rates and do not reflect regional projects which also benefit both countries. In addition, Conflict Pool programmes (CSSF's predecessor) that operated in the region prior to FY2015/16 are not reported here.

Financial Year

Armenia

Azerbaijan

2015/16

£0.05m

£0.12m

2016/17

£0.65m

£0.26m

2017/18

£0.61m

£0.12m

2018/19

£2.43m

£0.07m

2019/20

£3.71m

£0.09m

2020/21 (to date)

£4.07m

£0.03m

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
14th Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the remarks by the government of the United States' special representative for Syria engagement and special envoy to the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, on 9 December, what discussions they have had with that government about whether its objectives in Syria include  (1) the denial of territory, and (2) resources to, the government of Syria.

HMG regularly discusses the situation in Syria with the US administration. On 22 October the Foreign Secretary and US Secretary of State, along with foreign ministers of other likeminded countries, issued a joint statement that made clear our support for a political solution to end the conflict, as set out in UN Security Council Resolution 2254. That statement once again reaffirmed our shared position that such a solution must preserve the territorial integrity, unity, and sovereignty of Syria. We will continue to use targeted sanctions to increase pressure on the Assad regime to engage seriously with the political process.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
14th Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the statement by the government of the United States' special representative for Syria engagement and special envoy to the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, on 9 December that sanctions against Syria have been a “very effective strategy”.

US Sanctions are a matter for the US government. The UK has imposed sanctions on Syria to end the violent repression of civilians in Syria. These sanctions send a clear message to the regime and its supporters, that we will not stand by whilst the regime continues to commit serious human rights abuses. We continue to impose sanctions on those responsible in order to maintain pressure for a political settlement to end the conflict.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
3rd Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of reports by Human Rights Watch that Azerbaijani forces have inhumanely treated ethnic Armenian troops captured in the conflict in the Nagorno-Karabakh region.

The UK Government welcomes the ceasefire agreement between Armenia and Azerbaijan. We have not made an assessment of the reports by Human Rights Watch. However, the UK Government is aware of reports that both sides may have mistreated civilians and military prisoners of war during the conflict and afterwards. The Minister for the European Neighbourhood has been in regular contact with the Armenian and Azerbaijani Foreign Ministers since the outbreak of hostilities in September and has urged credible investigation of these reports.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
26th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Sugg on 19 November (HL10161), what steps they have taken to prevent the Azerbaijani Armed Forces (1) abusing, and (2) killing, prisoners captured during the ceasefire evacuation of the Nagorno-Karabakh region.

The UK Government is deeply concerned by the allegations from both sides that war crimes have been committed. Where it is possible to verify footage and reports, we will raise our concerns with the relevant Governments. It is for those governments to ensure that their armed forces do not commit war crimes and to investigate any such allegations. The Minister for the European Neighbourhood the Americas emphasised these points during her recent calls with the Foreign Ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
26th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made (1) to NATO, (2) to the Collective Security Treaty Organization, and (3) to the government of Israel, about immediately suspending the provision of all (a) lethal military supplies, (b) non-lethal military supplies, and (c) technical assistance to Azerbaijan until the government of Azerbaijan renounces the use of violence against Armenian Christians in the Nagorno-Karabakh region.

The UK Government has made no representations to NATO, the CSTO or the Government of Israel on these topics. We have repeatedly condemned the shelling of civilian areas by both sides in the conflict.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
26th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what proportion of the £1 million Nagorno-Karabakh aid package they announced on 31 October will go to displaced Armenians; and what steps they have taken to enable displaced Armenians to return to their homes.

The funds provided to the ICRC are intended for the support of all people affected by the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh region, according to need. The UK Government does not dictate what percentage of funds should be allocated to either party. The Minister for the European Neighbourhood and the Americas highlighted the importance of protecting all civilians, including displaced persons in her recent calls with the Foreign Ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
26th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of President Macron's statement on 1 October that “we have information today that indicates with certainty that Syrian fighters from jihadist groups have transited through Gaziantep to reach the theatre of operations in Nagorno-Karabakh.”

The UK Government noted the 11 November statement of the UN Working Group on the use of mercenaries, in which the Group said it had received reports that both Azerbaijan and Armenia had deployed foreign fighters in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. While the Government is also aware of such reports, we have not yet seen solid evidence to substantiate the claims. The UK Government has made no assessment of President Macron's 1 October statement and is not aware of the specific information to which he referred.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
26th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the statement of the United Nations working group on the use of mercenaries on 11 November that “the Government of Azerbaijan, with Turkey’s assistance, relied on Syrian fighters to shore-up and sustain its military operations in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone, including on the frontline”; and what assessment they have made of the participation of Syrian fighters in the conflict in the Nagorno-Karabakh region.

The UK Government noted the 11 November statement of the UN Working Group on the use of mercenaries, in which the Group said it had received reports that both Azerbaijan and Armenia had deployed foreign fighters in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. While the Government is also aware of such reports, we have not yet seen solid evidence to substantiate the claims. The UK Government has made no assessment of President Macron's 1 October statement and is not aware of the specific information to which he referred.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
26th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons about (1) an investigation into whether chemical weapons have been used by Azerbaijan in the Nagorno-Karabakh region, and (2) securing assistance to protect civilians against the effects of such an attack.

The UK Government has had no such discussions with the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. We have seen no evidence that chemical weapons have been used in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. We continue to monitor the situation closely.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
23rd Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they employ any staff based in Nigeria’s Middle Belt region who are responsible for monitoring (1) religious persecution, and (2) human rights abuses, in those states.

The UK Government maintains a network of regional offices in Nigeria, including in Kaduna State. This network facilitates information gathering and engagement with state governments for our High Commission in Abuja. The network monitors human rights issues, including freedom of religion and belief. We will continue to make clear to the Nigerian authorities at the highest levels the importance of protecting human rights for all.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
23rd Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have provided assistance to any programmes which support Christian communities in Nigeria's Middle Belt region since 2018; and if so, which programmes.

The Government works with a range of partners in Nigeria but does not allocate aid on the basis of faith or religion. Since 2018, the Government has provided funding to Christian NGOs, including the Christian Blind Mission and the Christian Association of Nigeria. The FCDO works with the Christian Association of Nigeria alongside other faith-based organisations to support community peacebuilding and conflict management efforts. The FCDO has also provided funding for Christian Aid and the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development to support communities recently displaced due to violence in Kaduna State, which includes Christian communities. We continue to encourage the Government of Nigeria to take urgent action to protect those at risk of intercommunal violence, to bring perpetrators to justice and to implement long-term solutions that address the root causes of violence and meet the needs of all communities.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
23rd Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have provided any funding to Christian non-governmental organisations in Nigeria since 2018; and if so, which organisations.

The Government works with a range of partners in Nigeria but does not allocate aid on the basis of faith or religion. Since 2018, the Government has provided funding to Christian NGOs, including the Christian Blind Mission and the Christian Association of Nigeria. The FCDO works with the Christian Association of Nigeria alongside other faith-based organisations to support community peacebuilding and conflict management efforts. The FCDO has also provided funding for Christian Aid and the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development to support communities recently displaced due to violence in Kaduna State, which includes Christian communities. We continue to encourage the Government of Nigeria to take urgent action to protect those at risk of intercommunal violence, to bring perpetrators to justice and to implement long-term solutions that address the root causes of violence and meet the needs of all communities.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
10th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of reports that captured Armenians have been beheaded and tortured by the Azerbaijani Armed Forces; and what steps they are taking (1) to bring to justice those responsible for, and (2) to prevent, any such crimes.

We are deeply concerned by accusations from both sides that war crimes were committed. Where it is possible to verify reports of alleged violations, we will do so and we will raise these with the parties involved. The Minister for the European Neighbourhood spoke to both the Armenian and Azerbaijani Foreign Ministers on 28 October and highlighted UK concern over reports of war crimes. The UK's position remains that States have the primary responsibility to prosecute crimes within their national jurisdiction.

10th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they vetoed a proposal for a ceasefire in the Nagorno-Karabakh region at a meeting of the UN Security Council; and if so, why.

The UK did not veto a proposal for a ceasefire in the Nagorno-Karabakh region at a meeting of the UN Security Council. A Presidential Statement was proposed at the Security Council and whilst the Council was united in seeking an end to the conflict, members were unable to reach an agreed version of the text.

19th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the statement by the Nigerian House of Representatives on  4 July 2018 declaring killings in predominantly Christian villages in Plateau State to be a genocide and calling on the federal government of Nigeria to establish orphanages in areas affected by violence.

The UK Government condemns all incidents of intercommunal violence in Nigeria. We have made clear to the Nigerian authorities at the highest levels the importance of protecting civilians, including ethnic and religious minorities, and human rights for all. We do not assess religious identity to be the principal driver of most incidents of intercommunal violence. The root causes are more complex and relate frequently to competition for resources and failures of governance.

We are aware of the advisory resolution passed by the Nigerian House of Representatives in July 2018. It is UK Government policy not to unilaterally determine whether genocide has occurred, in line with the Genocide Convention. This is a matter for competent courts and tribunals, including the International Criminal Court, after consideration of all the evidence, rather than governments or non-judicial bodies. We encourage additional measures by the Nigerian Government to protect children affected by conflict across the country.

19th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the government of Nigeria to encourage the investigation of the number of Christians killed in that country since 2001.

The Government condemns all violence against civilians in Nigeria, irrespective of their religion. Boko Haram and Islamic State West Africa (ISWA) seek to undermine the Nigerian constitutional right to freedom of religion or belief by deliberately attacking both Christian and Muslim communities and religious leaders. We assess that the majority of Boko Haram and ISWA's victims have been Muslim. Intercommunal violence across multiple states in Nigeria is having a devastating impact on communities of all faiths.

We have made clear to the Nigerian authorities at the highest levels the importance of protecting all civilians, including ethnic and religious minorities, and human rights for all. The Minister for Africa discussed the impact of violence in Nigeria with President Buhari's Chief of Staff in June. We will continue to engage with the federal and state authorities to stress the importance of transparent investigations that respect human rights and the rule of law.

19th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the situation in Plateau State, Nigeria; and what (1) financial, and (2) technical, assistance they intend to provide (a) to strengthen the rule of law, and (b) to protect freedom of religion or belief, in that region.

The Government condemns all incidents of violence in Nigeria, including recent attacks in Plateau State. Intercommunal violence continues to have a devastating effect on local communities across multiple states. We are working with Nigeria to respond to the drivers of conflict, which include disputes over natural resources, competition over land, and population growth. We have provided technical support to the Nigerian Government for the development of the National Livestock Transformation Plan. The Plan aims to promote cattle-rearing in one place, rather than the traditional nomadic practice, to limit competition over land and resources leading to violence. The Plan is currently being implemented in eight Middle Belt states in Nigeria, including Plateau state. The UK is firmly committed to promoting and protecting the right to freedom of religion or belief around the world. The British High Commissioner and her team are increasing their engagement with state governments in areas affected by the violence, including Plateau state. The High Commission team have met with Governors; Christian and Muslim faith leaders; Fulani communities; NGOs active in reconciliation, and affected communities including displaced persons. We are also developing a new conflict, security and justice programme, which aims to reduce levels of intercommunal violence through the development of more effective conflict-management systems.

We will continue to encourage the Government of Nigeria to take urgent action to protect those at risk of intercommunal violence, to bring perpetrators to justice and to implement long-term solutions that address the root causes of violence and meet the needs of all communities. To strengthen the rule of law across Nigeria, we have supported a new police bill, engaging the National Assembly and providing technical support to National Assembly members considering the draft legislation. On 17th September President Buhari signed the Police Establishment Act into law. The bill seeks to create a more efficient and effective police force that is based on the principles of accountability and transparency; and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms. The UK Government is deeply concerned by violence during protests in Lagos and other major cities in Nigeria, which has tragically claimed a number of lives. We will continue to work with the Nigerian Government and international and civil society partners in support of police reform and improvements in the human rights records and accountability of the Nigerian security services.

15th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the Bill before the French National Assembly to recognise the Republic of Artsakh; and what plans they have to introduce similar such legislation.

The OSCE Minsk Group is the international forum via which a peaceful settlement to the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan should be reached. We consider that the Basic Principles for a settlement proposed by the Minsk Group co-chairs provide the basis for a reasonable compromise in this regard, taking due account of the relevant OSCE principles governing relations between member-states. The UK Government has no plans to introduce similar legislation to the French National Assembly.

15th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the Southern Kaduna People’s Union letter to the International Criminal Court's chief prosecutor published in July calling on the International Criminal Court to act against the “pernicious genocide” in northern Nigeria.

We have seen the letter to the International Criminal Court's Chief Prosecutor from the Southern Kaduna People's Union. We condemn all incidents of intercommunal violence affecting both Christian and Muslim communities in Nigeria, including recent attacks in Kaduna State. We also condemn acts of terrorism in North East Nigeria, including those committed by Boko Haram and Islamic State West Africa. It is important that we do not conflate these distinct conflicts as it risks exacerbating tensions. It is UK Government policy not to unilaterally determine whether genocide has occurred, in line with the Genocide Convention. This is a matter for competent courts and tribunals, including the International Criminal Court, after consideration of all the evidence, rather than governments or non-judicial bodies.

The UK continues to play an active role in helping Nigeria to tackle conflict. We call on the Nigerian Government to take urgent action to protect those at risk violence, bring perpetrators to justice and implement long-term solutions that address the root causes of conflict.

14th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with the State Department of the United States about reports that that Department is drawing up a revised draft sanctions list for the government of Turkey should that government continue to encourage and promote conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh region, Armenia and Azerbaijan; if they have not had any such discussions, whether they plan to do so; and what plans they have, if any, to introduce similar such sanctions.

The FCDO remains in close contact with the U.S. and other partners regarding the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh region. We urge all external parties and friends of both states to redouble their efforts in support of an end to hostilities and to refrain from taking actions that risk exacerbating the crisis. A comprehensive resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is overdue. That can only be delivered through a negotiated settlement and not through military action. All parties must urgently return to the negotiating table to work toward this aim without preconditions.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
13th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what (1) humanitarian, and (2) reconstruction, assistance they have provided in (a) Latakia, (b) Tartus, and (c) central Homs, Syria, following forest fires in those provinces.

We are closely monitoring the situation in all three provinces, and are in touch with our partners on the ground. The UN Country Team and the Area Humanitarian Country Team in Tartous held emergency meetings on 10 and 11 October to discuss rapid interventions and actions. UN OCHA has also sent an assessment team to the areas to determine the level of damage caused. As this work is still ongoing, we are not able to judge if further humanitarian support is needed.

The UK will not provide reconstruction support in Syria without a credible, substantive and genuine political process firmly underway.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
12th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of reports of the shelling of Shushi Cathedral by the Azerbaijan military; what representations they have made to the governments of Azerbaijan and Turkey about this attack; and what assessment they have made of the compatibility of the involvement of the government of Turkey in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict with its continued membership of NATO.

We are deeply concerned by the reports of shelling of civilian areas, including places of worship, in the cities of Stepanakert and Ganja and their surrounding areas. The Minister for the European Neighbourhood and Americas spoke to the Armenian and Azerbaijani Foreign Ministers on 28 September. She raised UK concerns over civilian casualties and fatalities, urged immediate de-escalation and reinforced the importance of returning to negotiations within the framework of the OSCE Minsk Group. The UK continues to engage actively with international partners in support of these objectives. The Prime Minister discussed the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh with President Erdogan on 28 September, the Minister for the European Neighbourhood and Americas raised with Deputy Foreign Minister Onal on 2 October and the Secretary of State for Defence raised with his counterpart during a visit to Ankara on 6 October. Turkey is a key NATO ally, and sits on the frontline of some of the most difficult and serious challenges we face. We will continue to work closely with Turkey within NATO on challenges to peace and security.

12th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of proposals to give the Nagorno-Karabakh region independence; and what plans they have (1) to support these proposals, and (2) to ask the OSCE Minsk Group to take these proposals forward as a matter of urgency.

The UK supports the OSCE Minsk Group Process and the Basic Principles which include a return of the territories surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh to Azerbaijani control and the acceptance of a free expression of will on the status of Nagorno-Karabakh.

12th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of reports that foreign mercenaries and jihadist fighters have been deployed by Azerbaijan in the Nagorno-Karabakh region; and what discussions they have had with the government of Azerbaijan about the presence and role of these groups in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

The UK is aware of media reporting that foreign fighters may be involved in fighting in and around the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone. External intervention in the conflict risks prolonging it and is not in anyone's interests. The UK continues to urge all actors to use their influence to ensure an end to the hostilities and a return to the negotiating table.

12th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon on 23 September (HL7966), what plans they have to support calls for the establishment of a UN Commission of Inquiry to investigate reported human rights abuses in Xinjiang.

Evidence about the range and extent of human rights violations is well-established, including evidence from the Chinese authorities' own publicly-available government documents and satellite imagery. The UN has made clear recommendations to China, including to release those arbitrarily detained in camps. We have repeatedly called on China to urgently implement those recommendations and allow unfettered access to the High Commissioner for Human Rights and UN experts, most recently on 6 October at the UN Third Committee alongside 38 other countries.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
12th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what information they have on the status of Mubarak Bala.

The UK Government remains concerned about the continued detention of Mubarak Bala and we are monitoring his case closely. We continue to make representations to the Nigerian Government on Mr Bala's case. Most recently, our High Commissioner raised the case with Foreign Minister Onyeama on 6 October, and with the Inspector General of the Nigerian Police Force on 18 September. The Minister for Africa discussed the case with Foreign Minister Onyeama in May. We welcome the news that Mr Bala was granted access to legal representation on 7 October and that a hearing is scheduled for 15 October. We continue to stress to the Nigerian Government the importance of a transparent investigation that respects Mr Bala's human rights, the rule of law, and the Nigerian constitutional right to freedom of religion or belief.

Defending freedom of religion or belief for all remains a UK Government priority and we will continue to use our voice internationally to protect this human right.

8th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of reports that Shushi Cathedral in Nagorno-Karabakh has been damaged by shelling; what representations they have made to the governments of Azerbaijan and Turkey about the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh; and what discussions they have had with the government of Turkey about the compatibility of its membership with NATO and its role in the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

We are deeply concerned by the reports of shelling of civilian areas, including places of worship, including the cities of Stepanakert and Ganja and their surrounding areas. The Minister for the European Neighbourhood and Americas spoke to the Armenian and Azerbaijani Foreign Ministers on 28 September. She raised UK concerns over civilian casualties and fatalities, urged immediate de-escalation and reinforced the importance of returning to negotiations within the framework of the OSCE Minsk Group.

The UK continues to engage actively with international partners in support of these objectives. The Prime Minister discussed the situation in Nagorno Karabakh with President Erdogan on 28 September, the Minister for the European Neighbourhood and Americas raised with Deputy Foreign Minister Onal on 2 October and the Secretary of State for Defence raised with his counterpart during a visit to Ankara on 6 October.

Turkey is a key NATO ally, and sits on the frontline of some of the most difficult and serious challenges we face. We will continue to work closely with Turkey within NATO on challenges to peace and security.

17th Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what action they are taking to support religious and minority belief communities in China which have been negatively affected by COVID-19.

We regularly raise our serious concerns about the treatment of religious and minority groups in China, including the gross human rights violations taking place in Xinjiang, both at the UN and directly with China. The Foreign Secretary did so most recently on 28 July with his Chinese counterpart, Foreign Minister and State Councillor Wang Yi, while I expressed our deep concerns at the 45th Session of UN Human Rights Council during the Item 4 General Debate on 25 September.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
15th Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what humanitarian assistance they are providing to internally displaced people in the Oromia Region in Ethiopia; and what steps they have taken to protect civilians displaced by conflict in that area.

In Oromia region, the UK is providing vital humanitarian aid to people affected by forced displacement including nutrition assistance to women and children, safe drinking water, health care services and shelter. The UK Government is working with UN partners and the Government of Ethiopia to ensure that the UK's assistance is well targeted and reaches the most vulnerable, including those displaced by conflict.

During his visit to Ethiopia last month, the UK's Minister for Africa met with the Regional President of Oromia and discussed the importance of development and improving people's livelihoods to address grievances in the region.

15th Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the government of Ethiopia about reports that at least 500 Christians have been killed in that country since June.

The UK is concerned by recent reports of violence in Ethiopia following the murder of Hachalu Hundessa on 29 June, and the widespread ethnically-driven violence that followed in Addis Ababa and the Oromia region. We have confirmed reports of over 200 killed in protests in June/July and my [Baroness Sugg] sympathies go to all those affected. Religious affiliation tends to be drawn along ethnic lines in Ethiopia. We assess that faith has not tended to be a reason for division in Ethiopia, which has been known as a notably multi-faith and tolerant society. However, we are concerned that some of the rhetoric around violence in recent months has taken a religious dimension. The Minister for Africa visited Ethiopia from 27 - 29 July and was able to discuss recent events with the President, Deputy Prime Minister, Foreign Minister and the President of Oromia Region. He pushed for full and transparent investigations of the violence and that those detained are afforded due process and their cases heard promptly. The Minister for Africa also expressed the need for more peaceful dialogue between different groups in Ethiopia and for space to be given for political debate. We shall continue to monitor the situation, raise our concerns at the deaths of civilians and to raise the importance of respect for human rights in meetings with the Ethiopian Government and regional leaders.

15th Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what further representations they have made to the government of Nigeria to encourage (1) the investigation, and (2) the prosecution, of (a) war crimes, (b) crimes against humanity, and (c) other human rights abuses.

The Nigerian authorities have a responsibility to investigate and prosecute all war crimes, crimes against humanity and other human rights abuses committed on their territory. We continue to make clear to the Nigerian authorities, at the highest levels the importance of protecting civilians including ethnic and religious minorities, and human rights for all. The Minister for Africa discussed the impact of violence in Nigeria with President Buhari's Chief of Staff, on 29 June.

An International Criminal Court (ICC) preliminary examination into the situation in Nigeria commenced in 2010, and focussed on alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity including by Boko Haram in the North East. The ICC Prosecutor acknowledged that steps have been taken by the Nigerian authorities to investigate these offences but requested further information and evidence demonstrating that relevant national proceedings are being conducted or are intended to be conducted.

The Nigerian Human Rights Commission, set up by the Nigerian Federal Government, also serves as an extra-judicial mechanism to safeguard the human rights of Nigerians. The UK Government will continue to push for allegations of war crimes, crimes against humanity and other human rights abuses to be investigated by the Nigerian authorities, and for those responsible to be held to account. Suspects should have access to justice and cases should be carried out in accordance with Nigerian law and international human rights standards.

15th Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the scale of attacks by Islamists on Muslim communities in Nigeria; and what data sources they used to inform any such assessment.

The UK Government condemns all killings and incidents of violence against innocent Nigerian civilians, including terrorist attacks in North East Nigeria. Terrorist groups including Boko Haram and Islamic State West Africa (ISWA) have caused immense suffering to both Muslim and Christian communities. These groups seek to undermine the right to freedom of religion or belief by indiscriminately attacking those of all faiths who do not subscribe to their extremist views.

The UK Government draws on a range of robust data sources to assess the scale of attacks by terrorist groups on communities across Nigeria, including in the North East, where the majority of the population is Muslim. These sources include the Armed Conflict and Location Event Data (ACLED) database and UN reporting. The UK remains committed to supporting Nigeria and its neighbours in the fight against Boko Haram and ISWA.

9th Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to apply sanctions to any Chinese Communist Party Official found to be responsible for the forced sterilisation of or other human rights abuse against Uyghur Muslims in China.

The FCDO are carefully considering further designations under the Global Human Rights regime. We will keep all evidence and potential listings under close review. It is not appropriate to speculate on who may be designated in the future, as to do so could reduce their impact.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
9th Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to support the proposal by UN independent experts on 26 June for (1) a UN Human Rights Council special session on China, and (2) the appointment of a dedicated UN special rapporteur on human rights in China.

The UK is committed to working with international partners at the UN to raise our serious concerns about Human Rights in China. We have played a leading role at the Human Rights Council, and in the UN Third Committee to register the breadth and depth of international concern. On 30 June, the UK read out a formal statement on behalf of 28 countries at the 44th session of the UN Human Rights Council highlighting arbitrary detention, widespread surveillance and restrictions, particularly those targeting Uyghurs and other minorities, and urging China to allow the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights meaningful access to Xinjiang. On 29 October 2019 the UK read out a statement on Xinjiang on behalf of 23 countries at the UN Third Committee in New York. We will continue to seek opportunities in relevant UN fora to maximise pressure on China to comply with international human rights norms.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
9th Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they (1) to attend, and (3) to support, the independent tribunal established by Sir Geoffrey Nice QC to examine whether the Uyghur people are being subjected to genocide.

We have serious concerns about gross abuses of human rights occurring in Xinjiang and welcome any work that is rigorous, balanced and raises awareness of the situation faced by Uyghurs and other minorities in China. We are aware of this initiative by Sir Geoffrey Nice QC, and will study any resulting report carefully.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
2nd Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon on 16 July (HL6213), (1) when, and (2) how, they intend to transfer existing EU sanctions relating to Syria into UK law; and whether Parliament will be given time to discuss that transfer.

Her Majesty's Government is transferring existing EU sanctions into UK law through regulations made under the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act 2018, including the Syria (Sanctions) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019. These regulations will come into force on 1 January 2021, at which point existing EU sanctions will become autonomous UK sanctions. The Syria (Sanctions) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 were debated and approved in both Houses in April and May 2019.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
2nd Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of reports that militants from the Islamic State's West Africa Province abducted residents from Kukawa, Borno State, who had only recently returned home from refugee camps after local government officials claimed their town was safe; and what representations they have made to the government of Nigeria about the recent escalation of Islamist attacks in Nigeria’s northern and central-belt states.

We are concerned by reports that civilians from the town of Kukawa, Borno State, North East Nigeria were abducted by Islamic State West Africa after recently returning to the town from internally displaced persons' camps. The High Commission in Abuja has raised our concerns with the Governor of Borno State. We have made clear to the Nigerian authorities the importance of ensuring that returns take place in accordance with international guidelines, and have urged the UN and Borno State Government to re-convene the returns task force so the taskforce can advise on whether locations are safe for returns.

The UK Government condemns all abductions by terrorist groups in Nigeria, including Islamic State West Africa. We are providing a comprehensive package of security, recovery and stabilisation assistance to help Nigeria tackle the terrorist threat and provide humanitarian assistance to meet the lifesaving needs of vulnerable communities.

The UK Government also condemns all incidents of intercommunal violence that occur across many states in Nigeria, including some Northern and Middle Belt states. A wide range of perpetrators are responsible for these incidents, including individuals and groups from various backgrounds and a range of faiths. Intercommunal violence affects both Christian and Muslim communities; we do not assess religion to be the principal driver of most incidents. The underlying drivers of conflict are more complex and frequently relate to competition over resources and criminality. The Minister for Africa discussed intercommunal violence with the President's Chief of Staff, Ibrahim Gambari on 29 June.

We will continue to make clear to the Nigerian authorities at the highest levels the importance of protecting civilians, including ethnic and religious minorities, and human rights for all Nigerians.

2nd Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the report by the Igbo Councillors and MPs in the UK group Report on Fulani Herdsmen killing Igbos and Christians in South East Nigeria, published in July, which cites evidence of attacks against Christians and Igbo people in Nigeria’s south-eastern states and claims that 350 Igbo villages are occupied by Fulani herders and Shuwa Arab mercenaries.

The UK Government condemns all incidents of intercommunal violence in Nigeria. While diverse communities live together peacefully across much of Nigeria, the country has experienced episodes of serious intercommunal violence, including in south-eastern states. We have made clear to the Nigerian authorities at the highest levels the importance of protecting civilians, including ethnic and religious minorities, and human rights for all.

The UK Government's assessment remains that religion is not the principal driver of most incidents of intercommunal violence in Nigeria. The underlying drivers of conflict are complex, and frequently relate to competition over resources and criminality. In February, we hosted a conference on 'Fostering Social Cohesion in Nigeria'. Attendees included representatives from civil society, faith and political leaders from across Nigeria, representatives from the Nigerian Government and UK parliamentarians. The discussion focused on the complex causes of conflict and explored solutions: a full report from the conference has been published and can be viewed on the Wilton Park website.

The UK Government is working with Nigeria to respond to the drivers of conflict. We are providing technical support to the Nigerian Government for the development of the National Livestock Transformation Plan. The plan aims to promote cattle-rearing in one place, rather than the traditional nomadic practice, to limit competition over land and resources leading to violence. The plan is currently being implemented in eight middle belt states and we are encouraging its adoption in other states, including south-eastern states.

We will continue to encourage the Government of Nigeria to take urgent action to protect those at risk of intercommunal violence, to bring perpetrators to justice and to implement long-term solutions that address the root causes and meet the needs of all communities.

2nd Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they have taken to assist law-enforcement mechanisms and courts in Nigeria with capacity-building to ensure that they investigate and prosecute perpetrators of Islamist attacks effectively.

In North East Nigeria, terrorist groups, including Boko Haram and Islamic State West Africa, have caused immense suffering to local communities. These groups seek to undermine the right to freedom of religion or belief, by indiscriminately attacking those of all faiths who do not subscribe to their extremist views.

The UK Government has supported Nigerian efforts to improve security, for example through the provision of technical assistance and capacity building to the Adamawa, Yobe and Borno State Police Forces, which emphasised the importance of fair, transparent, and respectful treatment of civilians. Local police forces play an important role in responding to the terror threat.

We have made clear to the Nigerian authorities the importance of ensuring those responsible for terrorist incidents are held to account. It is important for the stabilisation of the North East that victims and those affected by the conflict see that justice has been done. We have also made clear the importance of ensuring suspects have access to justice, and that cases are carried out in accordance with Nigerian law and international human rights standards.

2nd Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the government of Pakistan about the ruling of Lahore High Court on 4 August, which decided in favour of a man accused of kidnapping Maira Shahbaz, fabricating a marriage certificate, and forcing her to convert to Islam.

We are closely monitoring Maira Shahbaz's case following her reported abduction in April. The UK Government strongly condemns the forced marriage and forced conversion of women and girls.

We are concerned about women's and girls' rights and ongoing reports of forced marriage and forced conversion in Pakistan of women and girls from religious minorities such as Hindus, Christians and Sikhs.

We regularly raise our concerns about Freedom of Religion or Belief, women and girl's rights and gender equality with the government of Pakistan at a senior level. Most recently, I raised our human rights concerns with Pakistan's Minister for Human Rights, Dr Shireen Mazari, on 15 July.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
21st Jul 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of reports that the government of Turkey is recruiting Syrian troops to fight for the Azerbaijani military against the Armenian military.

We are not able to confirm media reporting that the Government of Turkey is recruiting Syrian troops to fight for the Azerbaijani military. The UK is deeply concerned by the recent ceasefire violations on the international border between Armenia and Azerbaijan and regrets the loss of life. We will continue to monitor the situation closely.

17th Jul 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the outbreak of violence in Tavush, north-eastern Armenia; what discussions they have had with the government of Azerbaijan about that violence; and what steps they have taken to support the government of Armenia in relation to this violence.

The Government is deeply concerned by the recent ceasefire violations on the international border between Armenia and Azerbaijan and regrets the loss of life. We continue to monitor the situation closely. The Government supports the negotiations facilitated by the Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group aimed at securing a peaceful settlement to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office statement of 14 July called for both sides to respect the ceasefire, engage in dialogue and refrain from rhetoric that could increase tensions. In our conversations with both governments we will continue to stress the need for a return to substantive talks and the importance of building confidence in the peacebuilding process.

17th Jul 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of recent pro-war demonstrations held in Baku, Azerbaijan; and what steps they have taken to promote de-escalation of tensions.

The Government is deeply concerned by the recent ceasefire violations on the international border between Armenia and Azerbaijan and regrets the loss of life. We continue to monitor the situation closely. The Government supports the negotiations facilitated by the Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group aimed at securing a peaceful settlement to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office statement of 14 July called for both sides to respect the ceasefire, engage in dialogue and refrain from rhetoric that could increase tensions. In our conversations with both governments we will continue to stress the need for a return to substantive talks and the importance of building confidence in the peacebuilding process.

13th Jul 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Sugg on 6 July (HL6060), what representations they have made to the United Nations Security Council about utilising peacekeeping forces to counter violent extremist organisation activity in (1) the North East, and (2) central-belt states, of Nigeria.

Our current assessment is that terrorist activity in Nigeria is limited to North East Nigeria. We continue to support Nigeria and the other states affected by the conflict in the Lake Chad Basin - Niger, Chad and Cameroon - to tackle the terrorist threat and support communities. We work closely with the UN in the region, including through our support to the UN Development Programme stabilisation facility in North East Nigeria and the work of the UN Office for West Africa and the Sahel.

On the Middle Belt, the UK Government has engaged closely with the Federal Government of Nigeria, state governments, international partners and the National Economic Council to help respond to the complex drivers of intercommunal violence and push for solutions.

The UK Government has no plans to make representations to the UN Security Council on the deployment of peacekeeping forces to Nigeria. We do not assess their deployment to be the most effective or appropriate way to tackle the terrorist threat in North East Nigeria or the intercommunal violence in the Middle Belt.

29th Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the same exceptions to sanctions applicable to international humanitarian organisations also apply to healthcare agencies that are part of the government of Syria.

We can confirm that healthcare agencies that are part of the Syrian regime are not designated under EU sanctions.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
29th Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon on 18 June (HL5354) which outlined potential delays to “the provision of goods to Syria's pharmaceutical industry”, what steps they are taking to mitigate (1) any damage to that country’s ability to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, and (2) any impact of sanctions on Syrian civilians.

The UK is working closely with the UN and our humanitarian partners to respond to the outbreak of COVID-19 in Syria and sustain life-saving services there. On 30 June, the International Development Secretary announced a UK pledge of at least £300 million for the Syria crisis in 2020. The funding will help stop the spread of the virus in Syria by supporting health workers with training, medical supplies and sanitation.

As previously stated in my Written Answer (HL5354), medical equipment and medicines required to fight the COVID-19 pandemic are not subject to direct restrictions on export, supply, financing or use in Syria.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
29th Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon on 18 June (HL5356), whether EU sanctions will continue to apply in the UK after the Transition Period.

After the Transition Period, the UK and the EU will pursue independent sanctions policies, driven by our respective foreign policies. Her Majesty's Government is transferring existing EU sanctions into UK law through regulations made under the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act 2018. We aim to transition the remaining EU sanctions regime into UK law by the end of the transition period but, as a safeguard, any sanctions regimes which we do not transition by then will be retained by effect of the EU (Withdrawal) Act 2018. These regulations will come into force on 1 January 2021, at which point existing EU sanctions will become autonomous UK sanctions.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
23rd Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the United Nations Security Council about protecting civilians displaced by terrorist activity in (1) northern, and (2) central, Nigeria.

The UK Government remains concerned about the deteriorating security situation in parts of Nigeria, including in the northern and central states. We have made clear to the Nigerian authorities, at the highest levels, the importance of protecting civilians and human rights for all Nigerians. Our current assessment is that terrorist activity is limited to North East Nigeria where Boko Haram and Islamic State West Africa conduct appalling attacks on all those who do not subscribe to their extremist views. The UK drafted a UN Security Council press statement, released on 16 June, condemning the recent terror attacks in Felo, Monguno and Nganzai, Borno State.

We acknowledge that intercommunal violence and criminality has devastating effects on communities in Northern and central states. We have engaged closely with the UN, Federal Government, state governments, the National Economic Council and other international partners to help address the drivers of intercommunal violence and push for solutions. We have encouraged efforts by the UN's Office for West Africa & the Sahel, UNOWAS, to increase engagement with regional governments on efforts to address the long-term causes and drivers of violence. We reiterated our commitment to the region in a UK statement on 5 June at the UN Security Council, setting out our intention to work with the UN and international partners to ensure peace, stability, sustainable development and justice for the people of West Africa and the Sahel, including Nigerians.

17th Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with Member States of the UN about (1) resolving (a) conflict, and (b) persecution, across the Sahel region, and (2) addressing jihadist ideology underpinning continuing attacks.

The UK is deeply concerned about the deteriorating security situation in the Sahel and recognizes violent extremist groups are benefiting from instability in the region. We are committed to working with the G5 Sahel countries and international partners to tackle the long-term drivers of instability, including factors that push local populations towards violent extremist groups. The UK also condemns attacks targeting particular religions or ethnic communities. Nobody should live in fear because of their identity or beliefs. The UK's commitment to the region was reiterated in a statement given on 5 June at the UN Security Council, where we strongly condemned violent extremist attacks, and called for all parties to respect international humanitarian law and ensure the protection of civilians. Later this year, the UK will be deploying to the UN peacekeeping mission MINUSMA. We are currently engaging with UN members on MINUSMA's mandate renewal to ensure the mission continues to support progress on the Mali Peace Process, helps contribute to stabilisation particularly in the Centre of Mali, and encourages effective and meaningful participation of women in the political process and peacekeeping efforts.

The Minister for Africa, James Duddridge, attended the first meeting of the Sahel Alliance General Assembly and the sixth Summit of the G5 Leaders (Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger) in Mauritania on 25 February and the virtual ministerial meeting of the Coalition for the Sahel on 12 June. At the meetings, he reaffirmed the UK's efforts to improve security and encourage development in the Sahel. As well as our upcoming MINUSMA deployment, the UK is supporting security efforts in the region through non-combat assistance to the French-led counter-terrorism mission Operation BARKHANE, in the form of three CH47 chinook helicopters. The UK is also committed to helping the G5 Sahel Joint Force reach full operational capability - bilateral funding has gone towards the provision of non-lethal military equipment and support for the human rights compliance framework. Our humanitarian and development programmes provide life-saving assistance to those most in need, help ensure the protection of civilians, and contribute to improving long-term governance and stability in the region.

17th Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what support they are providing for Nigerian citizens who have been displaced by jihadist violence in conflicts invoving herders and farmers.

We are concerned by intercommunal violence, frequently involving farming and herding communities, however we do not support the characterisation of the clashes as 'jihadist'. We are not aware of evidence of collusion between insurgent groups such as Boko Haram and Islamic State West Africa and perpetrators of intercommunal violence. We are keen to avoid conflating the two issues, which can risk exacerbating tensions.

The UK does not provide direct humanitarian funding to people displaced by intercommunal conflict affecting 'Middle Belt' states. DFID is designing a programme to address conflict over natural resources, which will help to address some of the root causes of the violence.

The UK also continues to support Nigeria in tackling terrorism in the North East. The UK has committed to providing up to £400 million of humanitarian support to affected communities between 2018-2022, including the provision of vital food assistance for 1.5 million conflict-affected people, preventing malnutrition and creating access to education for vulnerable children. When the security situation improves, we hope that all internally displaced people can return home. The return of people to their homes must be voluntary, based on an informed choice, and made in safety, with dignity, in accordance with international conventions.

17th Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to introduce mandatory training for (1) Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and (2) Department for International Development, staff, in Nigeria on (a) patterns of discrimination and conflict with religious characteristics, and (b) how religion and religious actors interact with the societal context.

Our staff are encouraged to develop an understanding of religion and its role within society, including in conflict situations and in countries like Nigeria where religion is important to most people's identity. Specific training on religion is available to all staff through the FCO's Diplomatic Academy. In addition, our Nigerian local staff provide first-hand insight into the role of religion and religious actors within Nigerian society, including conflicts affecting the country. We also use expertise from the FCO's Africa Research Group and conflict-prevention experts.

We are now working on an enhanced training offer related to religion as part of our commitment to implement the recommendations made in the Bishop of Truro's independent review. This work is being led by the Prime Minister's Special Envoy for Freedom of Religion or Belief, Rehman Chishti MP.

17th Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to identify NGOs who are running effective programmes to deter attacks on (1) farming communities, and (2) religious minorities, in Nigeria; and what plans they have to improve the ability of these NGOs to scale up their programmes.

We are deeply concerned by the intercommunal violence in Nigeria and the devastating impact which this has had on affected communities, including heavy loss of life. We continue to call for a solution that meets the needs of all the communities affected. DFID is designing a programme to address natural resource conflicts between farmers and herders, which may include support to non-governmental organisations.

Staff from the British High Commission in Abuja are actively engaged on the ground. The British High Commissioner to Nigeria along with staff visited Plateau State in December 2019 to discuss the situation with the Governor and Christian and Muslim faith leaders. They also met NGOs working on reconciliation to discuss the situation and efforts to address it.

17th Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government when they last made representations to the government of Nigeria on the abduction of Leah Sharibu; and what response they received.

The Government has repeatedly called for the release of all those abducted by Boko Haram and Islamic State West Africa (ISWA), including Leah Sharibu. The Prime Minister discussed UK support for fighting terrorism in Nigeria with President Buhari at the UK Africa Investment Summit in January. The Prime Minister's Special Envoy for Freedom of Religion or Belief met Leah's mother in February to express the UK's continued commitment to help Nigeria secure the release of all abductees. The Nigerian Government has provided assurances that they are doing all they can to secure the release of Leah and others kidnapped. President Buhari issued a statement in February, reiterating his Government's commitment to bring Leah home safely. We will continue to engage with the Government of Nigeria in support of urgent action to secure the return of Leah Sharibu and all abductees.

8th Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of sanctions on Syria on the pharmaceutical industry in that country and any subsequent impact on that country’s ability to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.

The UK and European partners regularly review sanctions, including in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, and have taken significant steps to mitigate against the wider impact of sanctions on Syrian civilians. The EU does not sanction medicine, medical equipment and medical assistance. As such, medical equipment, including oxygen, respirators (except powered respirators), personal protective equipment and ventilators as well as medicines and other medical items required to fight the COVID-19 pandemic are not subject to direct restrictions on export, supply, financing or use in Syria. Humanitarian exemptions apply in relation to other equipment required by the Syrian pharmaceutical industry. We assess that applying for a licence or authorisation may slightly delay the provision of goods to Syria's pharmaceutical industry, as may over-compliance by certain operators' unwillingness to engage in transactions related to Syria, for fear of accidentally violating the sanctions. But the sanctions do not prevent the delivery of items needed to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
8th Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon on 2 June (HL4567), whether EU or UK restrictions prohibit the delivery of supplies required to deal with COVID-19 through (1) the ports of Latakia and Tartous, and (2) Damascus Airport, in Syria.

EU sanctions do not prohibit medical supplies from being delivered into Syria regardless of the means of transport, including through Latakia, Tartous or Damascus. The EU Syria sanctions do not prohibit the supply, export, transfer or finance of food, medicines, medical equipment, disinfectants and other medical products required to deal with COVID-19 when used by international humanitarian organisations to provide humanitarian assistance. There are also humanitarian exemptions that apply in relation to certain dual-use goods. EU sanctions will continue to apply in the UK during the Transition Period.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
3rd Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of reports that over 500 people have been sentenced to between one month and one year in prison in Myanmar since late March for violating movement-control orders.

The United Kingdom is concerned by reports that public health policies used to tackle COVID-19, such as curfews and movement control orders, have been misused to violate people's civil liberties, including freedom of expression and religious belief in Myanmar. It is vital the public health policies are applied equally to all communities and not exploited to target particular groups. We have raised our concerns about civil liberties in Myanmar with the Government of Myanmar, including at a Ministerial level. We will continue to stress that public health and security concerns should not be used to undermine fundamental freedoms. We will also continue to support Myanmar's democratisation process and moves to end Myanmar's conflict in order to address the root causes of many of the violations and abuses seen in Myanmar.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
3rd Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the briefing by the Secretary General of the UN COVID-19 and Human Rights: We are all in this together, published on 23 April, what representations they have made to the government of Myanmar about ensuring that curfews and physical-distancing directives aimed to reduce the spread of COVID-19 are not exploited by security forces to exercise arbitrary and discriminatory detention of civilians.

The United Kingdom is concerned by reports that public health policies used to tackle COVID-19, such as curfews and movement control orders, have been misused to violate people's civil liberties, including freedom of expression and religious belief in Myanmar. It is vital the public health policies are applied equally to all communities and not exploited to target particular groups. We have raised our concerns about civil liberties in Myanmar with the Government of Myanmar, including at a Ministerial level. We will continue to stress that public health and security concerns should not be used to undermine fundamental freedoms. We will also continue to support Myanmar's democratisation process and moves to end Myanmar's conflict in order to address the root causes of many of the violations and abuses seen in Myanmar.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
3rd Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the government of Myanmar about the protection of religious minorities, including in relation to the arrest of five Christian pastors in Yangon and 12 Muslims in Mandalay, who were reportedly deemed as breaking COVID-19 curfews when praying at home.

The United Kingdom is concerned by reports that public health policies used to tackle COVID-19, such as curfews and movement control orders, have been misused to violate people's civil liberties, including freedom of expression and religious belief in Myanmar. It is vital the public health policies are applied equally to all communities and not exploited to target particular groups. We have raised our concerns about civil liberties in Myanmar with the Government of Myanmar, including at a Ministerial level. We will continue to stress that public health and security concerns should not be used to undermine fundamental freedoms. We will also continue to support Myanmar's democratisation process and moves to end Myanmar's conflict in order to address the root causes of many of the violations and abuses seen in Myanmar.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
3rd Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the government of Myanmar about protecting Chin villagers displaced by the conflict in Southern Chin State and Rakhine State; and what steps they have taken to ensure that Chin internally displaced persons receive urgent humanitarian assistance.

The UK Ambassador and the Department for International Development Country Director have actively engaged with the Myanmar Ministers and officials to raise the issues of conflict, access constraints, protection for aid workers, the internet ban and the potential impact of COVID on the most vulnerable communities across Myanmar, including those who are internally displaced in Southern Chin and Rakhine States. On 12 May, the UK Ambassador raised the need to ensure that the most vulnerable and hardest to reach in Rakhine were included in the Government's "no-one left behind" policy with the key Ministers in the Myanmar Government. On 14 May, the UK convened a meeting of the UN Security Council to discuss the situation in Rakhine and Chin. In our national statement we stressed the need for a de-escalation of fighting and greater humanitarian access. For FY 19/20 we made £10 million of UK aid available to help internally displaced persons in Chin and Rakhine States. This includes humanitarian relief, access to medical services and support to mitigate economic risks.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
3rd Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the announcement by the government of Myanmar of a four-month ceasefire by the military from 10 May until 31 August in order to contain and prevent the spread of COVID-19 not applying to Rakhine and Chin States.

The escalation of violence in Rakhine and Chin States in the first quarter of this year was alarming. The Myanmar Military's unilateral ceasefire is a step forward, but as the UK Government set out at the UN Security Council on 14 May, the ceasefire must be extended to Rakhine and Chin to de-escalate the violence and reduce tensions between armed actors and impacts on civilians. The situation in Paletwa township in Chin State remains grave, and reports of communities being harassed and intimidated by armed actors are concerning. The Minister of State for Asia recently spoke to the Myanmar Ambassador to the UK and called on the Government of Myanmar to work to de-escalate fighting in Rakhine and Chin in order to prioritise the Covid-19 response.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
2nd Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the government of Nigeria about the findings of the report by Amnesty International ‘We dried our tears’: Addressing the toll on children of Northeast Nigeria’s conflict, published on 27 May, that the Nigerian armed forces have committed war crimes and crimes against humanity during their operations.

We are concerned by the reports of abuse, and of children being held in military detention facilities, detailed within Amnesty International's Report, 'We Dried Our Tears'. Children are victims of the conflict in North East Nigeria, not perpetrators.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, Minister of State with responsibility for Human Rights, discussed the report with Amnesty International UK's Director on the day of its launch. Our High Commission will raise the details of this report with the Government of Nigeria imminently. The UK will continue to call on the Nigerian security forces to respect human rights, including the rights of children and abide by international humanitarian and Human Rights Law. All allegations of human rights violations or excessive use of force should be investigated and those responsible for any violation must be held to account. It is essential that victims can have trust in, and are protected from, their security forces.

2nd Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the government of Nigeria to encourage the (1) investigation, and (2) prosecution, of (a) war crimes, (b) crimes against humanity, and (c) other human rights abuses, committed by (i) Boko Haram, (ii) Islamic State West Africa Province, and (iii) Fulani militia.

We are appalled by and condemn violence caused by Boko Haram and Islamic State West Africa, that has caused immense suffering to communities in North East Nigeria. The UK is supporting the fight against Boko Haram and Islamic State West Africa in the region, through a substantial package of security, humanitarian and stabilisation assistance. We regularly make clear to the Nigerian authorities at the highest levels the importance of protecting civilians and human rights for all, as well as ensuring those responsible for criminal acts and human rights abuses are held to account. It is important that all civilians affected by crime or conflict see that justice has been done. We call for suspects to have access to justice and that cases are carried out in accordance with Nigerian law and international human rights standards.

Intercommunal violence across multiple states in Nigeria has a devastating impact on local communities. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Wilton Park hosted a conference on 'Fostering Social Cohesion in Nigeria' in February, to consider solutions to intercommunal violence in Nigeria. Amongst other things, participants at that conference highlighted the importance of language and cautioned against the use of inflammatory terminology, including 'militia', to describe diverse ethnic groups. We are working closely with the federal government, state governments, international partners and the National Economic Council in Nigeria, to help address the root causes of intercommunal violence, and continue to push for solutions that meet the needs of all communities affected.

18th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the answer by Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon on 13 May (HL Deb, col 681), what assessment they have made of the compatibility of the continuing prohibition on sales of dual use goods such as disinfectants and nitrous oxide for anaesthetics to the Syrian Ministry of Health with the exemption of medical supplies used for humanitarian purposes from sanctions on that country.

EU Syria sanctions do not prohibit the sale, supply, transfer, export or finance of disinfectants, nitrous oxide and other goods required to combat Covid-19. Certain goods and their components can be used for internal repression, including through chemical attacks, and are therefore subject to prohibitions but even in those cases, humanitarian exemptions enable them to be sold or exported where the end user has demonstrated that the goods will be used to deliver humanitarian relief and will not be transferred to a designated person or entity. The Syrian Ministry of Health is not designated in the EU Syria sanctions. Applications are assessed on a case-by-case basis in accordance with UK legislation and the Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria. On 12 May, the European Commission issued guidance on the humanitarian exemptions to the Syria sanctions regulations to support humanitarian organisations.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
18th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of reports that the government of Azerbaijan has been conducting large-scale military exercises along the borders with Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh; and what representations, if any, they intend to make to that government about such exercises.

The Government is aware of reports of military exercises being conducted in Azerbaijan by the country's military. As with the exercises of other countries in the region, we will continue to monitor this closely.

We are also aware of ongoing reports of ceasefire violations along the border between Armenia and Azerbaijan. At this time of global crisis, the United Kingdom fully supports the UN Secretary General's call for an immediate global ceasefire in armed conflicts around the world. The United Kingdom would like to see a peaceful, negotiated settlement to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and fully supports the efforts of the Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group in achieving that. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office regularly raises the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict with the authorities in Armenia and Azerbaijan, and will continue to do so.

18th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of reports that Azerbaijani troops used large-calibre weapons to fire at Berkaber village in Armenia’s Tavush Province on 13 May.

The Government is aware of reports of military exercises being conducted in Azerbaijan by the country's military. As with the exercises of other countries in the region, we will continue to monitor this closely.

We are also aware of ongoing reports of ceasefire violations along the border between Armenia and Azerbaijan. At this time of global crisis, the United Kingdom fully supports the UN Secretary General's call for an immediate global ceasefire in armed conflicts around the world. The United Kingdom would like to see a peaceful, negotiated settlement to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and fully supports the efforts of the Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group in achieving that. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office regularly raises the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict with the authorities in Armenia and Azerbaijan, and will continue to do so.

14th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon on 11 February (HL833), what further steps they have taken to secure the release of Leah Sharibu.

We condemn the appalling abduction and continued captivity of Leah Sharibu and other Christian and Muslim girls by Boko Haram and Islamic State West Africa (ISWA). The Prime Minister discussed UK support for fighting terrorism in Nigeria with President Buhari at the UK Africa Investment Summit in January. The Prime Minister's Special Envoy for Freedom of Religion or Belief met Leah's mother in February to express the UK's continued commitment to supporting the Government of Nigeria to secure the release of Leah and all abductees.

12th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the government of Burkina Faso about protecting civilians displaced by terrorist activity, especially in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The UK is deeply concerned by the ongoing reports of terrorist violence in Burkina Faso and the tragic consequences for the population. The number of displaced people due to instability continues to rise. As of March 2020, just under 800 000 people were recorded as displaced in Burkina Faso. The UK condemns the violence and is committed to working with all partners, including the G5 Sahel countries, to support those most in need and tackle the long-term drivers of instability in the region. In February, the Minister for Africa attended the first meeting of the Sahel Alliance General Assembly and G5 Leaders' Summit, where he reaffirmed the UK's commitment to improved security and increased development in the Sahel. We are also deeply concerned by reports of abuses and violations of human rights in Burkina Faso, including by armed groups and the Burkinabe security forces. We welcome the Government of Burkina Faso's commitment to investigate recent abuses and hold those responsible to account, including following the attack on Malian refugees on 2 May and the deaths of 12 detainees in mid-May.

The UK is supporting Burkina Faso by providing life-saving humanitarian assistance to those affected by the crisis. Over £23 million of UK humanitarian aid will go to Burkina Faso between 2019 and 2021, including to help tackle food insecurity and treat acute malnutrition.

We are also funding a number of programmes that help provide access to education in emergencies and support women's sexual and reproductive health. The UK is supporting the security response through non-combat assistance to the French-led counter-terrorism mission Operation BARKHANE, in the form of three CH47 chinook helicopters. The UK is also committed to helping the G5 Sahel Joint Force reach full operational capability - bilateral funding has gone towards the provision of non-lethal military equipment and support for the human rights compliance framework. In response to COVID-19, the UK has committed up to £744 million of UK aid to combat the virus and to reinforce the global effort to find a vaccine. In the Sahel, the UK is seeking to make sure existing programmes adapt to new needs and is working with partners like the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and the African Development Bank to ensure that countries in the region, including Burkina Faso, get the support they need to respond to COVID-19 and manage its impact.

12th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they have taken to protect the towns and villages in Burkina Faso that are now outside of state control because of terrorist activity.

The UK is deeply concerned by the ongoing reports of terrorist violence in Burkina Faso and the tragic consequences for the population. The number of displaced people due to instability continues to rise. As of March 2020, just under 800 000 people were recorded as displaced in Burkina Faso. The UK condemns the violence and is committed to working with all partners, including the G5 Sahel countries, to support those most in need and tackle the long-term drivers of instability in the region. In March, the Minister for Africa attended the first meeting of the Sahel Alliance General Assembly and G5 Leaders' Summit, where he reaffirmed the UK's commitment to improved security and increased development in the Sahel. We are also deeply concerned by reports of abuses and violations of human rights in Burkina Faso, including by armed groups and the Burkinabe security forces. We welcome the Government of Burkina Faso's commitment to investigate recent abuses and hold those responsible to account, including following the attack on Malian refugees on 2 May and the deaths of 12 detainees in mid-May.

The UK is supporting Burkina Faso by providing life-saving humanitarian assistance to those affected by the crisis. Over £23 million of UK humanitarian aid will go to Burkina Faso between 2019 and 2021, including to help tackle food insecurity and treat acute malnutrition.

We are also funding a number of programmes that help provide access to education in emergencies and support women's sexual and reproductive health. The UK is supporting the security response through non-combat assistance to the French-led counter-terrorism mission Operation BARKHANE, in the form of three CH47 chinook helicopters. The UK is also committed to helping the G5 Sahel Joint Force reach full operational capability - bilateral funding has gone towards the provision of non-lethal military equipment and support for the human rights compliance framework. In response to COVID-19, the UK has committed up to £744 million of UK aid to combat the virus and to reinforce the global effort to find a vaccine. In the Sahel, the UK is seeking to make sure existing programmes adapt to new needs and is working with partners like the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and the African Development Bank to ensure that countries in the region, including Burkina Faso, get the support they need to respond to COVID-19 and manage its impact.

12th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the government of Burkina Faso about the reported continuation of terrorist violence in the Centre-Nord region and surrounding areas, including (1) holding perpetrators to account, and (2) providing humanitarian aid for victims.

The UK is deeply concerned by the ongoing reports of terrorist violence in Burkina Faso and the tragic consequences for the population. The number of displaced people due to instability continues to rise. As of March 2020, just under 800 000 people were recorded as displaced in Burkina Faso. The UK condemns the violence and is committed to working with all partners, including the G5 Sahel countries, to support those most in need and tackle the long-term drivers of instability in the region. In March, the Minister for Africa attended the first meeting of the Sahel Alliance General Assembly and G5 Leaders' Summit, where he reaffirmed the UK's commitment to improved security and increased development in the Sahel. We are also deeply concerned by reports of abuses and violations of human rights in Burkina Faso, including by armed groups and the Burkinabe security forces. We welcome the Government of Burkina Faso's commitment to investigate recent abuses and hold those responsible to account, including following the attack on Malian refugees on 2 May and the deaths of 12 detainees in mid-May.

The UK is supporting Burkina Faso by providing life-saving humanitarian assistance to those affected by the crisis. Over £23 million of UK humanitarian aid will go to Burkina Faso between 2019 and 2021, including to help tackle food insecurity and treat acute malnutrition.

We are also funding a number of programmes that help provide access to education in emergencies and support women's sexual and reproductive health. The UK is supporting the security response through non-combat assistance to the French-led counter-terrorism mission Operation BARKHANE, in the form of three CH47 chinook helicopters. The UK is also committed to helping the G5 Sahel Joint Force reach full operational capability - bilateral funding has gone towards the provision of non-lethal military equipment and support for the human rights compliance framework. In response to COVID-19, the UK has committed up to £744 million of UK aid to combat the virus and to reinforce the global effort to find a vaccine. In the Sahel, the UK is seeking to make sure existing programmes adapt to new needs and is working with partners like the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and the African Development Bank to ensure that countries in the region, including Burkina Faso, get the support they need to respond to COVID-19 and manage its impact.

6th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the government of Pakistan to end discrimination and persecution of Ahmadis.

We engage at a senior level with the Pakistani Government on our concerns about the mistreatment of religious and ethnic groups, including Pakistanis from the Ahmadiyya Muslim community. We are concerned by language that may incite violence against any religious or ethnic groups. As the Minister of State for South Asia with responsibility for human rights, I raised the UK's concerns about freedom of religion or belief and the protection of the Ahmadiyya community with Pakistan's Human Rights Minister, Dr Shireen Mazari, on 27 February and with the Pakistan High Commissioner to the UK, Nafees Zakaria, on 12 May. We will continue to urge the Government of Pakistan to guarantee the fundamental rights of all its citizens, as laid down in the constitution of Pakistan and in accordance with international standards.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
6th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the government of Pakistan about the case for removing hate speech from social media platforms in Pakistan, including hate speech towards Ahmadis.

We engage at a senior level with the Pakistani Government on our concerns about the mistreatment of religious and ethnic groups, including Pakistanis from the Ahmadiyya Muslim community. We are concerned by language that may incite violence against any religious or ethnic groups. As the Minister of State for South Asia with responsibility for human rights, I raised the UK's concerns about freedom of religion or belief and the protection of the Ahmadiyya community with Pakistan's Human Rights Minister, Dr Shireen Mazari, on 27 February and with the Pakistan High Commissioner to the UK, Nafees Zakaria, on 12 May. We will continue to urge the Government of Pakistan to guarantee the fundamental rights of all its citizens, as laid down in the constitution of Pakistan and in accordance with international standards.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
6th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government (1) what assessment they have made of the statement by the government of Pakistan's Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs on 29 April that “the only punishment for blasphemers is beheading”, and (2) what assessment they have made of the Coalition for Religious Equality and Inclusive Development’s statement that such comments have contributed to an anti-Ahmadi campaign in Pakistan.

We engage at a senior level with the Pakistani Government on our concerns about the mistreatment of religious and ethnic groups, including Pakistanis from the Ahmadiyya Muslim community. We are concerned by language that may incite violence against any religious or ethnic groups. As the Minister of State for South Asia with responsibility for human rights, I raised the UK's concerns about freedom of religion or belief and the protection of the Ahmadiyya community with Pakistan's Human Rights Minister, Dr Shireen Mazari, on 27 February and with the Pakistan High Commissioner to the UK, Nafees Zakaria, on 12 May. We will continue to urge the Government of Pakistan to guarantee the fundamental rights of all its citizens, as laid down in the constitution of Pakistan and in accordance with international standards.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
9th Mar 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to reports that security forces killed protesters and bystanders in Iran between 15 and 18 November 2019, what representations they have made to the UN Human Rights Council to dispatch a fact-finding mission to that country.

We are aware of reports of violence used against protesters nationwide in Iran between 15-18 November 2019. We unreservedly support the right to peaceful protest and call on Iran to uphold its commitments under international law to protect freedom of assembly and speech. The UK regularly raises human rights with the Iranian authorities at all levels and we continue to take action with the international community to press Iran to improve its poor record on all human rights issues, including recently raising at the UN Human Rights Council in March this year. We agree with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights' call for a transparent investigation to occur, and we believe it must be credible. We continue to urge Iran to allow the independent UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Iran access to the country, so that he can carry out his mandate, which includes monitoring and investigating any human rights violations.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
9th Mar 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the government of Iran about the killing of protesters and bystanders by security forces between 15 and 18 November 2019.

We are aware of reports of violence used against protesters nationwide in Iran between 15-18 November 2019. We unreservedly support the right to peaceful protest and call on Iran to uphold its commitments under international law to protect freedom of assembly and speech. The UK regularly raises human rights with the Iranian authorities at all levels and has made clear our concerns about the protests of 15-18 November. We continue to take action with the international community to press Iran to improve its poor record on all human rights issues, including most recently at the UN Human Rights Council in March this year.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
9th Mar 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the government of Iran about recent reports of (1) protests being violently repressed, and (2) arbitrary detention and treatment of those arrested during protests.

We are aware of reports of violence used against protesters in Iran. We unreservedly support the right to peaceful protest and call on Iran to uphold its commitments under international law to protect freedom of assembly and speech, and treat all detainees in line with international standards. The UK regularly raises human rights with the Iranian authorities at all levels and we continue to take action with the international community to press Iran to improve its poor record on all human rights issues, including most recently at the UN Human Rights Council in March this year.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
2nd Mar 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the statement by the government of Nigeria's Minister of Information and Culture on 27 February that members of Boko Haram and Islamic State West African Province are "targeting Christians and Christian villages" and "now have a deliberate policy of attacking Christians".

We are appalled by, and have condemned publicly, recent attacks by Boko Haram and Islamic State West Africa (ISWA), including those on Christian communities. The groups' barbaric actions have a devastating effect on communities of all faiths. Boko Haram and ISWA claim to represent Islam, but their interpretation of Islam could not be further from the spirit of the religion.

We echo the views of the Minister of Information and Culture that the targeting of Christians by the terrorist groups is intended to promote religious division and further conflict. The UK is fully committed to supporting Nigeria to combat extremism and to protect the right to religious freedom. We are providing a comprehensive package of support, including £300 million of humanitarian aid to communities in North East Nigeria over five years (2018-2022).

2nd Mar 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of The Bishop of Truro's Independent Review for the Foreign Secretary of Foreign and Commonwealth Office Support for Persecuted Christians, published on 16 July 2019, which found that "religion plays a key part" in targeted violence by Fulani militia against Christian communities in Nigeria; whether they intend to publish a response to that report; and if so, when.

The UK Government has accepted the recommendations of the Bishop of Truro's report and is working on implementing them. On Nigeria, the report considered intercommunal violence in the Middle Belt and terrorism in the North East. Given religion forms a fundamental part of the identity of most Nigerians, our assessment is that religion inevitably plays a part in incidences of violence affecting all faith communities, including some which involve Fulani herdsmen. As the report highlights, other factors also play a role. As part of HMG's response to issues flagged by the report, the FCO and Wilton Park co-hosted a conference on 'Fostering Social Cohesion in Nigeria' in February, exploring the complex causes of conflict and solutions to help ease tensions and reduce violence. Discussion also highlighted the importance of countering inaccurate narratives misrepresenting disparate incidents across multiple states as a homogenous religious conflict, and of inflammatory terminology as 'militia' to describe diverse ethnic groups. A full report from the event will issue this month.

27th Feb 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the government of Burkina Faso following the escalation of terrorist violence in that country since 2015.

The UK is deeply concerned by the scale of terrorist violence in Burkina Faso. We are committed to working with the G5 Sahel countries, including the Burkinabe government, to help address instability in the region. The UK is currently supporting Burkina Faso by providing emergency life-saving assistance to those affected by the conflict crisis. The UK is also providing non-combat assistance to the French-led counter terror mission Operation BARKHANE in the form of three CH47 chinook helicopters; this includes support to operations in Burkina Faso.

27th Feb 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of reports that over 191 Christians have been killed in Burkina Faso since April 2019.

The UK condemns recent attacks against Christians including, last month, the attack on a church in Burkina Faso that killed 24 people. Nobody should live in fear because of their identity or beliefs. Religion-based and intercommunal violence is part of a broader trend of security deterioration in Burkina Faso that has tragically taken the lives of many civilians. We are committed to working with all partners, including G5 Sahel countries, to protect freedom of religion or belief for all.

The UK is deeply concerned by the scale of terrorist violence in Burkina Faso. We are committed to working with the G5 Sahel countries, including the Burkinabe government, to help address instability in the region. Last week, James Duddridge (Minister for Africa) attended the first meeting of the Sahel Alliance General Assembly and G5 Leaders' Summit, where he reaffirmed the UK's commitment to improved security and increased development in the Sahel. The UK is currently supporting Burkina Faso by providing emergency life-saving assistance to those affected by the conflict crisis. The UK is also providing non-combat assistance to the French-led counter terror mission Operation BARKHANE in the form of three CH47 chinook helicopters; this includes support to operations in Burkina Faso.

As the UK increases its work to tackle poverty and instability in the Sahel, we will continue being a vocal champion for the protection of fundamental rights and freedoms.

24th Feb 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the statement by Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon on 29 January (HL Deb, col 1441), what are the findings of their report into the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei’s failure to protect vulnerable people in the region.

We welcome the commitment of the Governments of Sudan and South Sudan to de-escalate tensions and jointly investigate the circumstances surrounding the recent incidents of violence in Abyei. We urge for these investigation to be conducted swiftly and transparently. We also continue to engage with the United Nations to establish further clarity concerning UN Interim Security Force in Abyei patrols and community engagement, especially during periods of heightened local tensions.

24th Feb 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the governments of Sudan and South Sudan about the case for an urgent political settlement for the disputed region of Abyei.

The Minister of State for the UN and Human Rights raised the issue of intercommunal tensions in the Abyei region with the Sudanese Ambassador to London on 28 January. The UN Security Council made clear in a press statement on 29 January that the Governments of Sudan and South Sudan must provide their full support to the UN Interim Security Force in Abyei (UNISFA). In addition the Security Council called on the AU and UN Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa to intensify their mediation efforts with the Governments of Sudan and South Sudan to achieve a political solution for the status of Abyei. The British Embassy in Khartoum continues to raise this issue with all parties, most recently with senior officials in the Sudanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs on 26 February, to urge the resolution of outstanding issues relating to the effectiveness of UNISFA's mandate in Abyei. Ultimately a political solution to the conflicts in Sudan and South Sudan must include a resolution to the status of Abyei; we therefore welcome progress in Sudan peace talks in talks in Juba and the decision to form a Transitional Government of National Unity in South Sudan on 22 February. Along with our Troika partners (US and Norway) our engagement in both Sudan and South Sudan continues to focus on achieving lasting peace.

24th Feb 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they intend to take to ensure an official referendum is held to allow the people of the disputed region of Abyei to determine whether they want to be part of Sudan or South Sudan.

A political solution to the conflicts in Sudan and South Sudan must include a resolution to the status of Abyei, and this should include the views of the communities involved. The UK will continue to engage with all parties to secure a lasting political solution in Abyei, including with the governments of Sudan and South Sudan and in multilateral fora such as the United Nations and African Union.

7th Jan 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the Mayday Rescue Foundation, in its role as a UK-implementing partner, was involved in choosing witnesses for interview by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons Douma Fact-Finding Mission on behalf of the UK; and whether they are aware of any investigation for possible financial irregularities in respect of that foundation.

I refer the noble Lady to my answer of 7 January 2020 to questions HL24 and 26.

It is entirely a matter for the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons how it conducts its investigations and produces its reports. The noble Lady also asked about Mayday Rescue, which is an implementing partner for the Government's Conflict, Stability and Security Fund. We work closely with all our implementing partners, including Mayday Rescue, to ensure they meet the tests for spending public money; this includes by ensuring that audits are commissioned on at least an annual basis. All Government aid spending is subject to robust scrutiny to ensure it represents value for money for British taxpayers.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
7th Jan 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the Chief of Cabinet to the Director General of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons played any role in redrafting the experts' report of their findings with regard to the alleged use of chemical weapons in Douma, Syria.

​I refer the noble Lady to my answer of 7 January 2020 to questions HL24 and 26.

It is entirely a matter for the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons how it conducts its investigations and produces its reports.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
19th Dec 2019
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of reports that chlorine levels found in Douma, Syria, were equivalent to those found in common household cleaning products.

​The UK assesses that the Syrian regime was responsible for a chlorine attack in Douma in April 2018. The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) Fact Finding Mission (FFM) produced a thorough and clearly evidenced report, which concluded that an attack using chlorine took place. The use of chlorine as a chemical weapon is a breach of the Chemical Weapons Convention. We have confidence in the conclusion and the OPCW's methodology. The OPCW Director-General confirmed that that the OPCW Technical Secretariat took all views and evidence into account in reaching its conclusions on this incident.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
19th Dec 2019
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of reports that evidence gathered by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons Fact Finding Mission was suppressed or distorted.

​The UK has full confidence in the expertise of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapon's (OPCW) Fact Finding Mission (FFM) and its work investigating allegations of chemical weapons use in Syria. The Director-General confirmed that that the OPCW Technical Secretariat took all views and evidence into account in reaching its conclusions in the FFM's most recent report on the incident in Douma, 7 April 2018. The UK stands by its own assessment that the Syrian regime was responsible for a chlorine attack in Douma on that date.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
19th Dec 2019
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the government of Nigeria about reports of multiple attacks, by Fulani militia in Northern and Central Belt states, of torture, murder and the destruction of homes, churches and villages.

We remain concerned by intercommunal violence in Nigeria and the devastating impact it has had on affected communities including heavy loss of life. We continue to push for a solution that meets the needs of all communities affected. We regularly raise our concerns with the Government of Nigeria at the highest levels. The Secretary of State for International Development raised the issue with the Nigerian Vice President and the Governor of Kaduna during his visit in July. He highlighted how factors including ethnicity, religion and climate change are driving intercommunal violence across Nigeria. The UK, including the British High Commission in Abuja, will continue to engage closely with the federal government, state government, international partners and the National Economic Council to help address the underlying issues that cause conflict.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
19th Dec 2019
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon on 8 October (HL17990), what further steps they have taken to minimise the impact on civilians of sanctions imposed on Syria.

We remain at the forefront of the humanitarian response to the crisis in Syria, and have committed £2.81 billion to support Syrian civilians since 2012.

Sanctions remain a key lever in pressing the regime to engage seriously with the political process and to bring about a peaceful end to the Syrian conflict.

We actively seek to minimise the impact of sanctions on ordinary Syrians. The EU regularly considers the wider impact of Syria sanctions, most recently ahead of an EU annual review of the Syria sanctions regime which concluded in June. The EU Syria sanctions regime also has a number of exemptions in place in order to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
23rd May 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the article by Bloomberg UK 'U.S. to Proceed with Case to Seize Nigerian Governor's Funds', published on 8 March, what steps they will take to ensure that the Abacha loot held in the UK will not end up in the hands of criminals.

The UK is a signatory to the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC). In line with the UK’s framework for transparent and accountable asset return, the UK ensures consistency, transparency and accountability in its process for returning funds to other countries.

The UK will always sign a case-specific agreement with the relevant country detailing the steps that the recipient Government will take to ensure the funds are put to their intended use.

All agreements which oversee the return of funds abroad are published on gov.uk

The NCA’s recent recovery of $23,439,724.98 from the associates and family of former Nigerian Head of State, General Sani Abacha, was carried out following a request from the US Department of Justice (USDOJ). As such, the Home Office will transfer the funds in this case to the USDOJ.

Baroness Williams of Trafford
Minister of State (Home Office)
23rd May 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will refrain from releasing any funds from the Abacha loot until concerns relating to corruption within the government of Nigeria are allayed; and whether they will commit to publishing a copy of any agreements reached on the transfer of the funds relating to the Abacha loot.

The UK is a signatory to the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC). In line with the UK’s framework for transparent and accountable asset return, the UK ensures consistency, transparency and accountability in its process for returning funds to other countries.

The UK will always sign a case-specific agreement with the relevant country detailing the steps that the recipient Government will take to ensure the funds are put to their intended use.

All agreements which oversee the return of funds abroad are published on gov.uk

The NCA’s recent recovery of $23,439,724.98 from the associates and family of former Nigerian Head of State, General Sani Abacha, was carried out following a request from the US Department of Justice (USDOJ). As such, the Home Office will transfer the funds in this case to the USDOJ.

Baroness Williams of Trafford
Minister of State (Home Office)
9th Feb 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many victims of Daesh have been granted asylum in the UK since 2014; and how many of these belonged to religious minorities in the countries they left.

The Home Office cannot identify how many victims of Daesh have been granted asylum in the UK since 2014 nor can we identify how many of these victims belonged to a religious minority. This data could only be obtained at disproportionate cost because it would require a manual search through individual records.

However, the Home Office publishes figures on the number of people who have been granted asylum in the UK. This data can be found attached.

Baroness Williams of Trafford
Minister of State (Home Office)
3rd Feb 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the National Crime Agency's seizure of millions of pounds derived from the Azerbaijan laundromat on 31 January, what steps they intend to take, if any, against complicit shell companies registered in the UK.

Recognising the operational independence of law enforcement, the Home Office cannot comment on any ongoing cases.

The Government is committed to reforming the role of Companies House and improving transparency over UK companies and property, to strengthen our business environment and combat economic crime.

We announced our plans to reform Companies House in September 2020 and in 2021, we consulted on more detailed aspects of the reforms, and we will respond soon. The Government’s plans will deliver significant improvements to the integrity of the UK’s register of companies and assist greatly in the fight against economic crime. These reforms will include the identity verification of directors, People with Significant Control and those filing on behalf of a company, and new powers for the registrar to query and check information.

We are also continuing to finalise the draft Registration of Overseas Entities legislation, which underwent pre-legislative scrutiny in 2019, to align with the broader reform of Companies House and our plans to verify the data it holds. We are amending this draft legislation in line with the committee’s recommendations.

We will introduce legislation to implement the Register of Overseas Entities and the broader reforms of Companies House when parliamentary time allows.

Baroness Williams of Trafford
Minister of State (Home Office)
23rd Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the report by the Lift the Ban coalition Lift the Ban: Why giving people seeking asylum the right to work is common sense, published on 30 July, what assessment they have made of the potential economic benefit of giving asylum seekers the right to work in the UK.

Asylum seekers can work in the UK if their claim has been outstanding for 12 months, through no fault of their own. Those allowed to work are restricted to jobs on the Shortage Occupation List, which is published by the Home Office and based on expert advice from the Migration Advisory Committee.

It is important to distinguish between those who need protection and those seeking to work here, who can apply for a work visa under the Immigration Rules. Our wider policy could be undermined if migrants bypassed work visa Rules by lodging unfounded asylum claims here.

The Home Office is currently reviewing policy on right to work.

As part of the plans to speed up Asylum decision making, over the last 18 months, UK Visas and Immigration have increased the number of Asylum decision makers and support staff as part of a rolling recruitment campaign and mobilised a transformation programme that seeks to simplify, streamline and digitise processes.

Baroness Williams of Trafford
Minister of State (Home Office)
14th Jul 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the report by Justice and Care UK and the Centre for Social Justice It still happens here: Fighting UK slavery in the 2020s, published on 13 July; and what plans they have to implement its recommendations.

The Home Secretary has noted that Justice and Care UK and the Centre for Social Justice’s report contains important findings on modern slavery. The Home Office will be looking at the report closely.

The Modern Slavery Act 2015 was ground-breaking, but the Government is committed to strengthening its approach. In July 2018, the Government commissioned an Independent Review of the Modern Slavery Act 2015. The Government accepted the majority of the Review’s recommendations (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/government-response-to-the-independent-review-of-the-modern-slavery-act).

The Home Office has embarked on an ambitious NRM Transformation Programme as we continue our world leading efforts to ensure genuine victims have their cases settled promptly, receive support tailored to their needs, and are provided with the support they need to move on with their lives.

Baroness Williams of Trafford
Minister of State (Home Office)
6th Jul 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the statement by the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs on 1 July (HC Deb, col 329) that holders of a British National (Overseas) passport resident in Hong Kong are to be offered the chance to settle in the UK and apply for citizenship, whether that provision extends to Hong Kong Military Service Corps veterans and their families.

Following the imposition by the Chinese Government of a national security law on Hong Kong that restricts the rights and freedoms of the people of Hong Kong in breach of the Sino-British Joint Declaration, the UK Government has confirmed new immigration arrangements will be put in place for British Nationals (Overseas).

As announced by the Foreign Secretary on 1 July, a new bespoke immigration route will allow BN(O)s to apply to come to the UK without the current 6 month limit, granting them 5 years limited leave to remain, with the ability to live and work in the UK, after which they may apply for settled status and a year later citizenship. This is a special bespoke set of arrangements, developed for the unique circumstances we face and in light of our historic commitment to BN(O)s in Hong Kong.

Further details of the new immigration route will be announced in due course.

Baroness Williams of Trafford
Minister of State (Home Office)
2nd Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the answer by Baroness Williams of Trafford on 14 May 2019 (HL Deb, col 90GC), what steps they have taken to ensure better data on the scale of child sexual abuse; and what progress they have made in establishing a national prevalence survey on child sexual abuse.

The Home Office collects and publishes data on crimes recorded by the police, including crimes related to child sexual abuse. These are published quarterly in the Office for National Statistics bulletin “Crime in England and Wales”. The latest data are available here: https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/crimeandjustice/bulletins/crimeinenglandandwales/yearendingdecember2019

The ONS have recently published additional statistics and commentary on child sex abuse. There are available here https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/crimeandjustice/articles/childsexualabuseinenglandandwales/yearendingmarch2019. The most recent Crime Survey for England and Wales estimates that in the year ending March 2019, approximately 3.1 million adults aged 18 to 74 years experienced child sexual abuse before the age of 16 years. This is equivalent to 7.5% of the population aged 18 to 74 years.

The ONS is currently carrying out a feasibility study to determine whether a new survey could effectively measure the current scale and nature of child abuse and neglect, including child sexual abuse. Findings from the first stage of the research are due to be published later in 2020.

Baroness Williams of Trafford
Minister of State (Home Office)
14th Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many members of the British Armed Forces were in Syria on the latest date for which figures are available; and what is the mission of such deployment.

UK Armed Forces continue to play a leading role in the Global Coalition to defeat Daesh. The UK has around 1100 military personnel committed to counter-Daesh operations across the Middle East.

Baroness Goldie
Minister of State (Ministry of Defence)
23rd Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the statement by the government of Nigeria that “in concert with our American and British allies, Nigeria’s military have pushed back the terrorists” on 19 June, what is the mandate of the British Armed Forces operating in north-east Nigeria.

British Armed Forces activity in North East Nigeria is covered under an Memorandum of Understanding between the UK and Nigeria that was signed in 2019, and is called Operation TURUS. The mission statement for TURUS is: Influence and train the operational capability and capacity of the Armed Forces of Nigeria and Multi-National Joint Task Force, in order to counter Violent Extremist Organisation activity in the North East of Nigeria and the Lake Chad Basin area and contribute to Her Majesty's Government's policy goals and objectives.

Baroness Goldie
Minister of State (Ministry of Defence)
11th Mar 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the objective of British forces being present in Southern Syria.

We remain committed to the fight against Daesh in Syria, and its objective of securing Daesh's lasting defeat. UK Armed Forces are playing a leading role in the Global Coalition to defeat Daesh. The UK has had around 1,100 military personnel committed to counter-Daesh operations across the Middle East.

Baroness Goldie
Minister of State (Ministry of Defence)
11th Mar 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the resolution of the House of Commons on 2 December 2015 (HC Deb, col 499) approving military action against Daesh in Syria, what assessment they have made of the presence of British ground troops and their incurring casualties in Syria.

We remain committed to the fight against Daesh in Syria, and its objective of securing Daesh's lasting defeat. UK presence in the region is essential to ensuring that Daesh is not able to regroup. This includes contributions to Coalition leadership, force protection, and enablement. It would be almost impossible for any counter-Daesh mission to continue without these contributions.

Baroness Goldie
Minister of State (Ministry of Defence)
11th Mar 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether British forces have participated with, or assisted, armed groups in Syria since December 2015 in attacks against Syrian government forces or allied militias.

The United Kingdom is a member of the Global Coalition, formed in September 2014. Membership comprises 76 member states; including Iraq, Arab nations, European partners and the US, and five international institutions. The Coalition supports the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces and the Iraqi Security Forces in the ongoing military campaign in Iraq and Syria.

Baroness Goldie
Minister of State (Ministry of Defence)
9th Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what action they are taking to support religious and minority belief communities which have been negatively affected by COVID-19.

In May we launched a Places of Worship Taskforce, chaired by the Secretary of State and the Faith Minister. The Taskforce covered a wide variety of issues relating to Covid-19 and plans to safely reopen places of worship. Since 4 July, places of worship have been able to reopen for communal worship with Covid-Secure measures.

Ministers and officials have continued to engage widely with faith and belief leaders on a range of issues, including preparations for religious festivals. In addition, we appointed FaithAction to support smaller faith groups and denominations through the pandemic.

Faith and belief organisations have been able to access a range of government-backed financial support measures. Including the Coronavirus Community Support Fund which helped organisations providing essential services to vulnerable people affected by the current crisis.

Lord Greenhalgh
Minister of State (Home Office)
22nd Apr 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the Nuffield Foundation report, When is a wedding not a marriage? Exploring non-legally binding ceremonies, published on 8 March; and, in particular, of the conclusion that wedding law reform is achievable and long overdue.

The Government notes the conclusion of the Nuffield Foundation’s report. The Government remains committed to assessing the case for more comprehensive and enduring reform to marriage law once the Law Commission has completed its fundamental review of the law in this area. The final report will take into account the findings of the Nuffield Foundation and is due in July. The report will support the Government in understanding what types of ceremonies are taking place, why they are taking place and what the demand for them is, and who conducts them, in order to consider the implications of changing the law on marriage on all groups.

Baroness Scott of Bybrook
Baroness in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip)
10th Jan 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Integrated Communities Strategy Green Paper published on 14 March 2018, whether they can provide an update on their progress in exploring "the legal and practical challenges of limited reform relating to the law on marriage and religious weddings."

This is a difficult issue which requires careful consideration. The Law Commission are looking at aspects of the problem through their review of the law governing legal marriage ceremonies. This review will present options for reforms to modernise marriage law, including in relation to who can solemnise a marriage and ways of ensuring that fewer weddings conducted according to religious rites result in a marriage that the law does not recognise at all. The Government will consider the case for more comprehensive and enduring reform to marriage law once the Law Commission’s recommendations have been received.

A separate Nuffield Foundation study, launched in September 2020 and due to report shortly, is investigating why marriage ceremonies occur outside of the legal framework for weddings in England and Wales, and the findings of this report will also be carefully considered. Any proposals affecting how religious groups are permitted to conduct marriages must be thoroughly assessed for their fairness.

30th Nov 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of whether British Muslim women have the rights set out in paragraph nine of Resolution 2253 of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, published on 22 January 2019, specifically in relation (1) to obtaining the protection of legal marriage, and (2) to discriminatory practices in relation to religious divorce.

The law has long made provision for couples, including Muslim couples, to marry in their place of worship in a way that gives them legal rights and protections. The Government shares the concern that some people may nonetheless marry in a way that does not give them these legal rights and protections, without appreciating the consequences.

We continue to explore limited reform and non-legislative options in this area with the greatest of care. This work will be informed by the forthcoming reports from the Law Commission on weddings, and from the Nuffield Foundation on religious weddings.

20th Apr 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to their Integrated Communities Strategy Green Paper, published on 14 March 2018, what progress they have made on exploring "the legal and practical challenges of limited reform relating to the law on marriage and religious weddings".

As the Government has made clear, this is a difficult issue which requires careful consideration. The Law Commission is separately looking at aspects of the problem through their review of the law governing legal marriage ceremonies. The Law Commission has now consulted with a wide range of groups with an interest and is considering the responses received. The Government looks forward to receiving the Law Commission’s final report and recommendations later this year and will give them careful consideration.

The Government is aware that a separate Nuffield Foundation study, launched in September 2020 and due to report later this year, is investigating why marriage ceremonies occur outside of the legal framework for weddings in England and Wales. The Government will also wish to consider its findings.

Any proposals affecting how religious groups are permitted to conduct marriages must be thoroughly assessed for their fairness.

22nd Apr 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what progress they have made on their commitment in the Integrated Communities Strategy Green Paper, published 14 March 2018, to "explore the legal and practical challenges of limited reform relating to the law on marriage and religious weddings".

The Government continues the exploration of both limited reform and non-legislative options that it began in detail last Spring. We are doing so with the greatest care. Any proposals affecting how religious groups are permitted to conduct marriages must be thoroughly assessed for their fairness to all religious groups and for how far they could achieve the change of practice intended.

19th Dec 2019
To ask Her Majesty's Government what progress they have made on their commitment in the Integrated Communities Strategy Green Paper to "explore the legal and practical challenges of limited reform relating to the law on marriage and religious weddings."

The law has long made provision for couples, including Muslim couples, to marry in their place of worship in a way that gives them legal rights and protections. The Government shares the concern that some people may nonetheless marry in a way that does not, and without appreciating the consequences.

The independent Sharia review has recommended an offence apply to religious celebrants marrying in a ceremonythat is outside the ambit of the Marriage Acts.. Any legislative proposal, including such an offence, must be thoroughly assessed for its fairness to all religious groups and for how far it could achieve the change of practice intended. That is why it is with the greatest care that the Government is continuing the exploration of both limited reform and non-legislative options that it began in detail in the spring.

Separately from this exploration, the Law Commission has begun its weddings project. It will make recommendations for how the wider law on getting married in England and Wales can be systematically reformed in a way that is simple, fair and consistent.