I completely agree with the noble Baroness that our work in international development is firmly in the national interest and absolutely enhances our global reputation abroad. We have been a world leader in many things, including malaria. We need to focus, rightly, on the Covid-19 response, but we must not forget or reverse the significant gains that have been made over the years. We have many proud achievements on malaria, and the UK will continue to lead the way on eradicating malaria as part of our work on ending preventable deaths.
I welcome the Minister’s comprehensive replies and have a simple question for her. On the back of my views that the merger will add greatly to UK influence in global leadership, given that public health is central to all our thinking at the moment internationally, can the Minister reassure me that, from now on, we will use our contribution to the World Health Organization, where we are in fact the largest and most powerful contributor, to the greatest possible extent? That means perhaps not just contributing, but ensuring that the WHO has reorganisation in the centre, or whatever is needed, because it has lagged a little bit, which is why we have lost the United States. Will the Minister reassure me that she will do everything she can to make Britain more powerful in the World Health Organization dimension?
As my noble friend says, we are a leading donor to the WHO. We have already pledged £75 million to help it to lead international efforts to stop the spread of the virus and then the pandemic. The UK has long been an advocate for reform in the WHO. We want to see the WHO continue to learn lessons on how to improve its response to global health emergencies. The new department will help us in this aim, bringing together our diplomatic engagement with the WHO and other bilateral donors, and also our development funding, for the first time.
My Lords, the UK remains deeply concerned by the plight of the Rohingya and other ethnic groups in Myanmar. I saw the situation for myself on a recent visit to Bangladesh and Myanmar and saw the good work that both UK aid and the UN are doing in those camps. I am not aware of the situation that the noble Baroness raises, but I will go back, look into it and write to her.
My Lords, is the noble Baroness aware of the acute suffering of the Yazidi people, particularly girls and women, simply because of their beliefs? Will she be willing to say—I am sure she will—that freedom of belief encompasses the Yazidi faith as well as everybody else’s, and that their suffering should never have happened?
My Lords, I entirely agree with my noble friend and thank her for highlighting the plight of the Yazidis. The UK has played a crucial role in galvanising international efforts to secure justice for the Yazidi people and the many other victims of Daesh crimes in Iraq. That includes leadership in UN Security Council resolutions and support through our aid programmes. I look forward to meeting her guests later: we have some Yazidi ladies visiting us today and I join my noble friend in paying tribute to their incredible courage and resilience in the face of such challenging circumstances.