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The UK Government remains committed to delivering 12 years of quality education for all girls. Education, particularly girls’ education, will remain a top priority in the new Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, and a priority for the Prime Minister personally. In my role as Special Envoy for Girls’ Education, I am working to accelerate progress towards getting marginalised girls into schools, staying there and staying safe, and benefitting from quality learning. I am working closely with international partners to encourage greater global ambition, coordination, and investment on girls’ education.
The UK is committed to working with our Action Coalition co-leads to ensure our joint objectives focus on tackling all forms of violence against women and girls and reaching the most marginalised, including older women.
We recognise that there is a knowledge gap in understanding the different forms, causes, and consequences of violence against older women. To help fill this gap, DFID is investing £6 million to support the UN Women-led flagship programme initiative on gender data – Making Every Woman and Girl Count – and the joint UN Programme on Violence Against Women and Girls data. These programmes are working to improve the production, availability, accessibility and use of quality data and statistics on gender equality and gender-based violence. This includes developing new global methodologies and standards for capturing older women’s experience of violence, including agreeing a minimum set of questions for women over 50 to be added to existing surveys or modules. We will ensure the Action Coalition draws on this learning from Making Every Woman and Girl Count.
DFID’s Inclusive Data Charter Action Plan (March 2019) also sets out our commitment to improve the quality, quantity and availability of inclusive and disaggregated data, including by age, in DFID and across the global system.
Last financial year (2019/20), UK aid helped feed over 650,000 Yemenis every month, treated over 70,000 children for malnutrition and provided over 1 million people with improved water supply and basic sanitation.
Minister Cleverly announced the UK’s new pledge of £160 million in humanitarian funding for Yemen in the 2020/21 financial year at the Yemen Pledging Conference on 2 June. This pledge makes us the third largest donor to Yemen in the world this year and takes our total commitment to Yemen to nearly £1 billion since the conflict began.
Minister Cleverly announced on 2 June at the UN’s Yemen Pledging Conference that the UK will be providing £160 million to the UN’s 2020 Yemen appeal this financial year (2020/21) to help respond to Yemen’s humanitarian crisis. We remain committed to supporting the UN to deliver vital humanitarian assistance across Yemen in order to alleviate suffering and meet the needs of millions of vulnerable Yemenis.
Ministers and officials continue to engage closely with other donors and the UN to ensure a coordinated international approach to the current excessive restrictions on humanitarian access, particularly in Houthi held areas. We welcome recent steps taken by the Houthis to improve humanitarian access but are clear that more progress is needed, or humanitarian organisations will be unable to continue delivering vital assistance.
According to the UN, Yemen remains the world’s largest humanitarian crisis, with 80% of the entire population, over 24 million people, requiring some form of humanitarian assistance. More than 20 million people in Yemen do not have reliable access to food and almost 10 million people face extreme food shortages.
We are concerned that the outbreak of COVID-19 in Yemen is already exacerbating this devastating humanitarian situation.
DFID modelling estimates that over 100,000 Yemenis are now likely to have been infected by COVID-19. With only half of Yemen’s health facilities currently functional, we are extremely concerned by the capacity of the Yemen’s healthcare system to respond.
Ultimately, a political settlement is the only way to properly address the worsening humanitarian crisis. We therefore strongly encourage all parties to engage with Special Envoy Martin Griffiths to find a peaceful solution to the conflict.
We recognise that older people, people with disabilities, people with pre-existing conditions, and those with complex needs are disproportionately impacted and at more serious risk of severe complications and fatality due to COVID-19. The UK is at the forefront of the global response to COVID-19 and has, to date, committed up to £544 million of aid to tackle this global pandemic.
As part of this, the UK is providing £10 million to the World Health Organisation’s (WHO’s) Emergency Flash Appeal. We are working with all of our humanitarian partners to ensure that the most vulnerable, including older people and people with disabilities are reached and supported.
Our funding to the WHO is supporting countries to prepare for and respond to COVID-19. This includes through its Operational Planning Guidelines on public health measures, which outline specific considerations to be given to particularly marginalised groups, including older people. The WHO has also published specific tailored guidance on people with disabilities.
Information about our nutrition spend in financial year 2021-22 will be publicly available through Development Tracker in due course.
The portfolio, agreed by the Foreign Secretary, will focus our investment and expertise on issues where the UK can make the most difference and achieve maximum strategic coherence, impact, and value for money.
Abdulhadi Mushaima was released on 11 March 2021. He served 3 weeks of a 3 month prison sentence. He was released under alternative sentencing measures.
We have read the news release, along with the Bahraini Ombudsman's response to the Human Rights Watch report which provides important clarification and invites Human Rights Watch to provide further details of the cases in question. We believe the recent ratification of the Correctional Justice Act is a positive development for the protection of children in Bahrain, and will monitor its implementation.
Covid restrictions prevented Embassy staff from attending the hearings in person. Sayed Hasan Ameen was sentenced to 6 months imprisonment, which was replaced with a rehabilitation program under alternative sentencing arrangements within the spirit of the new Child Reform Justice Act. We welcome the retroactive application of the new law's content and purpose, and will monitor its implementation.
I raised the cases of Mohammed Ramadhan and Husain Moosa during my recent meeting with Bahraini Foreign Minister Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani. The Minister for the Middle East and I raised the use of the death penalty in Bahrain with the Foreign Minister, reiterating that the UK opposes the death penalty, in all circumstances, as a matter of principle. The UK also provides technical assistance in support of Bahrain's ongoing reform agenda. Any technical assistance we provide is kept under regular review to ensure compliance with our human rights obligations and the Overseas Security and Justice Assistance process
The Government of Bahrain has made clear that access to appropriate medical care for those in detention continues to be guaranteed, which means under normal circumstances that any prisoner wishing to see a doctor is taken to the prison clinic, with referral to specialist facilities where required; but that as part of Bahrain's COVID-19 precautions, all initial medical consultations now take place via video calls. Where necessary, physical appointments with external medical specialists continue to be available, although, in line with guidance issued by the World Health Organization, prisoners seeing external specialists are required to isolate for 10 days in a separate detention facility before returning to prison ensuring the safety of both patients and medical staff. We welcome these assurances from the Government of Bahrain, urge continued transparency and would encourage those with any concerns about treatment in detention to raise them with the appropriate Bahraini human rights oversight body.
The UK and Bahrain have a close and longstanding relationship. We benefit from a genuine and open dialogue in which we work together on a wide range of mutually beneficial issues while also raising points of significant difference with one another. The UK provides technical assistance in support of Bahrain's ongoing reform agenda. Any technical assistance we provide is kept under regular review to ensure compliance with our human rights obligations and the Overseas Security and Justice Assistance process.
The FCDO suspended in part its Counter Proliferation Programme for FY 20/21 as we reprioritised to tackle the Covid-19 response, and in view of HMG's Overseas Development Assistance prioritisation exercise.
Covid-19 has made it more difficult to carry out international programme work with many Counter Proliferation programmes being deferred to next year.
However, we have made exceptions for critical national security activity for the remainder of FY 20/21 - including support to the IAEA in relation to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on Iran. The Foreign Secretary has since approved remaining programme allocations for this financial year. The Counter Proliferation Arms Control Centre in the new FCDO is now assessing how to deliver a programme to ensure that we meet critical counter proliferation objectives for the remainder of this FY.
We are aware of the Bar Human Rights Committee report published on 22 July and are carefully considering its findings. As the Foreign Secretary said during a Statement to the House on 20 July, we have particularly grave concerns about the gross human rights violations being perpetrated against Uyghurs and other minorities in Xinjiang. We have repeatedly urged China to live up to its international obligations and raised our serious concerns about the human rights situation in Xinjiang, including at the UN Human Rights Council where we delivered a joint statement on behalf of 27 other countries on 30 June.
As the Foreign Secretary said during a Statement to the House on 20 July, we have particularly grave concerns about the gross human rights violations being perpetrated against Uyghurs and other minorities in Xinjiang. We have repeatedly urged China to live up to its international obligations and raised our serious concerns about the human rights situation in Xinjiang, including at the UN Human Rights Council where we delivered a joint statement on behalf of 27 other countries on 30 June. We have also repeatedly called for China to allow the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights meaningful access to the region, including on 30 June at the UN Human Rights Council.
We are deeply concerned that on 13 July Bahrain's Court of Cassation upheld the death penalty verdicts imposed on Mohammed Ramadhan and Husain Moosa. Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, Minister responsible for Human Rights, reiterated our concern in a tweet of 14 July. We have raised both cases at senior levels with the Government of Bahrain. Lord Ahmad also raised the cases with the Bahraini Ambassador to the UK on 14 July. The Government of Bahrain is fully aware that the UK opposes the death penalty, in all circumstances, as a matter of principle.
The UK intends to participate fully in the World Press Freedom Conference in the Hague from 18 - 20 October, though we do not yet know whether COVID-19 restrictions will allow attendance in person, or whether participation will be virtual. The UK Government remains committed to marking this joint celebration of World Press Freedom Day and the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists, and we look forward to continuing to work closely with our Dutch partners on press freedom.
The Government believes that the principal problem concerning the safety and independence of journalists and other media professions relates to the inadequate implementation of existing relevant human rights frameworks and instruments, which if respected themselves provide sufficient protection. We are currently investigating how the Media Freedom Campaign can best add value and reinforce existing mechanisms, including those of the UN and other international organisations.