Penny Mordaunt – 2018 Statement on Humanitarian Situation in Idlib

Below is the text of the statement made by Penny Mordaunt, the Secretary of State for International Development, in the House of Commons on 13 September 2018.

The Syrian regime’s systematic and blatant disregard for international humanitarian and human rights law during the eight years long civil war has resulted in the worst humanitarian catastrophe of this century so far. An estimated 400,000 people have been killed, 13 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance, 6.2 million have been internally displaced and 5.6 million refugees have fled to neighbouring countries.

The UK remains extremely concerned over escalating military action in the north-west of Syria by the Syrian regime and its international backers, putting at risk almost 3 million people, many of whom have fled to the region to seek shelter. The last few days has seen dozens of Russian and regime airstrikes against areas of Idlib. Last weekend, we received reports of three hospitals, two White Helmets offices and three ambulances being attacked and put out of service, leaving thousands with no access to medical care. Last month alone there were over 100 civilian fatalities, and since the start the start of this month, already 30,500 people have been displaced.

A disaster in Idlib is still avoidable. It is not too late for the Syrian regime and Russia to change tack. The British Government continue to call on them to work with Turkey, the UN Security Council and the rest of the international community to find a negotiated way forward to avoid the needless loss of human life. If they were genuinely concerned about the presence of terrorist groups, this is what they would do. Sadly, the experience of Aleppo, eastern Ghouta and elsewhere is that this is just a pretext, and that their real intention is to reimpose regime control through brutal military means regardless of the cost.

So, in addition to our diplomatic efforts, we are working with the UN, Turkey, humanitarian agencies and our international partners to undertake contingency planning in case the regime and Russia indeed launch a full-scale offensive against Idlib in the coming days and weeks. Our aim is to ensure that the lives of innocent Syrian civilians are saved.

For this reason today I announce that the UK will provide additional aid funding of up to £32 million for north-west Syria. This money will help to provide shelter, clean water and sanitation, mental health services, and support heath workers and facilities. This is our second uplift of emergency funding for northern Syria in recent ​weeks. On 17 August I announced a £10 million package of support, including the provision of emergency assistance and vital support for medical centres and mobile medical clinics.

Sadly, north-west Syria is just the latest target for the regime in eight years of devastating civil war. Over that time the UK has been at the forefront of the international response, providing life-saving and life-changing support for millions of people in places like Idlib, Aleppo, eastern Ghouta and most recently south-west Syria. We are the second largest bilateral donor and have pledged £2.71 billion to date, our largest ever response to a single humanitarian crisis. Last year our support in Idlib governorate provided approximately 653,000 people with access to clean drinking water, immunised 1,335,000 children under five, helped 321,000 children access education and provided 398,000 medical consultations.

But money alone is not enough. We are working with the UN to ensure robust planning and preparation for north-west Syria. With our international partners, the UK continues to use our position in the UN Security Council and the International Syria Support Group to advocate above all else for the protection of civilians, and calls on all parties to allow humanitarian agencies unfettered access to deliver aid to those most in need.

Regardless of what happens in Idlib, this sadly will not be the end of the suffering of the Syrian people. To achieve that requires a political solution, leading to an inclusive, non-sectarian Government which can unite the country and protect the rights of all Syrians. That is why we continue to support the UN-led Geneva process aimed at reaching a negotiated settlement.

Penny Mordaunt – 2018 Speech on Modern Slavery

Below is the text of the speech made by Penny Mordaunt, the Secretary of State for International Development, in New York, United States, on 24 September 2018.

Good morning and thank you all for being here. I’m Penny Mordaunt and I’m the UK Secretary of State for International Development and it’s my privilege to be chairing the session today.

A year ago, the UK Prime Minister was joined by world leaders to launch a Call to Action to eliminate the scourge of forced labour, modern slavery and human trafficking from our societies once and for all. It is fitting that they came together here at the United Nations General Assembly because the UN is the centre of this fight.

We are making progress. But we need more urgency. As the Secretary General has said, we need to respond to people trafficking with the same speed and sense of purpose as we do with drug and gun trafficking.

The Call to Action is not meant to replicate existing frameworks like the Palermo Protocol to counter Human Trafficking, the Forced Labour Protocol or initiatives such as Alliance 8.7. It is here to energise all of them. To put combatting modern slavery at the top of our political agendas and to spur countries to increase their efforts. To demonstrate our collective will to deliver on our agenda and the 2030 commitment.

I’m pleased to stand before you today to report that 77 countries, well over a third of the UN membership, have now endorsed this Call to Action. And I encourage those who have not yet done so to join us in this visible statement of intent, which will now be housed on a new knowledge platform that is being launched by the UN University today.

I am also delighted to be joined by my esteemed co-hosts from Argentina, Australia, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Canada, Nigeria and the United States, countries who have been championing this agenda. It is a true demonstration of the need to tackle this crime in every region of the world. Shortly you will hear from them on the steps they have taken over the last year to turn that political will into action.

Because whether it’s young girls affected by trafficking across borders for sex, men and women forced to work in factories and fields, or the child labour that goes into our smartphones, no nation is free from the terrible abuses and violence that go hand in hand with these human rights violations.

The statistics are shocking. At least 40 million victims of modern slavery, 25 million victims of forced labour, and perhaps the most troubling – one in four victims of modern slavery is a child. And beyond those statistics are real people, enduring real suffering.

Child slavery is truly one of the most heinous crimes imaginable . It has no place in any society. We must do more to protect and support all those at risk of falling into the clutches of people traffickers and organised criminals, but particularly those children who are most vulnerable. Children caught up in conflict, many of those who have lost parents or carers, children displaced from their homes because of war, child refugees trying to escape along the dangerous routes on their own.

And that is why the UK is stepping up its support. Last year, our Prime Minister vowed to double the amount the UK spends on combatting modern slavery up to £150 million. And today, I can report that we are, in fact, increasing our funding to over £200 million so we can reach those most in need of our help.

£10 million of that will go to UNICEF to protect more than 400,000 boys and girls at risk of violence and slavery in the Horn of Africa and along migratory routes in Somalia, Sudan and Ethiopia. UK Aid, working with UNICEF, will provide birth registration services so children can legally prove their age, identity and nationality. Giving them protections against forced labour and underage marriage. Our support will also educate vulnerable children against the dangers of trafficking, support social workers and carers to respond to the needs of vulnerable people, and help reintegrate victims back into society.

And we are investing £26 million in a new regional programme to tackle child labour in South Asia. This will be alongside a £5 million to support the Government of Bangladesh fulfil its ambitious commitment to end hazardous Child Labour by 2021.

As our Prime Minister said on her recent visit to South Africa, we have to tackle the root causes of instability and extremism that fuel people trafficking.

That means promoting political stability and economic growth. Creating the quality jobs to meet the needs and aspirations of a growing and young population, and helping lift people out of poverty themselves.

The UK has committed £21 million to support the Government of Nigeria in their efforts to combat trafficking, £3 million of which will provide 30,000 improved livelihoods in Edo State, a known trafficking hotspot. By providing better jobs than those traffickers and criminals promise, we hope to reduce the number of people who end up being duped and exploited.

Traffickers thrive in fragile and conflict-afflicted states. That is why we are pledging up to £12 million, through UK Aid Connect, in areas of concern in Africa, to equip thousands of girls and boys with the knowledge and skills to help them avoid falling victim to traffickers. As well as improving livelihoods opportunities for families this funding will also support businesses to improve their supply chains to ensure child labour is eradicated.

These are just some of the steps that the UK is taking with our partners. Working together to end trafficking is firmly in the interests of all our nations. As well as acting individually to stop abuses, we must have a more joined-up approach. That means better co-ordination between governments, UN agencies, civil society and the private sector. And it also means greater action from the development community.

This is why the UK, alongside the US, has committed £20 million to the Global Fund to End Modern Slavery, which aims to develop new and innovative approaches to tackling slavery. The fund aims to be transformative and we hope that other donors will invest.

Because delivering true change can only happen if we act in partnership and at scale. And this also means getting the private sector on board.

It is shocking that forced labour is embedded in almost every supply chain. It has become ‘normalised’. When so little value reaches the people working at the end of our supply chains, it is not surprising that slavery is so widespread. It is not good enough for businesses to turn a blind eye or say they did not know.

We need every CEO in every company to recognise this reality and place at the heart of their business plans this issue. And some companies and investors are leading that change.

In our second panel today, you will hear more about the innovative solutions and approaches that companies are championing, such as Blockchain technology, to trace the origin of a product and its journey from source to sale. And we need more of these leaders, and to tap into the expertise of those at the forefront of technological innovation, if we are going to be successful in this fight.

But as we do this, must also ensure our own house is in order. That is why I can announce that the UK will take action to eliminate slavery from our own public procurement practises alongside a review of our Modern Slavery Act to ensure that our legislation is as strong and effective as it can be. And the message here is clear. Doing business with the UK requires you to act responsibly.

I hope this event today will shine a light on the encouraging progress, innovative solutions and lasting partnerships we are making, as well as the extra steps that we must take.

Because we must not forget that as we speak, millions of men, women and children are living and working in unimaginable conditions, facing violence, abuse, exploitation on a daily basis.

We owe it to them to put our strong words into even stronger actions, to hold ourselves accountable for our commitments, and to ensure that each day is a day closer to ending this injustice.

And now I would now like to introduce Rani Hong – a survivor of child trafficking and a leading voice in the fight against modern slavery. Her dedication to this injustice is truly inspirational and I am delighted that she has been able to join us here today.

Penny Mordaunt – 2018 Speech at Global Disability Summit

Below is the text of the speech made by Penny Mordaunt, the Secretary of State for International Development, on 24 July 2018.

It is wonderful to have you all here today, especially you your Excellency and the first lady of Ecuador. Here at the London Olympic Park – host to the world’s largest Paralympic Games in 2012 and the spiritual birthplace of the first-ever organised sporting event for disabled athletes in 1948.

I am delighted to be here today co-hosting this event with Government of Kenya and International Disability Alliance.

Thank you all for joining us today – and in particular, thanks to the Disabled Person’s Organisations and people with disabilities, who have led this Summit from conception to delivery.

Today, we have come together to work as partners and collectively step-up our efforts to improve the lives of people with disabilities around the world.

We are here to tackle the root causes of stigma, discrimination and abuse; to work towards inclusive education and employment for all. And to harness the power of technology, innovation and assistive devices for people with disabilities across the world.

Today we focus on moving from words to action; working together as partners; and holding ourselves and each other to account for our promises.

We are all starting from a low base – and the UK recognises we also have work to do as well and that is why today we will launch a range of dedicated policy and programming to champion the rights of the most marginalised and vulnerable people with disabilities.

We will launch ‘AT Scale’, a partnership for assistive technology (with partners such as USAID, WHO, UNICEF and GDI Hub) to transform access and affordability for life-changing Assistive Technology (AT) such as wheelchairs, prosthetics, hearing aids and glasses.

Access to AT is a critical enabler for inclusive education, economic empowerment and participation in communities. But at present only 10% of the 1 billion people in the world who need assistive products and services have access to them.

Our ambition is that 500m people globally will be being reached by essential assistive technology by 2030.

We are launching a DFID Scale Up on Inclusive Education – with a new education policy that has a clear promise for the most disadvantaged children. Through strengthening education programming; we commit to support countries including Ethiopia, Rwanda, Pakistan, Tanzania, Zimbabwe and Jordan.

In Ethiopia, we will transform and develop 687 Inclusive Education Resource Centres (IERCs) nationwide by 2022 to promote the inclusion of 24,000 children with disabilities.

In Rwanda, we will train 12,000 teachers of English and Maths in inclusive education teaching methods.

In Tanzania, we will support important reforms in primary and lower secondary schools to improve learning outcomes for all children particularly for girls and children with disabilities.

We are also launching the Disability Inclusive Development Programme – a new six-year cutting-edge innovation and scale-up programme to find out what works, for whom, when and why.

Through a ground-breaking consortium, led by Sightsavers, several UK International NGOs and Summit co-hosts, International Disability Alliance, the programme will deliver tangible outcomes to improve the lives of people with disabilities.

This includes improved educational attainment and health outcomes, jobs and livelihoods and reduced stigma and discrimination.

By 2024 we aim to enable up to 100,000 women, men, girls and boys with disabilities to access health services; up to 45,000 people with disabilities to increase their incomes; 10,000 children with disabilities to go to school and access education as well as reaching millions of people through interventions to tackle stigma and discrimination.

We are also committed to a DFID scale up on disability inclusion over the next 5 years and we will be publishing a new disability framework later this year, setting out how we would put disability at the heart of our work. And the legacy today will be a ten point Charter for Change which I would like us all to sign up to. This plan for action will be published and fully accessible. Progress will be monitored regularly and we will all be held accountable for our pledges. Empowering people with disabilities does not just affect the individuals – it leads to better decisions and more effective outcomes for communities, for nations and for the world.

Unless every one of our citizens can reach their full potential our nations never will. Let today be the start of our journey.

Now is the time.

Penny Mordaunt – 2018 Statement on Sexual Exploitation in the Aid Sector

Below is the text of the statement made by Penny Mordaunt, the Secretary of State for International Development, in the House of Commons on 17 May 2018.

Following the written ministerial statement of 20 March, Official Report, column 11WS, ​I am updating the House on what the Department for International Development (DFID) is doing to protect recipients of UK aid and those working in the sector from harm—safeguarding for short—with our focus on preventing and responding to sexual exploitation, abuse and harassment.

Ensuring DFID’s programmes meet the highest standards

Around 60% of DFID’s funding is delivered through multilateral organisations. On 21 April I co-hosted with the Dutch Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Co-operation a roundtable with senior representatives of international financial institutions—I am placing the list of names in an annex to this document in the Libraries of both Houses—and discussed how we can pool best practice and resources to tackle this issue across the sector. All 10 institutions signed a joint statement reaffirming their commitment to preventing sexual harassment, abuse and exploitation, both within their own institutions and their operations, many of which are funded by DFID. I will be pressing for them to translate this commitment into further concrete actions in 2018.

From my recent meetings in Washington it is clear that multilateral organisations are taking this issue extremely seriously and looking to learn from previous cases and improve their systems and processes. For example, the World Bank has strengthened its staff rules covering sexual misconduct and abuse and is rolling out staff training and a wider review of its human resources policies with respect to sexual harassment and exploitation.

The UN Secretary-General has made clear his zero tolerance approach to both sexual exploitation and abuse and sexual harassment. In the past two weeks I have discussed safeguarding with the heads of the United Nations Development Programme and the United Nations High Commission for Refugees. At the UN system chief executives board meeting in London earlier in May, Secretary-General António Guterres led a special session with the heads of 31 UN agencies, funds and programmes on addressing sexual harassment within the UN system. This included a new 24-hour helpline for staff to report harassment and access support, so fast-tracking complaints. I am pressing for agreement to a consistent UN-wide approach on reporting, investigation and outreach, and support when cases of sexual exploitation, abuse or harassment occur.

I am also pressing all organisations that DFID funds to learn from best and worst practice. Last month Save the Children UK withdrew from bidding for new UK Government funding while it looks to learn lessons and the Charity Commission carries out a statutory inquiry into its handling of internal cases.

Following my letter to DFID partners seeking assurances on their safeguarding policies and procedures, I have now received responses from our top suppliers, multilateral partners, development capital partners and research partners. This is a total of 283 organisations. I will publish a high-level summary of the returns on gov.uk later this month updating the information published on 20 March on the 179 charities directly receiving UK aid. I am including the link to that document in an annex to this document in the Libraries of both Houses.

Following the 5 March summit organised by DFID and the Charity Commission, DFID has convened four NGO working groups and an external experts group to ​develop concrete ideas. I met representatives of the working groups and the experts this week to discuss which of their initial proposals could make the biggest difference. The work is focusing on:

accountability to beneficiaries and survivors—prioritising those who have suffered and survived exploitation, abuse and violence, and designing systems of accountability and transparency that have beneficiaries at their centre;

how the aid sector can demonstrate a step change in shifting organisational culture to tackle power imbalances and gender inequality;

ensuring that safeguards are integrated throughout the employment cycle, including work on the proposal for a global register/passport; and

providing full accountability through rigorous reporting and complaints mechanisms, and ensuring that concerns are heard and acted on.

Ensuring all UK aid meets the highest standards

On 28 March I chaired a meeting of UK Government Departments that spend official development assistance (ODA). I updated Ministers on DFID’s work including the new safeguarding due diligence standards which I announced in March. Following a successful pilot, the new process will be rolled out to other programmes later this month. DFID will write to all other UK ODA spending departments with the details should they wish to adopt the same approach.

This month senior DFID officials have held further meetings with opposite numbers from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the Cabinet Office and the Charity Commission to discuss how we can raise our own performances on safeguarding and that of others in the aid sector.

I am in contact with the Ministry of Defence about pre-deployment training for peacekeeping operations, and DFID’s HR director has been working with colleagues across Whitehall to drive up internal HR standards.

Working with other donors to drive up standards

The Department is working closely with Canada as G7 presidency and at a meeting of G7 Development Ministers at the end of May I have been asked to lead a discussion on sexual exploitation, abuse and harassment.

DFID is now chairing monthly meetings of a group of 15 donors—I am placing the list of names in the Libraries of both Houses—to seek collective action including in our key implementing partners.

DFID is also working with the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) of the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) to explore how to measure donors’ performance on sexual exploitation, abuse and harassment as part regular peer reviews. I plan to write to all DAC donors, observers and other major donors updating them on our work and seeking their suggestions.

The UK is leading the change needed on this issue. We have made good progress since March and I will use every opportunity possible in the coming weeks and months to push for much more. I will host an international conference in London on 18 October.

Penny Mordaunt – 2018 Speech on Syria

Below is the text of the speech made by Penny Mordaunt, the Secretary of State for International Development, in the House of Commons on 30 April 2018.

Let me take this opportunity to put on record that the aid workers who have been attacked in south Sudan are very much in our thoughts. Aid workers should never be a target, and I am sure that the whole House will want to send our good wishes to them and their families at this difficult time.

I want to update the House on the United Kingdom’s support for the people of Syria. I am keenly aware that Members are deeply concerned about the level of suffering experienced by millions of Syrians. The United Kingdom has shown, and will continue to show, leadership in the international humanitarian response.

In the eighth year of the conflict, the plight of the Syrian people remains grave. The Syrian regime appears to have no intention of ending the suffering of its own people, although the opposition have placed no conditions on peace negotiations. The barbaric attack in Douma on innocent civilians, including young children, was yet another example of the regime’s disregard for its responsibility to protect civilians. Some may seek to cast doubt over the attack and who was responsible for it, but intelligence and first-hand accounts from non-governmental organisations and aid workers are clear. The World Health Organisation received reports that hundreds of patients had arrived at Syrian heath facilities on the night of 7 April with

“signs and symptoms consistent with exposure to toxic chemicals.”

Regime helicopters were seen over Douma on that evening, and the opposition do not operate helicopters or use barrel bombs.

Assad and his backers—Russia and Iran—will attempt to block every diplomatic effort to hold the regime accountable for these reprehensible and illegal tactics. That was why the United Kingdom, together with our United States and French allies, took co-ordinated, limited and targeted action against the regime’s chemical weapons capabilities to alleviate humanitarian suffering. Britain is clear: we will defend the global rules-based system that keeps us all safe. I welcome the support that we have received from Members and from the international community. We will work with the United Nations and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons to create a new independent mechanism to attribute responsibility for chemical weapons attacks. We will work with France on the International Partnership against Impunity for the Use of Chemical Weapons, and we will work with the EU to establish a new sanctions regime against those responsible for chemical weapons use.

In wielding its UN veto 12 times, Russia has given a green light to Assad to perpetrate human rights atrocities against his own people. This is a regime that has used nearly 70,000 barrel bombs on civilian targets; a regime that tries to starve its people into submission, although the UN Security Council has called for unhindered humanitarian access; a regime that has continued to obstruct aid to eastern Ghouta and removes medical supplies from the rare aid convoys that do get in; a regime that deploys rape as a weapon of war, with nearly eight out of 10 people detained by it reported to have suffered sexual violence; and a regime that deliberately bombs schools and hospitals, and targets aid workers and emergency responders as they race to the scene to help.

We must support the innocent victims of these atrocities. All warring parties must comply with the Geneva conventions on the protected status of civilians and other non-combatants. There must be an immediate ceasefire, and safe access for aid workers and medical staff to do their jobs.

We also want to adapt what we do to the new reality of this war. That is why I have announced the new creating hope in conflict fund with USAID, to work with the private sector to find new technology to save lives in conflict zones. Britain will establish a humanitarian innovation hub to develop new capabilities to hinder regimes that appear determined to slay innocent men, women and children.

Our aid has made a difference. Despite the horrific violence meted out by Assad, we have been able to prevent mass starvation and large-scale outbreaks of disease. When we are able to reach the people who need our help, our aid works. We are the second largest bilateral donor to the humanitarian response in Syria. Since 2012, our support has provided over 22 million monthly food rations, almost 10 million medical consultations, and over 9 million relief packages. But the suffering continues. Some 13.1 million people are now in need of humanitarian assistance. Over half of Syria’s population has been displaced by violence, with nearly 6 million seeking refuge in neighbouring countries. In north-west Syria, an intensification of hostilities and the arrival of an additional 60,000 people from eastern Ghouta is stretching scarce resources. Today, 65% of the population of Idlib—over 1.2 million people—have been forced from their homes.

At last week’s conference I announced that the UK will provide at least £450 million this year, and £300 million next year, to alleviate extreme suffering in Syria and to provide vital support in neighbouring countries. This will be in addition to our support for the second EU facility for refugees in Turkey. We have now committed £2.71 billion since 2012, our largest ever response to a single humanitarian crisis.

Our pledge will help to keep medical facilities open to save lives. We will deploy protective equipment to keep medics and rescue workers safe. We will deploy antidote stocks to treat any further victims of chemical weapons. We will train doctors and nurses to treat trauma wounds. We will focus on education, making sure that every child in the region has access to quality education even in the most trying circumstances, on steps to protect civilians, and on ensuring that those responsible for attacks face justice.

We will help to support the millions of Syrian refugees sheltering in neighbouring countries. Our friends in the region—Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey in particular—continue to demonstrate extraordinary generosity by opening their doors to millions fleeing the conflict in Syria. We must continue to offer them our fullest support. Last week I also announced that the UK will host an international conference with Jordan in London later this year. It will showcase Jordan’s economic reform plans and aspiration to build a thriving private sector, and mobilise international investment.

There are refugees who cannot be supported in the region: people requiring urgent medical treatment, survivors of violence and torture, and women and children at risk of exploitation. We will work closely with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees to identify those most at risk and bring them to the UK. We are helping but, with Russia’s support, Assad continues to bomb his own people, and that is why so many continue to die and so many have fled their homes.

There can be no military solution to the Syrian civil war. As UN special representative Staffan de Mistura said in Brussels last week, the Assad regime risks a pyrrhic victory unless it and its backers engage in a genuine political process. Only this can deliver reconciliation and the restoration of Syria as a prosperous, secure and stable state. The UK will continue to support the efforts of the UN, under the Geneva process, to this end.

The obstacles remain serious. The regime has shown no inclination to engage seriously so far, and the Security Council remains divided. But the international community cannot, and should not, resign itself to failure. The costs for Syria, for the region, and for the wider international rules-based system are too great. The Foreign Secretary was in Paris last Thursday to discuss with key partners how we should intensify our efforts to bring this conflict, and its causes, to an end. While we actively work to find a political solution, the UK will continue to stand alongside the people of Syria and the region to do what we can to alleviate human suffering, and to demand immediate access for aid workers to all those who need our help. I commend this statement to the House.

Penny Mordaunt – 2018 Statement on Syria and the Brussels Conference

Below is the text of the statement made by Penny Mordaunt, the Secretary of State for International Development, in the House of Commons on 27 April 2018.

The Syrian regime’s continued and systematic blatant disregard for international humanitarian and human rights law has resulted in an unprecedented humanitarian catastrophe. Medical facilities, schools and aid workers appear to have been deliberately targeted, aid has been blocked to starve communities into submission, and rape and sexual violence have been deployed as routine weapons of war.

13.1 million people are now in need of humanitarian assistance, including 5.6 million with acute needs. In addition, over half of Syria’s population has been displaced by the violence, with 5.6 million seeking refuge in neighbouring countries.

Since the conflict began seven years ago, the UK has been at the forefront of the international response. We are the second largest bilateral donor to the crisis. Our support to Syria and the region since 2012 has provided humanitarian assistance to 17 million people, including over 27,000,000 monthly food rations and over 10,000,000 vaccines, and helped over 7.1 million children gain a decent education.

But now, in the eighth year of the conflict, the humanitarian needs of the Syrian people remain as grave as they have ever been. It is clear that the regime has no intention of ending its people’s suffering. The barbaric chemical weapons attack in Douma on innocent civilians, including young children, was yet another example of the regime’s flagrant disregard for its responsibility to protect civilians.

We must not turn our backs on their suffering. That is why at this week’s Brussels conference for Syria and the region, I announced that the UK will provide at least £450 million this year, and £300 million next year ​to alleviate the extreme suffering in Syria and provide vital support in neighbouring countries. We have now committed £2.71 billion to the Syria crisis since 2012, our largest ever response to a single humanitarian crisis.

Our pledge will help keep medical facilities open so doctors and nurses can save lives, and will help support the millions of Syrian refugees sheltering in neighbouring countries.

Our friends in the region, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey in particular, continue to demonstrate extraordinary generosity in opening their doors and communities to millions fleeing the conflict in Syria.

We must continue to offer them our fullest support. Not least because as the trajectory of the Syrian war has worsened, our collective interests in a stable and prosperous region have increased. Jordan’s resilience and prosperity are critical to the long-run interests of the region. That is why, in addition to the support to the region provided in our pledge, I announced that the UK will host an international conference with Jordan in London later this year: to showcase Jordan’s economic reform plans, its aspiration to build/enable a thriving private sector, and to mobilise support from international investors and donors.

But money alone is not enough. We continue to support the UN-mediated process as the surest path to peace. But while we work towards a political solution in the future that can end this suffering once and for all, we must not give up on improving conditions in the present. In this spirit, I called upon those present at the conference to join the UK in calling for concrete actions to enable greater protection for civilians and aid workers now. That means an immediate ceasefire and immediate safe access so that brave aid workers and medical staff can do their jobs and help the most vulnerable and the most desperate without fear of attack.

The UK is a global leader within the Syria response. I am proud that at this week’s conference, we demonstrated clearly that we will not turn away from the suffering of the Syrian people—we will continue to lead the response in working with others to call out atrocities, mobilise funding, demand access for aid, protect civilians and ultimately, work towards a solution that can put Syria on a path to peace.

Penny Mordaunt – 2018 Speech on the Future of Syria

Below is the text of the speech made by Penny Mordaunt, the Secretary of State for International Development, on 25 April 2018.

Thank you. And I would like to thank the European Union and the United Nations for hosting today’s conference and for being here at this crucial time for the Syrian people.

This time last year my colleague, the Foreign Secretary, began his address by condemning a horrific chemical weapons attack on innocent civilians in Syria.

Today, I must once again begin by condemning another barbaric chemical weapons attack on innocent civilians, including young children, in Douma.

It is clear the Syrian Regime has the capability and the intent to use chemical weapons against own people.

It is also clear the Syrian Regime and its backers, Russia and Iran, will attempt to block every diplomatic effort to hold the Regime accountable for these reprehensible and illegal tactics.

That is why the United Kingdom, together with our US and French allies took co-ordinated, limited and targeted action against the Syrian Regime’s chemical weapons’ capabilities to alleviate humanitarian suffering.

Britain is clear that we must defend the global rules based system that keeps all of us safe. And I welcome the broad support we have had from the international community and at today’s conference.

Russia’s disregard for international norms and laws poses a grave threat to the global order we all rely on for our collective security.

In wielding its UN veto twelve times on Syria, Russia has given a green flag to Assad to perpetrate human rights atrocities against his own people.

This is a Regime that has deliberately bombed schools and hospitals.

A Regime that has used nearly seventy thousand barrel bombs, many on civilian targets.

This is a Regime that tries to starve its people into submission and targets aid workers and emergency responders racing to the scene to help.

And let us not forget. This is a Regime that deploys rape as a weapon of war.

Nearly eight out of ten people detained by the Regime have reported suffering sexual violence.

We are here to address the urgent humanitarian needs in Syria and the wider region, but the only solution to end the suffering is a political settlement that brings peace.

And that is why the UK will continue to support the UN-mediated process as the surest path to peace.

We commend the opposition Syrian Negotiations Commission for signalling their readiness for peace and direct talks with the Regime – without pre-conditions.

We call on Russia and Iran to use their influence to bring the Syrian Regime to the negotiating table.

The longer the delay, the more people are going to die, and the more misery and destruction will be inflicted on Syria.

Until that happens, we must keep pushing for greater humanitarian support to help civilians in Syria and Syrian refugees in the region.

I am pleased to see our partners, in particular the US, Germany, France, Norway and the European Union, building on the commitments we made at the London Syria conference.

And I must pay tribute to the sacrifice and contribution of our friends in Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey, as well as the heroic efforts of ordinary Syrians to save lives in the most horrific circumstances imaginable.

As the trajectory of the Syrian war has worsened – our collective interests in a stable and prosperous region has increased. Jordan’s resilience and prosperity are critical to the long-run interests of the region.

And that is why the UK will host an international conference with Jordan in London later this year: to showcase Jordan’s economic reform plans, its aspiration to build and enable a thriving private sector, and to mobilise support from international investors and donors.

We have seen great generosity over the past seven years, but now is not the time to turn our backs. The humanitarian needs of the Syrian people are as grave now as they have ever been.

The UK has already committed two point four six billion (pounds) to the Syria crisis.

And today we will commit to spend four hundred and fifty million (pounds) in 2018 and three hundred million (pounds) in 2019. This will be in addition to our support for the second EU Facility for Refugees in Turkey.

However, the UK has been clear that we will not provide reconstruction assistance until a credible transition is underway. To do otherwise would run the risk of bolstering the Regime and its barbarity.

But today can’t only be about pledges of money, we must see concrete actions, which will lead to greater protection for civilians and aid workers.

Because, as we speak, starving people are being denied aid by a Regime, which refuses to recognise international humanitarian law and because civilians, including aid workers and frontline responders, are under attack.

Syria is now one of the most dangerous places on earth for aid workers and medical staff. Not only are their supplies and equipment blocked, but they face being targeted themselves in “double tap” bomb attacks by a Regime, which defies every rule of war.

The Union of Medical Care and Relief Organisations reported that five hospitals were bombed, and put out of service, in the space of twenty-four hours in Eastern Ghouta in February.

The victims were patients and medics.

We must support these innocent victims.

And that is why the British Government is demanding that all warring parties comply with the Geneva Conventions on the protected status of civilians and other non-combatants.

We’re calling for an immediate ceasefire and immediate safe access so that brave aid workers and medical staff can do their jobs and help the most vulnerable and the most desperate without fear of attack.

Let us protect the people of Syria, and the people there to help, as we work together to put Syria on a path towards peace.

Penny Mordaunt – 2018 Speech on Education in Syria

Below is the text of the speech made by Penny Mordaunt, the Secretary of State for International Development, on 25 April 2018.

Thank you all and‎ I’d like to start by thanking our friends in Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey.

The progress we have made since the London Syria Conference in 2016 to ensure that every child in the region has access to quality education is a reason for hope even in the most trying of circumstances.

More than a million displaced Syrian children now have received access to some form of education since the start of the conflict eight years ago.

In Jordan, a hundred and sixty-five thousand Syrian children are now in education after the Jordanian Government overhauled national education policies.

In Lebanon, the public education system has doubled in size since the start of conflict, and as a result more than three hundred and sixty-five thousand Syrian children are now receiving an education.

And in Turkey. More than six hundred thousand Syrian children are now learning in schools.

The education these children are receiving is helping us build the skills and knowledge needed to power the economies of tomorrow.

However, there are nearly six hundred and ninety thousand children in the region without access to any education.

And we need to work together to reach these children or we risk creating a ‘Lost Generation.’

Young people without prospects and without hope. Young people who have a critical role to play in the recovery and rebuilding of the region when peace does eventually come.

As we strive to find a political settlement to the conflict, we must also strive to equip young people with the education they need to find employment.

Currently, the region has one of the highest rates of youth unemployment and lowest rates of female labour market participation.

By helping host countries invest and improve their education systems we can help young men and women transform their economies and spur economic growth across the region.

And this mean donors working with governments to make better use of education data to create better teaching programmes to drive up teaching standards.

And donors making more multi-year pledges. With predictable financing we can create long-term, sustainable programmes that deliver results.

But it’s not just more funding but smarter funding that we need.

Funding has to be linked to results and reforms. It must be able to measure progress and see which programmes work and which programmes need to work harder.

The UK will continue to provide long-term, multi-year support to the region to create the education and employment opportunities that will spur the recovery we all want to see.

But as we do so, we must not forget those most at risk from being left behind.

We must ensure that all our efforts to spur economic development also include refugees and the most vulnerable.

That includes –

Working and undocumented children.

Girls.

And children with disabilities.

This July we will also co-host an international Disability Summit in London, which we hope Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey, will attend.

At the summit we will set forth a set of concrete steps to ensure that people with disabilities are given the opportunities to fulfil their potential wherever they are in the world.

Sadly, many Syrian children are living with injuries sustained in the conflict. And it would be an added penalty – and an injustice – if they are now denied the education opportunities we seek to provide other children.

We must ensure that every child in the region has equal access to a quality education and the opportunity to fulfil their potential so we can create the economies of tomorrow, and a future of peace and prosperity.

Thank you.

Penny Mordaunt – 2018 Speech on Gender Equality

Below is the text of the speech made by Penny Mordaunt, the Secretary of State for International Development, on 7 March 2018.

Why are we here today? Why are you here today?

What made you get involved in your respective organisations?

What made you want to help? To change things, to make the world a better place?

Perhaps I should also ask you what made you endure? What made you expose yourself to abuse or ridicule? To overcome fear, to stand up to thugs or threats, or be sassy on social media?

What made you wake up to this cause? What makes the British people donate so generously or volunteer?

Maybe it’s that they are angry, or that you are angry at injustice?

At girls being denied an education? Angry that half of the women in the world have experienced physical or sexual violence?

Or that in some conflict zones, that rises to almost all women?

Or that 12 year olds are being forced to marry? Or that young teenagers are becoming mothers or dying in the process?

Angry because in 18 countries women still need permission from a man to have a job?

Angry that many who do work often take home less money for the same work?

And that millions of girls around the world, and 24,000 here in the UK are at risk from FGM?

Or maybe you are angry at how you have been treated in the past?

Some of you might be concerned. Concerned that as last year’s news brought from the World Economic Forum on gender pay gap report. That found that the gender gap is widening for the first time in decades.

Or maybe you are concerned that the Me Too movement is just restricted to the developed world?

Or maybe you are frustrated at all that talent and potential wasted?

The McKinsey Global Institute estimates that equality in the job market would yield add an extra £20 trillion to global GDP by 2025.

But what can’t be measured is the lost ideas, the dreams never realised, the businesses never built, the opportunities missed.

Maybe you are exasperated that we stand no chance of meeting any of the Global Goals unless we address gender equality.

Some of you might be hopeful, I know I am.

When we include women great things happen. When we negotiate peace treaties they are a one third more likely to work. When we serve in services or in the armed forces, these organisations become so much more effective.

Whatever your reasons for being here today, I think perhaps there is one motive which unites us all – and that is love.

Love of humanity, and our love of women around the world. A love of freedom, the freedom for every individual around the world to reach their full potential. And of faith, that every human being matters and that every human being can make a difference.

Whether they are aid workers, charity workers, trustees, governors, academics, teachers, doctors, soldiers, entrepreneurs, artists or mothers, I see love as the motivation for so many trying to make the world a better place.

And politicians too. In Parliaments, in peace councils, in village councils. And in Westminster too. Love.

Love is my lasting impression of Jo Cox. Jo and I sat on different sides of the house but we were frequent correspondents. We scribbled hand written notes to each other very frequently.

She was an opposition back bencher and I was Minister of State for the Armed Forces. But we were trying together to build a coalition across the house on Syria.

I treasure her letters.

She was angry, she was frustrated, she was hopeful. And she burned with a love, passion and empathy for those caught up in a brutal conflict.

And that love and her determination now echo in the work of her memorial fund.

I am pleased to help that work today by announcing £10 million of new funding in Jo’s memory.

Jo’s sister Kim will tell you more about social, economic and political empowerment work of the Jo Cox Memorial Fund.

And it is doing that by ensuring that women are leading that work, and making the decisions that impact their lives.

In addition, we will support the Jo Cox Memorial Fund in its work to strengthen civil society organisations, to prevent and protect civilians from mass atrocities.

As part of our new strategic vision, we are pledging £6 million over four years to the UN Data Programme, making every woman and girl count.

Through this we will be able to accurately understand the needs of women and girls, the challenges they face and monitor how much progress we are making.

We are also today announcing new support through UK Aid Match, to tackle violence against women and girls in Kenya. And we are launching a new shared approach across the UK Government to gender in Syria.

This will bring our existing commitment from tackling violence, to empowering women, to engage in the political process together. And mean that the British government places women and girls at the heart of our efforts to bring an end to conflict and bring forth a peace which includes everyone.

We are launching a new call to action today through our new plan. This is a call to action for everyone, recognising that we all need to take action in everything we do, if gender equality is to become a lasting reality.

If we succeed, girls, women, men and boys across the globe will be equal, empowered and safe.

And countries will enjoy prosperity, peace and stability.

We need to challenge and change unequal power relations between men and women. We need to build the interlinked foundations which will have a transformational impact for girls and women.

We need to protect and empower girls and women in conflict, protracted crises and humanitarian emergencies.

We must leave no girl or woman behind.

We need to integrate gender equality in all our work across the board, and track delivery through results on jobs, on trade, tax systems in the world economy, new technologies, modern slavery, climate change, nutrition, tackling AIDS, infrastructure and peace agreements.

We need to work across girls and women’s life cycles, on multiple areas simultaneously, with particular attention of adolescents.

We need to build evidence and disaggregate data. And we need to make that information publically available.

Today, we are doing a very untypical female thing. We are going to be asking for more.

Because without more we will fail the world.

Women’s empowerment, women’s rights, women’s talents and gifts are the entire margin of victory in the fight for prosperity, security and peace.

Without gender equality, we will never achieve any of the global goals.

A century ago, Emmeline Pankhurst said that “women have always fought for men and their children, but now they were prepared to fight for their own rights”.

Today, we must recognise they are the same thing. Without women’s rights, there are no human rights. Her potential is our future.

Whatever your motives, thank you for being here.

Penny Mordaunt – 2018 Speech on Somali

Below is the text of the speech made by Penny Mordaunt, the Secretary of State for International Development, on 6 March 2018.

I’m delighted to welcome you here today and in particular to His Excellency, Mr Gamal Hassan, the Minister of Planning, Investment and Economic Development of the Federal Republic of Somalia today and our other distinguished guests. I’d also like to thank Mark Lowcock for initiating this meeting, and for all the work his team has done with my officials to bring us all together today.

I am proud of the UK’s partnership with Somalia. This time last year, Somalia was on the brink of disaster and we realised that we had to step up. Together we have averted a famine and saved thousands of lives.

Last year’s response was an important success story, both for Somalia and for the international humanitarian system. But the job is not finished yet. The humanitarian situation remains a major cause for concern, and the famine risk remains high.

We need to sustain and build on our humanitarian response to ensure that we meet the most immediate and urgent needs. Alongside this, we also need to recognise the need for long-lasting solutions to break the cycle of this crisis. That is why we have called this meeting today.

My Department, and the UK Government, remain committed to working with the Somali authorities, local and international NGOs, UN agencies, and new partners who can help us reach the 5.4 million people in need of humanitarian assistance after some of the worst droughts on record.

In January I visited Mogadishu and saw first-hand the lifesaving work we are doing together, and I also announced £21 million in UK funding towards the 2018 humanitarian response.

Today, I’m pleased to confirm a further commitment, bringing our total contribution to £86 million. This includes £24.6 million from the UK Crisis Reserve, which helps us respond to emergency situations. I’m pleased to confirm that £46 million of this will be released before the end of this month, to ensure that funds are available to support early action and intervention. And I would like to thank all of you for your continued support to Somalia and encourage you to step up to the challenge in 2018 as we try and avert a potential famine.

I hope that this meeting will serve to encourage all of us to sustain our efforts to continue to tackle the drought, and ensure that the famine we helped to prevent last year does not happen again instead, to ensure that funds are available to support early action and intervention. I would like to thank everyone for your continued support.

I know that the spring rains will be critical in determining how severe the situation becomes this year. But even if the rains are good, humanitarian needs will still remain high. That is why I have asked my officials to keep me updated. As the year unfolds we will consider if additional UK resources are required.

As we join together to meet the challenges ahead, we must also ensure that we deliver against the Grand Bargain commitments that we all signed up to.

We must do better at including the most marginalised Somalis and ensuring that we protect the most vulnerable – women and girls and disabled people in particular. This means ensuring that aid is able to reach conflict-affected areas. And I call on the Somali authorities, and international partners, to do all they can to ensure that access for humanitarian aid is not restricted.

And we must also look forward and beyond the current situation. Drought need not turn into widespread food insecurity and famine. It is vitally important that we balance both the short and long term needs of vulnerable Somalis, and make sure there are stronger links between our humanitarian and development work so we can build resilience and the ability to cope with future shocks. As Somalia’s government makes progress in addressing insecurity, rebuilding its institutions, and creating economic opportunities for its citizens, we will be better placed to break this persistent cycle of crisis.

And having recently visited, I am optimistic about the future.

Long term solutions require stability and a real commitment from Somalia itself. We have seen that we can work together to stave off disaster. We are also seeing growing evidence that Somalia is heading towards a future where it can better take care of its own needs, including making good progress on its re-engagement with the IMF and the development banks and raising its own revenue.

This is why the UK government will continue to play an active role in supporting Somalia to meet all these objectives, including helping develop new ideas for economic recovery and continuing the progress being made towards re-engagement with the international financial system.

I wish you a very fruitful meeting today and I thank you again for your continued commitment to Somalia.