UK Support for Humanitarian Relief in the Middle East - International Development Committee Contents

1  Introduction

1. The UK's development assistance programmes have traditionally prioritised sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia rather than the Middle East.[1] In recent years, the Syrian Civil War and consequent humanitarian crisis have led to a significant increase in DFID activity in the region.[2] The UK has committed £600 million in humanitarian assistance since the crisis began.[3] Scrutinising the UK's work on the Syria crisis was in our view imperative, on account of the scale of the humanitarian needs.

Our inquiry

2. We launched our inquiry in December 2013. We set out to examine both the UK's humanitarian response to the Syria crisis, and DFID's bilateral programme in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPTs.) This report deals with the Syria crisis; we will publish a separate report on DFID's work in the OPTs.

3. In Chapter 2 we examine the humanitarian situation inside Syria and the UK's response; in Chapter 3 we do the same for neighbouring countries such as Lebanon and Jordan. Chapter 4 then compares the UK's response with that of other international donors.

4. We received 61 pieces of written evidence from a wide range of individuals and organisations including academics, UN organisations and NGOs. We also held three oral evidence sessions. Those giving evidence on the Syria crisis included Rt Hon Alan Duncan MP, the Minister of State for International Development; and representatives of the World Food Programme (WFP), the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the UN Development Programme (UNDP). A full list of witnesses is included at the back of this report. We also visited the region during March 2014, gathering evidence both for this report and for our forthcoming report on the OPTs. We visited projects throughout the region and met a range of Ministers, NGOs and DFID staff: this was invaluable to our understanding of the region. Finally, we are grateful to Eva Svoboda of the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) for serving as our Specialist Adviser in this inquiry.

1   DFID, Annual Report and Accounts 2011-12 (June 2012), pp. 199-201 Back

2   DFID, Annual Report and Accounts 2012-13 (June 2013), p 224 Back

3   DFID, UK Aid Syria Response (June 2014), p 1 Back

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Prepared 2 July 2014