MPs examine the UK's Development Work in the Middle East

12 December 2013

With the exception of the OPTs and Yemen, the Middle East has not traditionally been a focus for the UK’s aid spending: DFID has concentrated its resources on the poorer countries of Africa and South Asia. But it is now spending substantial funds in the Middle East region. In this inquiry we focus on Syria and the neighbouring countries, as well as the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPTs).

The Syrian Civil War has developed into the most serious refugee crisis since the Rwandan genocide in 1994. The UK has a £500 million fund in response to the crisis. As of November 2013 £245.9 million has already been disbursed or allocated to UN organisations, with a further £87.8 million disbursed or allocated to NGOs and other humanitarian agencies. Allocations of a further £166.2 million were being finalised.  The crisis has led to large refugee flows into neighbouring countries including Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt. Within the overall allocations the UK has pledged £66 million of support for refugees in Lebanon and £87.2 million in Jordan.

The crisis has also had a major impact on the Palestinian refugees in Syria. Over half of the Palestinian refugees in Syria have been displaced, including 235,000 who remain inside Syria, 47,000 who have fled to Lebanon and 9,000 who have fled to Jordan. The UK is providing £15.5 million to UNRWA to support Palestinian refugees affected by the crisis.

DFID’s bilateral programme in the OPTs

DFID also has a large bilateral programme in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPTs), including the provision of direct financial assistance to the Palestinian Authority. It plans to spend £94 million through this programme in 2013-14, of which £31.0m will be spent on education. Other major areas of focus are poverty, hunger & vulnerability (£28.5m), governance (£21.4m), health (£11.7m) and wealth creation (£3.1m).

Other DFID and UK funding in the region

DFID is also funding projects in a number of countries in the region. The cross-departmental Conflict Pool is also active in the region. This brings together the three departments traditionally involved in conflict prevention work (FCO, DFID and MoD), and funds conflict prevention, stabilisation and peacekeeping activities. The UK is also funding parliamentary strengthening work in the region.

Our inquiry
The International Development Committee has decided to undertake an inquiry into DFID’s work in the Middle East, and invites written submissions on the following issues:

  • The UK’s humanitarian response to the Syrian Civil War, specifically:
    o Whether DFID is working with the right organisations (UN organisations and NGOs), and whether these organisations are effective;
    o The challenges faced by UN organisations and NGOs in gaining access to affected areas, and the implications of this for their work;
    o Whether the UK will be able to continue providing support indefinitely, if the humanitarian crisis continues;
    o What the UK can do to encourage other donors to provide more support;
  • DFID’s programme in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, specifically:
    o The effectiveness of DFID’s programme in the Occupied Palestinian Territories;
    o Whether DFID is focusing on the right sectors and working with the right organisations;
    o Whether DFID’s funding to the Palestinian Authority aids the twin goals of state building and achieving a negotiated peace;
    o Whether DFID should consider funding projects involving Israeli-Palestinian joint working, and/or working with MASHAV, the Israeli development agency.
  • Other UK spending in the region:
    o The effectiveness of expenditure through the Conflict Pool, and whether it is being administered efficiently;
    o The effectiveness of the UK’s support for parliamentary strengthening efforts, e.g. in Jordan and Lebanon.

The Committee invites written submissions from interested organisations and individuals. The deadline for this is Monday 13 January 2014.  The Committee will consider requests for reasonable adjustments to its usual arrangements for taking evidence and publishing material, to enhance access. Please contact or telephone 020 7219 1221.

Please note
As part of a scheme to encourage paperless working and maximize efficiency, the Committee is piloting a new web portal for online submissions of written evidence. Written submissions for this inquiry should therefore be sent via the Middle East inquiry page.

Written evidence submitted should:

Have a one page summary at the front
Be no longer than 3000 words in length
Have numbered paragraphs
Avoid the use of colour or expensive-to-print material

Guidance on submitting written evidence and data protection information is available Guidance on submitting written evidence

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Further information

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