Baroness Cox receives answers to her Written Questions on Syria Overseas Aid

3 January 2018

Baroness Cox (Crossbench) recently posed two questions to the Government about Syria Overseas Aid, and received written answers from Lord Bates (Conservative Minister of State, Department for International Development) and Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (Conservative Minister of State)

 Question 1: 14th December 2017

Baroness Cox: To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Bates on 23 October (HL1710), which 16 Syrian councils have received funds; whether any of those councils are in areas controlled by extremist groups including Hayat Tahrir Ash Sham and Ahrar Ash Sham; what assessment they have made of whether those funds might be exploited by such groups; and whether they intend to suspend all such financial support.

Answer 1: 27th December 2017

Lord Bates: The DFID Strengthening Governance Structures programme, Tatweer, is currently supporting thirteen Syrian councils in Aleppo, Idlib, Rif Damascus and Dera’a Governorates. Three further councils have received support through Tatweer, but this is currently suspended. For security reasons and for the protection of staff DFID does not disclose which councils have received funding.

DFID continuously assesses partners and has extensive controls in place to ensure money is used for its intended purpose and does not benefit extremist groups. Tatweer has field staff embedded within communities monitoring the ongoing conflict and the influence of extremist groups on local governance structures. Tatweer is clear with communities and local council members that any influence from extremist groups on councils will not be tolerated.

DFID has suspended financial support to two local councils in Idlib where Hayat Tahrir Ash Sham has sought to influence or control councils. We have also suspended supported to a council in Dera’a due to intense fighting. No financial support was diverted in either case. Assistance is monitored continuously and the UK Government will withdraw support if there is reason to believe UK funding may be at risk.

Hansard Source: Syria: Overseas Aid:Written question – HL4197

Question 2: 14th December 2017

Baroness Cox: To ask Her Majesty’s Government, following the suspension of their financial support to the Free Syrian Police, what assessment they have made of the use of funds provided to the armed Syrian opposition; whether those funds are supporting the administration of areas controlled by extremist groups including Hayat Tahrir Ash Sham and Ahrar Ash Sham; and if so, whether they will suspend all such financial support.

Answer 2: 29th December 2017

Lord Ahmad: In partnership with other donor countries, Her Majesty’s Government provides a range of support to Syrians to help save lives, bolster civil society, counter extremism, promote human rights and accountability, and lay the foundations for a more peaceful future. This financial year, we have allocated over £60 million through the Conflict, Stability and Security Fund (CSSF). Of this £10 million has gone to armed opposition groups, in the form of non-lethal assistance and lifesaving support, helping them protect civilians from the threats of both the Assad regime and extremists. This support to armed groups has not been delivered in areas controlled by extremist groups and is not supporting the administration of such areas.

Hansard Source: Syria: Overseas Aid:Written question – HL4196

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