Palestinians: Visa Scheme — [Martin Vickers in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall am 6:36 pm ar 13 Mai 2024.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of John Martin McDonnell John Martin McDonnell Llafur, Hayes and Harlington 6:36, 13 Mai 2024

I will follow up what my hon. Friend Yasmin Qureshi said with regard to the evacuation of children, but I first echo what others have said: there has been absolute unanimity in this Chamber, across all political parties as well, with representatives present from each of the parties. I have not seen that in this Chamber, possibly ever. The Government need to recognise that, and that it is born of—to be honest—accumulating concern, anger and distress about what we have experienced.

Some months ago, when the initial proposal came up, many were conflicted about whether it should be supported. They were conflicted in the Palestinian community as well, because people did not want to be seen to be complicit with what was—exactly as my hon. Friend the Member for Bolton South East said—a second Nakba. At that stage, many Palestinians remained within Gaza, because they thought that it would be a limited action. They thought—all of us thought, naively—that the world would not stand by and watch this take place on that scale; a Nakba. I do not think that anyone calculated the level of killings that were to take place, and no one had any understanding of the scale of the deaths among children in particular.

That is why I think there was that sort of conflation, or a real contradiction in people’s minds about whether to go forward. Interestingly, as time has moved on and as the situation has got so desperate—we have heard the stories today—people are desperate to do anything to help and to save life. The obvious solution to this is peace, a ceasefire. The obvious solution is that this Government, along with others, tell the mass murderer—at the moment, that is the Prime Minister of Israel—to halt the attack on Gaza. That is not forthcoming, so the least that the Government can do is to allow people to gain access to security.

Some Palestinians have gained access to security, some in hotels in our constituencies, but they have not gone through the route allowed by the Government; they have come on the boats across the channel. Here is the irony: they are now part of the categories that will be targeted for Rwanda. There is an inhumanity about the way the Palestinians have been treated—not just by the Israelis, but by the Government as well. There is an opportunity now for the Government to do something that is effective in providing relief, comfort, succour and security to those desperate people.

Some months ago I raised the question of the evacuation of injured children with the Deputy Foreign Secretary. Voluntary organisations here and in Europe were willing to work together to secure access to health facilities for the most injured—not just in Egypt, but in Europe and Britain. We were assured that a group was being formed, co-ordinated by the FCDO, to enable the evacuation to happen. My understanding is that that has not happened on any scale yet, and today we discovered that the health service in Rafah has virtually collapsed because of the lack of fuel.

There were two hospitals operating yesterday; I believe there is only one today. The bombs are still dropping. The children are still being killed and mutilated, yet we provide no assistance to allow those children access to health facilities beyond Gaza itself. The least the Government could do is ensure that there is an effective evacuation scheme for injured children, and have a scheme, as has been set out today, to enable people to gain at least some access to security.

I do not know how much more we can take from the Government. Our constituents feel stressed and angry about the inaction of the Government and by their complicity in supplying arms to the butchers who maim the children. I ask the Minister to listen to what has been said today on a cross-party basis, listen to the individual cases, recognise the suffering that is going on and, for God’s sake, in the name of humanity, introduce a scheme that gives some comfort, succour and safety to those desperate people.