To ask Her Majesty’s Government what recent reports they have received from the Government of Nigeria regarding the situation in Jos.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead): As I said in the House on 30 March in response to the noble Baroness Cox of Queensbury, we condemn the recent violence near Jos (House of Lords, Official Report, 30 March 2010, col. 1287), which resulted in such terrible loss of life. I raised UK concerns with the then Foreign Minister Maduekwe on 20 January, and my honourable friend the Minister of State Ivan Lewis spoke to the Foreign Minister on 15 March. Our High Commission in Abuja remains in regular contact with the Nigerian Government at state and federal level on this issue. The situation on the ground has now stabilised, although a curfew remains in place in Jos between 2100 and 0600 hours.
The Department for International Development (DfID)’s representatives in Nigeria began discussions with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) on assistance to victims of conflict in Jos in mid-March 2010. Previously, DfID had provided £200,000 to ICRC for its overall work in Nigeria, which has helped to meet immediate needs. Decisions on any additional funding will be made on the basis of a needs assessment currently being carried out by the ICRC.
More broadly, our High Commission in Abuja and DfID will continue its programme of outreach and interfaith activity to promote dialogue between different communities to foster reconciliation and tolerance. We will also continue to press the Government of Nigeria on the importance of ensuring security for its citizens and protecting freedom of religion as enshrined in the Nigerian constitution, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We encourage all Commonwealth states to uphold the values of the Commonwealth, as reiterated at the last Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in 2009, with the issuing of the Trinidad and Tobago Affirmation on Commonwealth Values and Principles. We also maintain a close dialogue with Nigeria through the Commonwealth forum. For example during last year’s CHOGM I had productive discussions with Foreign Minister Maduekwe.