Nazanin-Zaghari Ratcliffe and Anoosheh Ashooritha
I want to reassure everyone who has written in about Nazanin-Zaghari Ratcliffe and Anoosheh Ashoorithat the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office continues to work hard to assist British nationals detained in Iran. My thoughts are with Nazanin and Anoosheh, and their families. Like you, I want to see them both released immediately.
I am told that the UK Embassy in Tehran continues to request consular access to Mr Ashoori and has been supporting his family. The UK regularly calls on Iran to release all British-Iranian nationals arbitrarily detained, including Mr Ashoori.
I recognise that Nazanin’s ongoing furlough does not represent the final objective of securing Nazanin’s permanent release and I have been assured that the UK's lobbying efforts remain focussed on getting Nazanin home. It is appalling that Iran began a new case against Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe, and threatened her with being returned to prison, and I am relieved that the groundless new trial was adjourned. The Iranian authorities have put an intolerable burden on Nazanin and her family. It is vital that Iran knows the strength of the UK's convictions regarding this, and so it is encouraging that on 29 October, the Iranian Ambassador was summoned to the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office. It was made clear to the Iranian ambassador that his country’s treatment of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe is unjustified and unacceptable, and is causing an enormous amount of distress. Iran is further tarnishing its reputation through its actions towards Nazanin.
The UK continues to call on Iran to live up to its responsibilities under international human rights law and the Vienna convention and release dual nationals. Cases continue to be raised at the most senior levels, and discussed at every opportunity with Iranian counterparts.
I too think that Parliament must be given a new opportunity to debate dual nationals imprisoned in Iran and will be happy to raise this with colleagues and explore avenues to secure a debate.
UNICEF - Future at Risk report
UNICEF's recently published 'Future at Risk' rightly identifies that the pandemic is exerting severe pressure on essential and life-saving health services in many, particularly poor, countries around the world, which threatens to increase levels of maternal and child mortality. Unless decisive action is taken now, past progress towards this goal is at risk.
The UK has been at the forefront of global health agendas for decades, with an exceptional aid track record and I am confident that current and future development efforts will continue to honour this reputation. In 2020 the UK pledged a total of £166million dedicated to tackling food insecurity and to provide aid to more than 7 million vulnerable people in some of the world’s most dangerous places.
I wholeheartedly agree with the report’s recommendation that the UK should aim to lead global efforts to build resilient health systems. I welcome Prime Minister’s five-point plan to strengthen health systems against global health crises, and committed to putting girls' education and empowerment, including reproductive health, on the global agenda as part of our Presidency of the G7 this year.
Ministers have been clear that the UK’s plan to ending preventable deaths of mothers, newborns and children is part of the government's Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy, due to be published this year. I will be following this issue closely.