Mark Francois today attended the NGO-Military Contact Group Conference, hosted by the FCO in association with the British Red Cross.
The aim of the conference was to bring together Europe’s best civil-military thinkers, humanitarian practitioners and those that work in crisis response. The conference provided an insight into the complex humanitarian crises that are seen today, and provoked ideas on how to best improve crisis response.
Civil-military relations were increasingly in the spotlight in 2014. This was due to notable events such as the collective humanitarian response to Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. In response to this natural disaster, the military helped an estimated 50,000 people who had lost almost everything, an act which saw the proud crew of HMS Illustrious celebrated at The Sun Military Awards, the “Millies”, in December last year.
Other events of note in 2014 included the flooding that took place in the UK, the support provided by the military to the Ambulance and Fire services during public sector strikes and the current response to the Ebola epidemic in West Africa.
Speaking at the conference on why the UK Military gets involved in these responses, Minister for the Armed Forces, Mark Francois, said:
Our Armed Forces primary role will always be the defence of the 60 million people here at home but we have proved we can do more than just wage wars and defend freedom; we can help alleviate suffering too.
Time and again down the years we have put our weapons to one side, picked up our medical kit, loaded up our engineering equipment and deployed around the globe. We save lives and we’re good at it.