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David Winnick: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if, in liberated parts of Afghanistan, she will take steps to arrange for children

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who are seriously injured as a result of the fighting to receive medical treatment where this has not so far been available. [15618]

Clare Short: My Department is currently supporting a number of agencies including Save the Children, UNICEF and the Red Cross Movement, which provide health services for children throughout Afghanistan. I have recently announced further financial contributions to both UNICEF and the Red Cross, which will also include support for health services that benefit children.

We anticipate that the advances made by the Northern Alliance in recent days will improve access and enable more effective delivery of humanitarian assistance.

Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development when she will publish a detailed humanitarian aid strategy document for Afghanistan. [13988]

Clare Short: We have no plans to publish a humanitarian aid strategy document for Afghanistan. Thrice weekly updates on the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan are published by my Department and held in the Library of the House. A further paper, "Afghanistan Recovery: An Emergency Plan for the First 100 Days", is also available in the Library of the House.

Mr. John Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if she will make a statement on the Government's commitment to provide humanitarian aid to the people of Afghanistan; and how services by road will be sustained. [13865]

Clare Short: The UK Government have fully committed to doing all they can to help relieve the suffering of the people of Afghanistan. My Department has set aside £40 million to respond to the current crisis affecting Afghans. In line with the objectives of the international community, our top priorities are to: help meet immediate life saving needs within Afghanistan; support refugee needs in neighbouring countries; help host populations in neighbouring countries through programmes which benefit them; and strengthen international humanitarian agency capacity and co-ordination. Funds are being channelled through UN agencies, the Red Cross and non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

UN agencies, particularly the World Food Programme (WFO), continue to make good and steady progress in the delivery of humanitarian assistance into Afghanistan. New land convoy routes into Afghanistan are opening up, and the volume of relief supplies entering the country has increased over recent weeks as a result. With our support, WFP and the Russian Ministry for Emergencies (EMERCOM) have begun a joint operation to transport 9,000 metric tonnes of food from Tajikistan to northern Afghanistan.

Some mountainous areas of Afghanistan may become cut off by snow during the winter months. WFP are in the process of procuring snowploughs and other equipment to support their trucking operations in these regions. They have already begun snow clearance in the Anjuman Pass—the main north-east route into the Panjsheer Valley. As a last resort, WFP are also looking at the possibility of airdropping food to vulnerable people living in snowbound areas of Afghanistan.

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The changing situation on the ground opens up new opportunities for us to improve humanitarian programmes and give better access to some of the most vulnerable people. Plans are now being made for the international staff of humanitarian agencies to return to parts of Afghanistan as soon as possible. Those agencies should now be able to accelerate deliveries so that winter stockpiles can be built closer to people who need them. However, such progress is dependant on improved security.

Parliamentary Questions

Mr. Burns: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development (1) how many named day parliamentary written questions were tabled to her Department between 15 October and 5 November; and what proportion of these have received holding answers; [13305]

Clare Short: We received 21 parliamentary questions for named day answer between 15 October and 6 November of which seven were answered without sending a holding reply. Ten received substantive answers within three days and four within seven days. No named day question took longer than seven days to answer.

Departmental Publications

Pete Wishart: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what were the total (a) publication and (b) advertising costs for the Department in each of the past four years. [15692]

Clare Short: Expenditure in relation to publications in the years in question is as follows:


We have adopted a policy of openness and now publish policy documents that were previously kept secret.

We do not hold a separate advertising budget. However, the bulk of our advertising is in relation to recruitment, on which we spend around £1-£1.2 million per year.

Development and Co-operation Council

Mr. Connarty: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what the outcome was of the Development and Co-operation Council held in Brussels on 8 November; what the Government's stance was on each issue discussed, including its voting record; and if she will make a statement. [14396]

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Clare Short: At its meeting on 8 November, the Development Council, by consensus:

Military Planners

Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development (1) what contact her Department has had with military planners at US Central Command in Tampa, Florida, to enhance humanitarian aid efforts in Afghanistan; [13987]

Clare Short: Good civil/military liaison is essential to the effectiveness of the humanitarian effort.

Civil/military specialists from my Department have been deployed to CENTCOM and to Islamabad to liaise with the coalition military and United Nations humanitarian staff.

Freedom of Information Act

Matthew Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development on what date her Department established a working group of officials to prepare her Department for the implementation of the Freedom of Information Act 2000; and on what dates this committee has met since it was set up. [14773]

Clare Short: DFID's Knowledge and Communications Committee oversees preparations for the implementation of the Freedom of Information Act 2000. The committee considered freedom of information issues at its meetings in July and November of this year.

"Trade Matters"

Pete Wishart: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what was the cost of

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producing the Departmental publication, "Trade Matters, Eliminating World Poverty, Information Pack"; and how many were produced. [15691]

Clare Short: The cost of producing the "Trade Matters" information pack, which included an introductory booklet and 12 briefing papers, was around £48,000.

The quantities produced were as follows:

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