some default text...
Previous Section Index Home Page


INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT

Burma

Dr. Tonge: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what action her Department is taking to support non-Burman ethnic groups in Burma. [22447]

Clare Short: British and European Community (EC) assistance in Burma is provided for a wide variety of humanitarian needs including the needs of refugees. DFID also provides funding for HIV/AIDS interventions. We are currently increasing our funding through selected INGOs and UN agencies to assist the most needy in Burma.

The total UK humanitarian assistance provided to Burma in 2000–01 was £0.8 million. We have committed up to £2 million for humanitarian purposes for 2001–02. This includes funding for the needs of refugees/returnees and the war-affected, including ethnic minorities in the Thailand border areas. Last year we spent £0.2 million on HIV/AIDS; our commitment for this financial year is £1.6 million.

Assistance provided to Burma through ECHO for the calendar year 2000 was euro 2 million or approximately £1.3 million (the same amount has been allocated for 2001). Assistance is delivered through European NGOs and focuses on health including HIV/AIDS, water and sanitation. Some assistance is provided to Burmese refugees in Thailand and for the protection of detainees in prison. The UK EC attribution for 2001 is 19 per cent.

Afghanistan

Ms Shipley: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what estimate she has made of the number of Afghan children in danger of dying this winter; and what steps she has taken to provide assistance. [23043]

Clare Short: Afghanistan has one of the worst infant mortality rates in the world with one in four children dying before the age of five. Every effort is being made to minimise the suffering of all vulnerable Afghans, including children. Humanitarian agencies, particularly the World Food Programme (WFP) and UNICEF, continue to make good progress in transporting essential relief supplies to Afghanistan. However, some areas of Afghanistan are proving difficult to access because of continuing insecurity.

My Department has so far allocated £7 million to UNICEF and other aid agencies to support their activities in the region, which are specifically focused on children.

Dr. Tonge: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment her Department has made of the security situation in Afghanistan and its effect on the delivery of humanitarian aid. [22686]

18 Dec 2001 : Column: 187W

Clare Short: United Nations agencies, particularly the World Food Programme (WFP) and UNICEF, the Red Cross movement and NGOs continue to make good progress in transporting essential relief supplies into Afghanistan. Over the past month, WFP has delivered over 68,000 tonnes of food, exceeding its monthly target. International staff of humanitarian agencies have now returned to some areas of the country and are working with national staff to reach those in need of assistance. However, progress is heavily dependent on improved security. Some areas of Afghanistan are still proving difficult to access because of continuing insecurity.

Dr. Tonge: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if she will make a statement on the (a) protection and (b) assistance her Department is providing for Afghan refugees. [22688]

Clare Short: My Department is in regular contact with UNHCR at both field and headquarters level to try to ensure that resources are used effectively for the provision of assistance to Afghan refugees and the protection of their rights. We continue to do all we can to ensure that Afghan refugees are properly cared for and give neighbouring countries the necessary support to cope with the burden of refugees, for whom they have provided over a long period.

We have committed £3 million to UNHCR's operations for refugees in response to the current crisis. This has included technical personnel, material and financial support. At the request of UNHCR, my Department has provided three relief flights to Iran and Pakistan transporting tents, shelter material and communications equipment. We have also provided a specialist site planner to UNHCR in Pakistan to assist with the setting up of new refugee campsites. In addition we are supporting a number of NGOs assisting refugees, including Christian Aid, Islamic Relief, Oxfam, and Save the Children.

We have also provided £11 million to support communities in Pakistan most affected by influxes of refugees.

Dr. Tonge: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment she has made of the outcome of the Reconstruction Afghanistan Conference in Islamabad; and if she will make a statement on the future of Afghanistan. [22687]

Clare Short: The recent 'Conference on Preparing for Afghanistan's Reconstruction' was attended by over 350 people including a large number of Afghans, as well as officials from my Department.

The conference highlighted the need for security and stability to underpin reconstruction. We are fully committed to supporting Ambassador Brahimi and the United Nations system in their central role to help the people of Afghanistan and the new Interim Authority. A copy of our updated "Emergency Plan to Initiate Recovery" has been placed in the House Library. Further details of the conference can be found at www.reliefweb.int.

Staff Numbers

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how many people were employed in her Department in each of the last four years. [23798]

18 Dec 2001 : Column: 188W

Clare Short: The numbers of staff employed by DFID in each of the last four years were as follows:

YearNumber
1997–981,007
1998–991,095
1999–20001,280
2000–011,313

These figures do not include staff employed on contract terms in the UK and overseas.

Child Soldiers

Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development which countries that allow child soldiers to be used in conflict within their countries receive financial assistance from the UK for aid projects. [22971]

Clare Short: It is difficult to say which countries "allow" the use of soldiers. Where non-state actors use children in armed conflict, this is usually in opposition to the Government of that country. Other countries may state that they do not use children, yet there are reports of children being used.

The UK provides development assistance to countries that are committed to poverty reduction and who will use our assistance effectively. The protection of children caught up in armed conflict is an important aspect of our development assistance programmes, which can include, among other things, working with Governments to improve their human rights record. DFID is contributing, over a three-year period, £3 million to UNICEF to build its capacity to implement programmes which will prevent children becoming involved in, or otherwise being affected by, conflict, and £3 million to the UN Secretary General's Special Representative for Children to support his work in reducing the impact of conflict on children, including the involvement of children in armed conflict. The work of these two institutions spans a wide range of countries in Africa, Asia and Europe.

We also encourage the ratification of important international instruments such as the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child covering the involvement of children in armed conflict.

Street Children

Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if she will list the countries with which her Department works on the issue of street children. [22974]

Clare Short: I refer my hon. Friend to the answer I gave on 4 July 2001, Official Report, column 214W.

Children (Welfare and Protection)

Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what recent discussions her Department has had with the Council of Europe to develop joint policies for the welfare and protection of children. [22973]

18 Dec 2001 : Column: 189W

Clare Short: My Department has not had any recent discussions with the Council of Europe on child protection.

Sri Lanka

Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what financial assistance has been given by her Department to Sri Lanka in each of the last two years; for what projects; and where in Sri Lanka they were. [22975]

Clare Short: Full details of DFID's programme are contained in the table.

18 Dec 2001 : Column: 190W


18 Dec 2001 : Column: 191W

DFID's bilateral programme in Sri Lanka is increasingly focused on the relationship between poverty and conflict. The objectives of the programme are to: improve livelihood security of the poor in conflict areas; explore processes for intercommunual reconciliation; and improve the quality of education, particularly at primary level.

18 Dec 2001 : Column: 192W


Next Section Index Home Page