Previous Section Index Home Page


Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development (1) what her Department is doing to support research and development into new drugs to combat African trypanosomiasis; [25260]

Hilary Benn: The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that "sleeping sickness" or trypanosomiasis occurs in 36 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, with 300,000 new cases annually, but poor data and diagnosis make it difficult to estimate the full extent of the problem. Recently there have been epidemic outbreaks in central and eastern Africa, especially in countries experiencing civil war and social upheaval.

We are committed to improving the health of poor people in developing countries, including by improving access to essential drugs and vaccines to combat the diseases that most affect them. Part of this commitment is to make safe and effective essential drugs available at an affordable price. We look to WHO to help raise the awareness of this issue and to ensure that this is achieved through international collaborative efforts. We provide significant resources to WHO to support this work.

9 Jan 2002 : Column: 842W

WHO is currently working with Medecins Sans Frontieres and pharmaceutical manufacturers to ensure drug supplies for the treatment of sleeping sickness free of charge for the next five years. it will also increase surveillance teams and undertake research on better treatment regimens. We, along with other donors are working in partnership with the pharmaceutical industry and research organisations to support the development of new drugs. The Gates Foundation is currently funding the development and trials of a promising new drug for treatment.

We also recognise the need to ensure that existing drugs are available, particularly to the poorest. This requires strengthening systems of delivery for quality assured drugs. We work with countries in improving systems to procure and distribute drugs, manage drug supplies and encourage appropriate drug use.

Refugee Camps (Pakistan)

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if she will make a statement on (a) the provision of aid to and (b) the standards in refugee camps in Pakistan. [25273]

Hilary Benn: In addition to those who have moved into Pakistan from Afghanistan since 11 September, Pakistan has been shouldering the burden of some 2 million refugees from Afghanistan for many years. Over the last 20 years, these refugees have been hosted in camps in Pakistan or absorbed into local communities. The majority of the camps in Pakistan pre-date the agreement of the international Sphere standards.

The international community is giving Pakistan all possible support in coping with this burden and making progress towards improving standards in camps, including ensuring that all refugees are properly cared for.

So far DFID has committed £3 million to UNHCR's operations, in response to the current crisis, to support its operations for refugees. This has included technical personnel, material and financial support. At the request of UNHCR, we have 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 camp sites. In addition we have provided £6 million to NGOs, much of which has been directed towards Afghans in neighbouring countries, including Pakistan, and £11 million to support communities in Pakistan most affected by the influx of refugees.


Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if she will make a statement on food distribution in Afghanistan. [25271]

Hilary Benn: The World Food Programme (WFP) continues to make good progress in transporting food aid to Afghanistan. It delivered a record 116,000 metric tonnes of food during the month of December alone, using a network of some 2,000 trucks, as well as air and barge operations. It is working to keep routes open over the winter using all-weather vehicles and specialised snow teams.

9 Jan 2002 : Column: 843W

As part of its operations, WFP is also targeting vulnerable people in urban centres. Last month, some 1.3 million people received food rations in Kabul. Food aid will be distributed to a further 0.25 million people in Herat this week. There are, however still pockets of insecurity where access is difficult, particularly in the south and east, around Kandahar and Jalalabad.

Displaced People (Tora Bora)

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment she has made of the number of displaced people in Tora Bora region; and what assistance is being provided to those people. [25272]

Hilary Benn: Continuing insecurity in the Tora Bora area means that it is difficult to provide accurate figures. However, UN agencies and NGOs estimate that between 1,000 and 2,000 families have moved from the area to stay with relatives in neighbouring districts, including Jalalabad city.

United Nations agencies, the Red Cross and NGOs are providing the displaced in those districts with food, shelter and other essential supplies.


Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development (1) what proportion of her Department's (a) bilateral and (b) multilateral spending in the Palestinian territories goes towards furthering peace and security in the region; [25270]

Hilary Benn: In the current financial year we expect to spend about £14 million bilaterally to support development in the Palestinian territories. Our multilateral contributions comprise: £25 million in 2001 to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA); 5 per cent. of the World Bank's resources (about £13 million since 1994); and 17 per cent. (about £30 million in 2001) of the European Commission's development budget which includes our share of the EC contribution to UNRWA. All these efforts are designed to contribute towards peace and security in the region by helping to build capacity in the Palestinian Authority, and meeting the basic needs of the local people.

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if she will list the (a) charities and (b) NGOs she funds which work in the Palestinian territories. [25268]

9 Jan 2002 : Column: 844W

Hilary Benn: It is not possible to distinguish precisely between NGOs and charities. We currently fund development projects with the following organisations:

Transnational Crimes

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assistance her Department is providing to developing countries wishing to (a) ratify and (b) implement the UN convention against organised trans-national crimes. [25264]

Hilary Benn: We are working with the international community and governments in many countries to address the poverty caused by weaknesses in the areas covered by the convention. We give support to: international measures against the trafficking of women and children, for example, assistance and training for withdrawing them from such exploitation and reintegrating those affected into the community; strengthening legislative measures against corruption; improving controls against money laundering (including regional and international collaborative mechanisms); developing mechanisms for asset seizure and recovery (including international co-operation); assisting countries in accessing mutual legal assistance from the UK; and helping to build capacity in enforcement authorities (in particular, the judiciary, the police and customs services).


Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assistance her Department provides to displaced people in the Tigray region of northern Ethiopia. [25267]

9 Jan 2002 : Column: 845W

Hilary Benn: Since March 2001 we have committed £6 million to the International Committee of the Red Cross for their operations in Ethiopia. This support includes assistance to internally displaced persons in Tigray.

Next Section Index Home Page