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Agricultural Exports

17. Mr. Luff: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment she has made of the impact on the economies of developing countries of subsidised agricultural exports from the European Union; and if she will make a statement. [69889]

Clare Short: The UK understands the damaging impact of subsidised agriculture exports on developing countries. We recognise that subsidised agriculture exports have a dampening effect on world prices and thus constrain agriculture investment and growth in developing countries. The UK is therefore pressing for substantial CAP reform under the current mid-term review, to reduce EU subsidies.


18. Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if she will make a statement on the development aid she is providing to Ethiopia. [69890]

Clare Short: We are building up a development partnership with Ethiopia which will support the Ethiopian Government's Poverty Reduction Strategy. We understand that the Government of Ethiopia hope to produce a final version of the strategy in the next few weeks. Excluding humanitarian support our initial aid framework for 2002/03 was £9 million. There are also additional funds for a three-year input to help tackle HIV/AIDS.

Current and planned support includes assistance in the road sector, water, food security including rural transportation, pastoralism and tax reform. We are currently developing a strategy for future years when the programme will expand. The strategy will address which sectors will be focus areas for DFID support. There will be full consultation during the strategy process. Initial discussions with the Ethiopian Government suggest that our focus should be on education, food security and capacity building across sectors. We shall continue to bear in mind political developments in Ethiopia while drawing up our plans.


19. Mr. Dalyell: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development pursuant to the oral answer of 26 June 2002, Official Report, column 866, on Afghanistan, what the result has been of the Under- Secretary of State's inquiries. [69891]

Clare Short: I refer my hon. Friend to the answer given on 16 July 2002, Official Report, column 258W.

20. Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if she will make a statement on humanitarian aid to Afghanistan. [69892]

Clare Short: Thanks to the efforts of the UN-led humanitarian system, with the support of the international community, a potential humanitarian catastrophe in Afghanistan after 11 September 2001 has been avoided. The achievements of recent months have led to an

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optimism that can be seen in the massive influx of returning refugees from neighbouring countries—over 1.25 million Afghan refugees have returned to their country since 1 March 2002. However, serious challenges remain. Chronic malnutrition, food shortages and socio-economic vulnerability are still alarmingly high. According to the UN, almost one third of the Afghan population is dependant on some form of emergency assistance. In many parts of the country these challenges are compounded by problems of access due to continuing insecurity, the presence of land mines and UXOs, and, in the later winter months, will be further complicated by heavy snows and extreme cold temperatures.

The United Nations estimates that donors must provide a further US$780 million in order to meet immediate requirements in Afghanistan up to December 2002; almost US$400 million of which is required to cover needs over the next three months. Support from the international community, under the guidance of the Afghan transitional administration (ATA), will be used to address the on-going humanitarian crisis, support the return of refugees to Afghanistan, develop a comprehensive analysis of and approach to vulnerability in Afghanistan, and support the transition of competence, ownership and technical capacity to the ATA to meet the immediate needs of its own people.

In addition to the £60 million that my Department disbursed from September 2001 to March 2002 under our humanitarian programme, we pledged at the Tokyo conference in January 2002 to commit a further £200 million over the next five years. This amount is already being allocated and disbursed. We are fully committed to helping to meet the immediate priorities of the ATA and are encouraging other donors to do likewise by maximising their contributions and speeding up the disbursement of promised assistance.

26. Joan Ruddock: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if she will make a statement on her Department's relief activities in northern Afghanistan. [69898]

Clare Short: My Department is supporting a range of humanitarian agencies working across Afghanistan, including in northern areas; these include UN humanitarian agencies, the Red Cross, and international and national non-governmental organisations (NGOs). We remain concerned about continuing insecurity in northern Afghanistan, including attacks against NGOs. We support. the actions of the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary General, Lakhdar Brahimi, who has written to President Karzai, and visited the north to impress upon the various factions the need for a secure environment. Other UN representatives have also visited insecure areas and received assurances from local leaders that measures are being put in place to control factional fighting and allow for the safe delivery of humanitarian and recovery assistance. We will continue to monitor the situation closely.

29. Mr. Swire: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how much of the aid money promised to Afghanistan has reached that country. [69901]

Clare Short: Precise data on the disbursement of aid to Afghanistan are not yet available. However, we estimate that donor pledges to Afghanistan amount to a

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little under $2 billion in 2002, of which about $1.1 billion has been committed and about $0.8 billion disbursed. The pace of further disbursements will now depend on improvements in security and access and on the completion of the national Development Framework and Development Budget.

The UK has disbursed over £60 million to Afghanistan since September 2002 and is in the process of completing a further round of disbursements to UN agencies, NGOs, quick impact projects and the Afghan Authority for the Co-ordination of Assistance.

Social Exclusion

21. Mr. Gordon Marsden: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assistance her Department is giving to programmes combating social exclusion of vulnerable groups in south eastern Europe. [69893]

Clare Short: We are working with governments, civil society and international organisations in the region to tackle this issue. Specifically: we are supporting two regional programmes on promotion of minority rights and rights and access to justice for Roma communities and a project in Bulgaria focused in reduction in social exclusion. In Romania we are assisting the Anti-Poverty Commission to develop a social exclusion policy.

We are funding projects in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Croatia, Serbia, Romania and Bulgaria to assist with the reform of social policy, focused on more effective social services, social welfare and employment systems, including improved cooperation between government and civil society. These will, in part, address the situation of socially-excluded groups. These projects are mostly linked to World bank structural adjustment credits.

We are supporting poverty surveys in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Albania to assist the authorities in identifying the features of poverty and monitoring measures to address it.

We have provided grants totalling £8.4 million to the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia for family welfare payments targeted at the poorest section of the population.

We have assisted with the preparation of a Poverty Reduction Strategy for Albania, and are supporting their preparation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia and Serbia.

We are working with the World bank to support social mitigation programmes in Romania (targeted at ex-mining communities) and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Also in Romania we are assisting the Social Development Fund.

In Romania and Bulgaria we are supporting child welfare and protection projects.

In Albania we are funding a programme of support to rural livelihoods, targeted at the poorer, mountainous regions.

Sexual and Reproductive Health

22. Richard Ottaway: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if she will make a statement on UK funding to international sexual and reproductive health organisations. [69894]

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Clare Short: My Department supports a number of international sexual and reproductive health organisations which share our aim of eliminating poverty including United Nations agencies and non-governmental organisations. We believe that the goal of the international conference on population and development of universal access to reproductive health is central to attainment of the health Millennium Development Goals, specifically those related to maternal mortality, HIV/AIDS and child mortality. Without access to high quality reproductive health services and care, it is most unlikely that progress will be achieved in meeting the health MDGs. We will continue to support international organisations which make an effective contribution to these goals, and of course the efforts of governments seeking to improve people's access to reproductive health services.

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