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20 Nov 2002 : Column 195Wcontinued
Mr. Wray: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if she will make a statement on co-operation with charities and donor agencies; what recent progress has been made; and what proposals she has for further co-operation. 
Clare Short: My Department enjoys close relations with both charities (NGOs) and the wider donor community. The production of our first White Paper in 1997 laid the foundations for unprecedented inclusion of NGOs in policy and strategy consultation. Development charities have been helpful in enabling my Department to produce policy papers on issues such as the rights of the disabled, inclusion of the elderly in the development process and access to clean water.
Consultation with NGO community lead to changes in the way my Department supported UK civil society. This included the replacement of our main funding channels for NGOs (the Joint Funding Scheme and block grants) by the Civil Society Challenge Fund (CSCF) and Partnership Programme Agreements (PPA). Under our CSCF we currently fund over 200 individual projects with around 80 UK civil society organisations at an annual cost in excess of #10 million.
We currently have PPAs with 15 major UK development NGOs and propose a further round of negotiations next year. PPAs are strategic level engagements, which provide a framework for constructive dialogue and sharing of ideas on major development issues.
My Department has regular engagement with other bilateral donors, where policies and views can be openly shared and regular DFID representation at the EC NGO co-financing meetings in Brussels where our interests as well as NGO's concerns can be raised and discussed.
We have began a series of discussions with our counterparts at the Community Fund and Comic Relief in order to exchange information and ideas and hope to strengthen these links further through joint evaluations of co-funded projects.
We are currently in the process of formalising a Strategic Funding Agreement with the main umbrella organisation representing the British NGOs working in development (BOND). This agreement further strengthens co-operation and mutual understanding between my Department and the NGO community.
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Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what discussions her Department has had with the Government of the Democratic Republic of Congo concerning sexual crimes being committed against women by the armies; and what pressure her Department is putting on the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo to investigate such crimes and bring perpetrators to justice. 
Clare Short: My Department is extremely concerned about the situation in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and the unacceptably high levels of violent crimes, including rape, committed against women. We maintain links with a number of human rights organisations including Human Rights Watch and local rights organisations based in eastern DRC, which are involved in the monitoring, and provision of support, to women victims of crime. The high rates of rape and sexual violence have mostly occurred in areas that are not under Government control where militias are operating and disorder is widespread.
Through our embassies in Kinshasa and Kigali, and through direct contact with local authorities when visiting the east, the UK Government have discussed the issue of rape, and the urgent need to address issues of justice, with representatives from all sides with whom we have contact. We do not have contact with the ex-Far and Interahamwe and local Mai Mai groups. We also support a number of civil society organisations that are working in eastern DRC to monitor and raise rights abuses with authorities, as well as providing some limited support to women victims.
Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what recent assessment her Department has made of the humanitarian situation in Eritrea; and how much money her Department is giving to help the people of Eritrea. 
Clare Short: We are being kept informed by reports from our embassy in Eritrea and propose to send out one of our humanitarian advisers in the next month on an assessment mission. We understand that the Eritrea Consolidated Appeal is due to be launched on 19 November, which should include information on failed rains and forthcoming food shortages. In total we have given #1,350,000 to the International Committee of the Red Cross' 2002 Appeal for Eritrea. In addition, through our Small Grants Scheme, we have disbursed some funds to health centres run by the Catholic Church to buy food supplements for malnourished children under five, pregnant women and lactating mothers.
Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what recent discussions her Department has had with (a) the Government of Eritrea, (b) the Eritrean Relief and Refugee Committee and (c) the UN over the humanitarian situation in Eritrea. 
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conversations with him to discuss the situation in Eritrea and the region. I also have regular meetings with the Eritrean ambassador in London.
Our ambassador in Eritrea, as well as one of his staff, have attended various UN and Eritrean Relief and Refugee Committee meetings to discuss the humanitarian situation in Eritrea and have reported back to DFID and FCO.
Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment her Department has made of the current food needs of the people of Ethiopia; what proportion of these are being met by the international community; how much of these food needs are being met by Britain; and whether her Department intends to increase the volume of food being delivered to Ethiopia. 
Clare Short: We are keeping the humanitarian situation in Ethiopia under continuous review, using the reports and assessments made by the Government and international agencies involved. WFP remain concerned about prospects for February and March, when needs are expected to be high, though they estimate that current pledges of food aid to be sufficient to meet needs until mid-January 2003. The Ethiopian Food Security Reserve is expected on current estimates to have sufficient stocks available until April.
We are taking careful note of the WFP and Government of Ethiopia reports and appeals. As always we remain committed to playing our part in the international response to humanitarian need, which includes increasing UK bilateral contributions when necessary.
Clare Short: The last ministerial visit to Ethiopia from my Department was my visit to Ethiopia in November 2000. I plan to visit Ethiopia in January 2003 to attend the Economic Commission for Africa Big Table meeting, and for discussions with the Ethiopian Government.
Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development which non-governmental organisations working in Ethiopia she has consulted regarding the current humanitarian situation in Ethiopia; and on what dates. 
Clare Short: There is frequent in-country dialogue between DFID and non-governmental organisations, as well as other donors. Since mid-2002, when early warning signs of problems were emerging, the Ethiopian Government, donors and NGOs have been working closely together to assess the situation and frame an appropriate response. This dialogue will continue as we move into 2003. We also invited a range of NGOs to a meeting that we hosted in DFID on 20 November to discuss the humanitarian situation in Ethiopia.
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Ethiopia regarding the humanitarian situation in Ethiopia and the response of the international community to the humanitarian situation facing Ethiopia. 
Clare Short: We regularly discuss the humanitarian situation in Ethiopia with the UN's Emergency Unit for Ethiopia. In 2002 we have funded the unit to enable them to strengthen their co-ordination role. We welcome the fact that the Ethiopian Government have led needs assessments and responses in 2002 and believe that the UN-EUE has played a valuable role in supporting them.
Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if she will make a statement on the outcome of her meeting with the President of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development on 21 October. 
Clare Short: President Lemierre and I met primarily to discuss the 2003 EBRD Annual Meeting in Tashkent, which the UK will chair. The people of Central Asia need progress with poverty reduction, regional stability and the fight against corruption. President Lemierre and I agreed that it was timely for the EBRD Annual Meeting to be in Central Asia, in order to focus attention on the challenges facing the region. The meeting will be a good opportunity for a full and open discussion of progress in achieving economic and political transition, tackling the region's poverty, improving the investment climate and increasing regional co-operation.
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