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11 Dec 2002 : Column 331Wcontinued
7. Dr. Ladyman: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment she has made of the threat of long-term water shortages to the developing world. 
Ms Keeble: It is estimated that by 2025 two thirds of the world's population will be suffering water shortages because of lack of water resources especially in Asia and Africa. At present 1 in 5 people lack access to clean water and half of humanity have no sanitation. At the Johannesburg Summit strong commitments were made to better management of water resources and improved access to water and sanitation. My Department is working with its partners to implement these.
8. Mr. Tynan: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what discussions she has had with colleagues from G8 member governments regarding the implementation of the Africa Action Plan. 
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Clare Short: The commitments made to Africa at the G8 Summit in Kananaskis will require sustained commitment. The UK has published its implementation plan and we are pressing others to do the same.
9. Norman Lamb: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if she will make a statement on the recommendations set out in the UN Panel of Experts' report on the Democratic Republic of Congo. 
Clare Short: We believe the broad thrust of the UN Panel of Experts on the Democratic Republic of Congo was useful but it contained some notable and deeply regrettable inaccuracies. We await further information on many of the claims made. We have asked specifically for information to substantiate the claims made against UK companies and nationals.
The current panel's mandate expired when it submitted its last report. We are likely to argue for an extension of the mandate in order that the report can be better substantiated.
10. Mr. David Stewart: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment she has made of the importance of professional armed forces in the process of rebuilding the health and welfare infrastructure in Afghanistan. 
Clare Short: The decree issued by President Karzai during the Petersberg meeting last week on creating a professional Afghan National Army is an important breakthrough. This should lead to progress in extending security outside Kabul which is essential for progress in development.
11. Mrs. Ellman: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if she will make a statement on the famine in Ethiopia. 
Clare Short: The humanitarian situation is a matter of concern. But in 2002, good co-ordination and timely action by the Government of Ethiopia, donors and NGOs has prevented crisis from turning into disaster.
The UK has played a significant role and committed #17.3 million to food and non-food humanitarian assistance in calendar year 2002. DFID has also provided nearly 20 per cent. of the EC contribution. We have also actively promoted and participated in continuous dialogue on the situation between Government, donors and NGOs.
On 7 December, a joint Government-UN appeal was launched for humanitarian assistance in 2003. The appeal identifies 11.3 million people as needing more than 1.4 million metric tonnes of food assistance and places a further 3 million under close monitoring. Such massive need has resulted from the impact of widespread drought on a highly vulnerable population with little capacity to cope with shocks.
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The scale of need has led to comparison with the famine of 1984. However, as reiterated by Prime Minister Meles Zenawi during the appeal launch, no-one anticipates a repeat of the suffering experienced in 1984. A state of war existed in Ethiopia at that time which impeded the humanitarian response. In addition, Government, donors and NGOs have put effective systems of early warning and response in place that were absent in 1984.
But there is no room for complacency. We remain committed to playing our part in responding rapidly to urgent humanitarian need. We also continue to support the Government of Ethiopia in tackling the underlying causes of food insecurity and protecting the vulnerable.
12. Mr. Jack: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what research she has conducted into the factors determining levels of private investment in less-developed countries. 
Clare Short: DFID commissioned a number of papers on private investment (domestic and foreign) as part of the background research programme for the December 2000 White Paper on XEliminating World Poverty: Making Globalisation Work for the Poor". These papers are listed at the back of the White paper and are available on the Government White Paper website: www.globalisation.gov.uk Currently, we are funding two Development Research Centres: the Centre for Regulation and Competition and the Centre for New and Emerging Markets, both of which conduct research into issues related to private investment in developing countries. In addition to funding research, we keep track of relevant research findings from other institutions.
13. Mr. Best: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assistance the Government are providing to the displaced Karenni people on the Thai-Burmese border. 
Clare Short: There are an estimated 130,000 refugees from Karen and Kayah state, living in refugee camps along the Thai-Burma border. Some authorities in Thailand have estimated that a total of 1 million people from Burma live outside of camps in Thailand. The situation for all refugees and internally displaced persons remains extremely vulnerable.
In 200203, my Department has so far disbursed funds of #1.3 million for humanitarian assistance to support both refugees and internally displaced people within Burma/Thailand. The funding is channelled through the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the International Committee of the Red Cross.
14. Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how the GATS agreement will affect a local community's ability to control the provision of services in their area. 
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Clare Short: Under the GATS, Governments retain the right and ability to determine their own domestic regulatory regimes including national policies relating to universal service, affordability of cost to the consumer, quality assurance etc.
In addition the UK Government, other WTO Members and the WTO Secretariat consider public services to be outside the scope of the GATS, regardless of the involvement of private sector finance, where the service to the consumer remains a public service.
Thus, a community's ability to control the provision of services in their area is a matter between that community and its government and cannot be compromised by the GATS.
15. Jeremy Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what the total expenditure is in the current year by her Department on support for Western Sahara refugees in camps in Algeria. 
Clare Short: Our assistance to the Saharawi refugees is channelled through contributions to the European Community Humanitarian Office (ECHO).
A new global plan for assistance to the Saharawi was agreed by the EC in May this year. This will provide 14.34 million euros (approximately #9 million) of assistance over a 15-month period. This brings the total assistance provided since 1993 to over 95 million euros, including over 79 million euros in food aid programme co-ordinated by ECHO, the World Food Programme and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. Nearly 20 per cent. of this funding comes from my Department's budget.
The UK also supports refugees through UNHCR including, but not specifically, Saharawi in camps in Algeria. My Department has recently signed a four-year Institutional Strategy Paper with UNHCR which guarantees the agency core funding for the next four years. For 2002 this contribution is #14 million. As this contribution is unearmarked it is difficult to ascertain exactly how much of the #14 million is spent in the context of this specific refugee situation.
16. Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment she has made of the humanitarian implications of a conflict with Iraq. 
Clare Short: My Department is engaged in regular contingency planning for a variety of potential humanitarian emergencies around the world. In the case of Iraq, we are considering a wide range of contingencies, which take into account the present humanitarian situation in the country. No decision has been taken to launch military action against Iraq and military action is not inevitable.
25. Angela Watkinson : To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what discussions her Department has had with the UN regarding humanitarian contingency planning for a potential war in Iraq. 
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Clare Short: My Department has regular discussions with the UN on general contingency preparedness planning for a variety of eventualities and in a number of countries where it works. In the case of Iraq, the UN is preparing for all eventualities. No decision has been taken to launch military action against Iraq and military action is not inevitable.
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