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Clare Short : I remain in regular contact with my officials in Malawi about the humanitarian situation there. A recent UN assessment concluded that 2.2 million people are currently in need of food assistance. This will rise to 3.25 milliona third of the populationbetween now and March, after which the 2003 harvest will begin. So far, the rains have been good.
DFID's emergency assistance to help deal with the food situation, now totals #34.5 million. This includes #4 million which I approved just before Christmas to support WHO/UNICEF disease surveillance and control, for supplementary feeding programmes and food distribution to people living in AIDS affected households.
Clare Short: There has been a trend towards reintroduction of sorghum in southern Mozambique to promote resilience to drought. However, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) recently held a meeting that concluded that sorghum is not an ideal alternative to maize in southern Mozambique.
Though sorghum resists drought a little bit better than maize, it is not a drought resistant crop, it is very labour intensive, has a long growing period and has high demands on soil fertility and moisture. Maize has also tended to experience steady market prices and an unlimited demand on the market as an export crop for Europe.
The FAO meeting concluded that the best solution for southern Africa would be to identify patches with the right conditions for either maize or sorghum, and that the success of the introduction of any new crop will depend on the prevailing economic and marketing prospects.
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Richard Burden: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment she has made of the recent report by Catherine Bertini on the level of UK development funds allocated to Palestinians. 
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Clare Short: Catherine Bertini's report, and the subsequent UN Humanitarian Plan of Action, stimulated a very useful debate in the international community on how best to respond to the growing humanitarian crisis in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. I agreed in October 2002 an additional #5 million DFID contribution to help meet most urgent needs of the Palestinian people. Total projected expenditure for support to Palestinians for this financial year is now #32 million. This comprises #15 million bilaterally and #17 million through UNRWA.
Richard Burden: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what emergency funds are being made available by the UK to assist Palestinians impoverished by Israeli military actions. 
Clare Short: We are providing support for a number of emergency programmes, including non-salary budgetary support, trauma counselling, special educational needs and UNRWA's emergency appeals. This year, out of estimated bilateral expenditure of #15 million, we anticipate that about #8 million will be for 'emergency' programmes. In addition, we have contributed #7 million to UNRWA's emergency appeal for 2002.
Mr. Breed: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what contributions her Department has made to assist UNRWA in its work with Palestinians in the Occupied Territories; and if she will make a statement. 
Clare Short: UNRWA's needs are urgent, and it is critical to ensure that it receives consistent and predictable levels of support. The UK is UNRWA's second largest bilateral donor. In addition to our funding for UNRWA's regular budget#42 million over the last three yearswe have contributed over #20 million for UNRWA's emergency appeals in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Alistair Burt: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development whether her Department selected the agencies to oversee the (a) management and (b) distribution of the recent grant to the Department of Health in Peru. 
Clare Short: The humanitarian crisis in Southern Africa was discussed at the 18 November meeting of the EU Council of Ministers. I have written to my counterparts in OECD countries urging them to give greater support to help relieve the humanitarian crisis in Zambia. The situation in Zambia is extremely serious with about 3 million people in need of assistance. The
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Clare Short: Fuel supplies have been erratic in Zimbabwe for the last three years. The problem is a direct consequence of economic mismanagement. Foreign exchange to pay for fuel is very scarce, yet it is still sold at controlled prices that do not cover costs.
Larger organisations such as the UN and International NGOs, and other Government missions including DFID, have contracted to purchase fuel direct from importers at world-market rates and pay in foreign currency. The WFP has buffer stocks, some of which are in the rural areas and their feeding programmes are not likely to be seriously disrupted.
Smaller organisations that rely on the commercial transport industry to distribute their food have been harder hit. However, these too are becoming more adept in covering short-term fuel problems, either through building up a reserve when fuel is available, or pre-positioning food supplies in rural areas. DFID's feeding partner organisations all pre-positioned food in the rural areas for the Christmas and new year period, and food distribution has continued.
Clare Short: The humanitarian crisis in Southern Africa was discussed at the 18 November meeting of the EU Council of Ministers. I have written to my counterparts in OECD countries urging them to give greater support to help relieve the humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe. The situation in Zimbabwe is a disaster. Of the 15.5 million people in need of food in southern Africa, 6.5 million are in Zimbabwe. One in three adults in Zimbabwe are infected with HIV. The UK has provided #38 million of assistance in response to the humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe since September 2001.
Keith Vaz: To ask the Prime Minister what progress has been made on the proposals for EU institutional change pursued in his joint letter with Chancellor Schröder of 25 February 2002; and what steps he will take to ensure that these targets of institutional change are reached. 
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transparency of the Council. These are now in place. They focus on improving the practices of the European Council, reform of the General Affairs Council, delivering more openness when legislating on dossiers subject to co-decision, and rationalising the number of sectoral Council formations from 16 to 9. These changes have already led to more effective preparation of European Council meetings during the Danish Presidency.
Heads of State and Government at Seville also agreed that the Council should consider further change in parallel with the Convention on the Future of Europe. The European Council at Copenhagen took note of a Presidency paper that set out possible models for Council reform. The Government will also continue to pursue these issues in the Convention.
The Prime Minister: The European Union Treaty stipulates that any European State which respects the principles set out in the Treaty may apply to become a member of the Union. In addition, applicants have to meet the Copenhagen criteria, which relate to democracy, the rule of law, respect for human rights and protection of minorities, a functioning market economy with the capacity to withstand competitive pressure in the EU, and the ability to take on the obligations of membership.
It is too early to say how far the EU might enlarge in the future. The EU has already recognised the countries of the Western Balkans as potential candidates. With UK support, the EU will be considering how it should further develop its relations with the countries to its east. The countries of North Africa are not European States.
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