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30 Jan 2003 : Column 961W—continued


Adam Price: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the risk to the security of the UK posed by terrorist organisations based in Pakistan. [93434]

Mr. Blunkett: I have been asked to reply.

Advice on any terrorist threat to the UK is the responsibility of the Security Service. Strategic assessments about terrorist threats to the UK are provided to the Government by the Joint Intelligence Committee. All threats are a matter that the Government continue to take seriously and are kept under constant review.

Roma People

Dr. Tonge: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has made to the Governments of (a) the Czech Republic, (b) Hungary, (c) Romania and (d) Slovakia, on the living standards of their Roma citizens. [93467]

Mr. MacShane [holding answer 28 January 2003]: My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary met the Foreign Ministers of the Czech Republic, Hungary and Romania in 2002. He raised the question of Roma minorities with all three. He also plans to meet the

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Slovak Foreign Minister in February 2003. The UK's programmes of pre-accession support for candidate countries puts a high priority on improving the quality of life of Roma minorities.

All four states have been found to meet the Copenhagen criteria, which require a state to uphold the basic human rights of all its citizens.

Saudi Arabia

Dr. Pugh: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what measures are being taken to secure the release of the detainees: Sandy Mitchell, Les Walker, James Lee and James Cottel, arrested in Saudi Arabia. [93703]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: My right hon. Friend, the Foreign Secretary, and ministerial colleagues have raised the cases of the British men detained in Saudi Arabia at the highest levels with the Saudi authorities. We remain deeply concerned about these cases. The men's welfare is a key concern. We continue to work to resolve the cases. We are in close contact with the Saudi authorities and the men's lawyers. We also continue to make consular visits to the men.



John Barrett: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, pursuant to her answer of 20 January 2003, Official Report, columns 14–15W, on Afghanistan, what consideration has been given to the use of security forces to assist in the dispersal of humanitarian aid; and what steps are being taken to address the security situation in Zabul province. [93909]

Clare Short: Since my last answer of 20 January 2003, the UN in Kabul have spoken to the Governor of Zabul province and have agreed improvements in security for those aid agencies operating in Zabul. Most of the hijacked cars, together with the equipment on board, have also been recovered.

It is not the primary role of the security forces in Afghanistan to assist with the distribution of humanitarian aid, although they have been involved in a limited number of successful small projects in and around Kabul. The main purpose of security forces is to improve the security conditions to allow humanitarian and development organisations to provide assistance themselves.

New joint civil-military provincial reconstruction teams are being deployed over the next few months to help provide greater security outside Kabul.


Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment her Department has made of the effectiveness of (a) the New Partnership for African Development and (b) the Africa Union in promoting democracy in Zimbabwe. [93858]

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Clare Short: The New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD) commits African leaders to the promotion of good governance, human rights and democracy. It is a new process and obviously cannot overnight correct all governance problems in Africa such as those in Zimbabwe. The African Union has to reflect the views of all African states. It has traditionally been reluctant to comment on the internal affairs of a member state, although there are encouraging indications that this attitude is changing. The UK government continues to work with African governments and regional initiatives and institutions to promote good governance, human rights and democracy. We should not of course punish all of Africa for the situation in Zimbabwe.


John Barrett: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what progress is being made with collection of data on the state of health in Angola. [93801]

Clare Short: The need for more effective information management systems in the health and education systems in Angola, including improved collection and analysis of data, has been identified as a key issue for future progress in the 2002 UN Common Country Assessment. This need is likely to be highlighted in the Interim Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper, on which the Government are presently working, which will provide the framework for future donor support to Angola.

John Barrett: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what percentage of people in Angola are suffering from (a) HIV/Aids and (b) malaria; and if she will make a statement. [93802]

Clare Short: According to the UNAIDS office in Angola, very few accurate statistics are available on HIV/AIDS outside the capital Luanda, where HIV infection rose sharply from 3.4 per cent. in 1999 to 8.6 per cent. in 2001. Overall, it is estimated that over 520,000 adults in Angola (out of an adult population of just over six million) were living with HIV in 2001. With regard to malaria, the UNDP Human Development Report 2002 states that there were 8,796 cases per 100,000 in 2000.

The Government of Angola is currently drafting an Interim Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (I-PRSP) which includes an assessment of the country's health needs. This will state how donors can support work on HIV/AIDS and malaria. My Department will consider the implications for our development support to Angola, once the I-PRSP strategy becomes available.

John Barrett: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps she is taking in the development of local government in Angola; and if she will make a statement. [93803]

Clare Short: Local government in Angola is relatively weak due to a lack of consistent funding from the centre and because it is appointed rather than elected. This has created a distance between local government and Angola's citizens.

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My Department has been providing some £7.5 million of support to the Luanda Urban Poverty Programme (LUPP). One of the main objectives of the programme is to build local government capacity so that it can provide improved services to the communities for which it is responsible. Using participatory methods, the programme is assisting local government to work in partnership with community associations to achieve tangible outcomes such as clean water, sanitation and waste disposal. This process will contribute to strengthening local democracy as government and communities learn to work together. We are presently considering a second phase of support to LUPP.

John Barrett: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what percentage of children in Angola are being educated to primary school standard; and if she will make a statement. [93804]

Clare Short: UNICEF has estimated that 51.2 per cent. of Angolan children attended primary school in 2001. However, the 2003 UN Inter-Agency Consolidated Appeal (CAP) estimates that at least 80 per cent. of all Angolan children do not have access to adequate education and more than one million children are outside the formal school system. In newly accessible areas, seven out of ten children do not attend school.

Primary education is only one of several key tasks that confront the Government of Angola. The Ministry of Education recognises the need to address this situation and has set itself a target of achieving two thirds enrolment by 2005.

John Barrett: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps are being taken to retrain former military personnel in Angola. [93805]

Clare Short: The proposed Angolan demobilisation and reintegration programme is currently being negotiated between the Government of Angola and the World bank. The programme will include sub-projects to provide ex-combatants with a wide range of educational opportunities from basic literacy to apprenticeships and professional qualifications. Agricultural extension services and support for the self-employed and micro enterprise are also envisaged.

Over 5,000 ex-UNITA fighters are being integrated into the Angolan armed forces, as part of the disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration process in Angola. They are receiving up to three months training depending on their rank and existing skills.

John Barrett: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what action is being taken to ensure that revenue raised from the exploitation of natural resources in Angola is used for the development of the country. [93806]

Clare Short: Since the end of the civil war, we and other donors have been impressing on the Government of Angola the need for transparency over the collection and allocation of resources, and the need to increase levels of spending in the social sectors and for national reconstruction. Last year, the United Nations, in partnership with the Angolan Government, carried out an assessment of public financing of the social sectors in Angola. The objective of the study was to make practical recommendations regarding the distribution

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of resources and budget management mechanisms. More recently, my Department has provided consultancy support toward the preparation of Angola's Interim Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (I-PRSP), specifically in clarifying details of the Government budget including a breakdown of revenues.

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