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Clare Short: 99 per cent. of the 510,000 maternal deaths and most of the widespread disability caused by complications in childbirth worldwide are in developing countries. Up to 80 per cent. of these deaths result from five relatively common obstetric complications: haemorrhage, infection, complications of abortion, eclampsia and obstructed labour. Almost all of these deaths could be avoided by timely, effective interventions by skilled attendants at delivery, backed up by a functioning referral system and access to emergency obstetric care. This requires effective care and functioning health systems. To this end my Department have committed over £1 billion since 1997
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Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, pursuant to her answer of 22 January 2003, Official Report, column 313W, on Mozambique, what the response has been to the Mozambiquan Government's request for help from UN agencies; and what the nature has been of her Department's support. 
Clare Short: The World Food Programme (WFP) has responded to the Government's request for assistance by implementing a food distribution programme focusing on six provinces and 38 districts considered worst affected by the drought. Between July and December WFP distributed some 14,301 metric tonnes of food aid. As the operation gradually expanded over the six-month period, WFP's beneficiary caseload gradually increased. In December food rations were distributed to 247,130 people.
The programme is carried out through implementing partners representing a mix of international and national non-governmental organisations, and the Mozambique Red Cross. In 11 areas of operation the programme is implemented directly through local authorities. Implementing partners help to identify vulnerable households eligible to receive food aid, and organise physical distribution of food at the community level. The main focus of the programme to date has been on implementing food-for-work schemes. Given that Mozambique is now entering the hungry period, a programme shift, with greater emphasis on meeting the needs of vulnerable people who cannot work is planned.
UNICEF has extended its regular country programme to include the implementation of drought response projects in areas that are considered to be particularly vulnerable. With support from DFID (£973, 000), UNICEF is implementing a blanket supplementary feeding programme for children aged 659 months and for pregnant and lactating mothers. The project will focus on the six provinces considered most vulnerable and aims to reach 141,000 children and 71,000 women. The programme also includes follow-up treatment and care for severely malnourished children through support to the existing therapeutic feeding centre network. UNICEF will implement activities through a network of partners comprising local and international NGOs and the Mozambique Red Cross.
In addition, UNICEF has also responded to the Government's request for assistance by supporting the creation of thirty sentinel sites for nutritional surveillance in order to measure acute malnutrition trends. This programme focuses on three drought-affected provinces. Planning work is under way to expand the programme and increase geographical coverage of the sites. UNICEF has also been working on strengthening epidemiological preparedness and providing additional support to measles vaccination campaigns. Furthermore, UNICEF has increased its focus on the provision of clean water at health centres in the districts worst affected by the drought. UNICEF is also pre-positioning school kits as an incentive for
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children to attend school, given indications that both the drought and the HIV/AIDS pandemic is resulting in increased drop-out rates.
DFID has provided £1 million for a cash for work programme, providing an income source in the short term and increasing access to markets in the longer term. DFID is providing £973,000 in support of UNICEF's supplementary feeding programme. DFID is looking at providing up to £500,000 to support agricultural input fairs given poor crop forecasts in many areas of southern Mozambique.
Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what discussions she has had with the French Government regarding the renewal of the EU travel ban on (a) Robert Mugabe and (b) other Zimbabwean Government officials. 
Clare Short [holding answer 29 January 2003]: I have not discussed the renewal of the EU travel ban with the French Government. The Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary has had regular discussions with his French and other counterparts on this issue, including at the General Affairs and External Relations Council in Brussels on 27 January. I have discussed the urgent humanitarian needs in Zimbabwe with the French and other Development Ministers, and reiterated the importance for the Zimbabwean people, especially the poor, of reversing the disastrous policies of the present Zimbabwean government.
Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development (1) what discussions she has had with the Foreign Office regarding the renewal of the EU travel ban on (a) Robert Mugabe and (b) other Zimbabwean Government officials; 
Clare Short [holding answer 29 January 2003]: The Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary and I have not discussed the renewal of the EU travel ban on Robert Mugabe and other Zimbabwean Government officials nor the Franco-African Summit. We have regular and extensive discussions on the urgent humanitarian needs in Zimbabwe and the importance for the Zimbabwean people, especially the poor, of reversing the disastrous policies of the present Zimbabwean government.
Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what the rate of staff (a) absenteeism and (b) sickness was in her Department and each of its agencies and non-departmental public bodies in each year from 199091 to 200203; what the target set is for her Department; and if she will make a statement. 
Clare Short: We are unable to provide details of rates of staff absenteeism as unauthorised absence is recorded as unpaid leave along with properly authorised absence (such as additional maternity leave or career breaks) and cannot be disaggregated.
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|Year||Number of absences||Average number of days per staff year|
Mr. Colman: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps her Department has taken in response to the UN Secretary General's report to the Security Council on the UN mission in Sierra Leone, with particular reference to the transfer of responsibilities to the Government of Sierra Leone. 
Clare Short: We are playing a key role in assisting the Government of Sierra Leone to prepare for the withdrawal of UNAMSIL. Through joint action between my Department, the Ministry of Defence and the FCO, and using funds from the Africa Conflict Prevention Pool, the UK is leading the international military assistance training team; we are providing technical assistance for capacity-building in the Ministry of Defence, including the working relationship between civilian and military staff; we have funded the renovation and equipping of a new headquarters for the Ministry of Defence; and we are providing technical assistance to help the Office of National Security to operate effective, non-political, intelligence services. We are also providing a major programme to support the reform and strengthening of the Sierra Leone police.
Clare Short: The LRA have for many years made a practice of making children a main target of their war. Until security improves in northern Uganda, however, UNICEF will not be able to collect precise data on the number of unaccounted children. Renewed LRA
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activity last year led to a dramatic increase, and it is estimated that 4,500 children were abducted in 2002 (compared to 100 in 2001). It is unclear how many of these children have returned home and how many are still being held by the LRA inside Uganda or Sudan. Unfortunately, many of these children will have been killed. DFID is supporting Save the Children's efforts to rehabilitate and reintegrate those fortunate enough to escape, and will continue to do so as long as it is required.
Clare Short: The circumstances faced by people in Northern Uganda are of grave concern. Humanitarian consequences of the continuing conflict are high, with an estimated 600,000 internally displaced persons and declining levels of food security due to disruption of harvesting and planting seasons. DFID has made available £1.6 million for food supplies to be distributed by the World Food Programme. The total support from the UK government for humanitarian needs in northern Uganda is £2.5 million this financial year.
Clare Short: I met with President Museveni briefly on transit through Uganda. We discussed his request for increased military spending focused on the need to defeat the Lords Resistance Army. I fully support the need to end the suffering inflicted by the Lords Resistance Army, however our assessment is that this objective does not justify all the additional defence expenditure. In response to the Government of Uganda's breaching of the agreed process for government resource allocations and the consequent increase of defence spending, the UK is to withhold £5 million of its general budget support this financial year.
Clare Short: I am in close contact with President Museveni on the possible responses to the conflict in northern Uganda. This was one of the subjects of our meeting last week at Entebbe airport. The levels of violence perpetrated by the Lord's Resistance Army are terrible, and I support the efforts of the Ugandan government to protect the lives and property of its citizens. The complex nature of the conflict means that dialogue is crucial if a sustainable end to the suffering faced by the Acholi people is to be realised. I have been encouraged by the passing of the Amnesty Act, the appointment of the Government Peace team and the work of the Acholi religious leaders as offering real potential for dialogue.
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