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19 Jan 2004 : Column 947Wcontinued
Richard Burden: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development (1) what assessment he has made of the impact of (a) movement restrictions on Palestinians and (b) the construction of the separation wall on the access of children living in the town of Abu Dis and surrounding villages to schools and other educational facilities; 
Hilary Benn: Abu Dis and its neighbouring villages on the eastern flank of Jerusalem are socially and economically integrated into Jerusalem. The construction of the separation wall, between the municipal boundary of Jerusalem and Abu Dis, will isolate Palestinians from their places of work, schools and health facilities.
Abu Dis provides only basic health care services. Movement restrictions and the separation barrier, will deny many Palestinians access to the nearest hospitals in Jerusalem. Schooling will be severely disrupted too.
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Currently many Jerusalemites send their children to schools in Abu Dis, and vice versa. The separation wall cuts through Al Quds University, which will lose one third of its land.
Richard Burden: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development (1) what assessment he has made of the preliminary analysis of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs published on 15 December 2003 into the humanitarian consequences of the planned route of the Separation Wall outlined in the map released by the Israeli Government on 23 October 2003; 
Hilary Benn: I agree with the preliminary analysis on the humanitarian consequences of the separation wall in the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs report of 15 December 2003. The livelihoods of thousands of Palestinians have been drastically affected by the separation of villages from their agricultural land and water resources. The separation wall fragments communities and isolates people from vital social support networks.
I have placed in the Libraries of both Houses copies of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs preliminary analysis on the humanitarian consequences of the planned route of the separation wall, published on 15 December 2003.
Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what further action he proposes to take to secure a sustainable reduction in the proportion of people living in poverty in Africa. 
Hilary Benn: The UK is committed to helping secure a sustainable reduction in the proportion of people living in extreme poverty in sub-Saharan Africa. The Prime Minister gave his commitment prior to the G8 summit in Canada in 2002 to significantly increase UK spending on bilateral programmes in Africa, and we are on course to increase the UK's budget for bilateral programmes in Africa, to £1 billion by 200506, (up from around £650 million a year in 2002).
We shall concentrate our resources in countries strongly committed to poverty reduction and on helping to end and recover from conflict. We will work to improve the effectiveness of UK and others' aid, by supporting country government systems and priorities. We shall continue to promote better coordination and harmonisation between bilateral donors and multilateral organisations on the ground.
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Norman Lamb: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if he will make a statement on his Department's procurement policy with regard to offshore IT and call centre outsourcing; whether his Department is outsourcing IT and call centre jobs to offshore companies; to which countries his Department has outsourced these jobs; how much his Department has spent on this outsourcing in each of the last two years; and how much has been budgeted for this purpose for the next two years. 
Hilary Benn: The present policy in DFID is to undertake our IT work in the most cost-effective and efficient way with a blend of "in-house teams" and outsourcing where appropriate. We have no specific policy about offshore outsourcing but keep the situation under regular review.
Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what recent assessment he has made of the security situation in Sierra Leone and its impact on the provision of humanitarian aid. 
Hilary Benn: Security is well-established across Sierra Leone. The whole country is under Government control, with the support of UNAMSIL. The Government's security agencies are developing their capacity in preparation for the withdrawal of UNAMSIL at the end of the year. The UK is providing extensive support to this process. The Government are currently carrying out a security sector review to put in place measures to guard against threats in the future, both internal and external. We plan to review our support to the security sector when the report of the Government's review is available, and will make modifications to our support as necessary, to assist with the maintenance of security beyond the departure of UNAMSIL.
John Barrett: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if he will make a statement on the status of the drought affecting the north-western regions of Somalia; and what assessment he has made of the impact which the drought is having on levels of malnutrition in the region. 
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Hilary Benn: A succession of failed rains over the past four years has resulted in large-scale food insecurity among pastoral populations in the Sool and Sanaag regions of northern Somalia. The UN Food Security Assessment Unit (FSAU) surveyed the Sool plateau between 27 November and 5 December 2003, with preliminary results showing a global acute malnutrition rate of 18.9 per cent. and a severe acute malnutrition rate of 3.8 per cent. amongst children. Malnutrition rates among adult women (15 to 49 years) were 17.3 per cent., suggesting all household members are affected by the current drought. There is evidence of deterioration in the nutritional status of the population, confirmed by reports of collapsing social support system and a worsening drought after the failure of Deyr rains. Malnutrition rates appeared significantly higher among children from pastoral households than those in major villages. With no rains expected before April, further losses to livestock and other assets are expected.
Unfortunately the growing tension between Somaliland and Puntland, who both claim the drought-affected areas as their territory, could jeopardise assistance if the situation escalates into violent conflict.
Mr. Gareth Thomas: In 200304 DFID is spending £164,500 to tackle the problem of street children in Russia, of which £89,000 is committed under the project "Supporting Vulnerable Children in Ekaterinburg and Sverdlovsk Oblast". The project purpose is to improve the quality of life for vulnerable children by providing family-focused, rather than institutional, care. The remaining £75,000 is committed under a number of-small projects funded through the Health and Social Care Partnership Scheme. These projects include drug and alcohol awareness programmes for street children, activities to prevent homelessness and the development of foster care.
Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how many street children there are in (a) Asia, (b) Africa, (c) Latin America, the Caribbean and the overseas territories and (d) the Middle East. 
Hilary Benn: There are no internationally agreed definitions of street children and estimates of total numbers are unreliable and patchy. For all areas, numbers are therefore very difficult to assess.
In Africa street children form a proportion of the 300 million people that live in extreme poverty (on less than $1 per day, figure relates to 1999). Across Africa we know that some 50 million girls and boys are out of school (UNESCO). Some of these will be street children.
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In Latin America street children again form a proportion of the 135 million people that live in poverty (on less than $2 per day). There are some 2 million children out of school at primary level and some of these will be street children.
The numbers of street children in the Middle East region as a whole is difficult to assess although UNICEF estimate that there are in excess of 1 million street children in Cairo alone. Where children are particularly vulnerable, for instance Iraq, UNICEF is undertaking research that will assist the government and international donor community efforts to meet their needs.
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