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Maternal Mortality

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what action his Department has taken to improve (a) coverage of skilled care at delivery and (b) the use of emergency obstetric care to reduce maternal mortality in sub-Saharan Africa. [148512]

Hilary Benn: The Millennium Development Goals are central to the Department for International Development's work, including the goal to improve maternal health, and its associated target of reducing maternal mortality. Constraints to reducing maternal deaths in Africa are weak and under-resourced health systems and the general human resource crisis in the health sector.

Access to skilled care at birth and emergency obstetric care are main elements to prevent maternal deaths, and help prevent ill health and disability as a result of complications in pregnancy or childbirth. DFID's Public Service Agreement includes ambitious targets on increasing access to skilled attendance at birth. The Department's strategy includes: highlighting the issue internationally; support to countries to strengthen health systems and improve access to maternal and reproductive health services; and support for research and improved measurement and monitoring for safe motherhood. DFID is actively engaged in a new international partnership for Safe Motherhood and Newborn Health.

We support the maternal health strategies of African countries through safe motherhood projects, for example in Kenya and Malawi, health sector budget support and, indirectly, through general budget support. We also fund international multilateral agencies and international NGOs active in supporting maternal health programmes in Africa. Since 1997 we have committed approximately £1.5 billion to support health systems. Through our participation in the High Level Forum on health we are promoting, with the WB, WHO and others, a renewed effort to accelerate progress towards all the health related MDGs.

Middle East

Richard Burden: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment he has made of the implications for the work of humanitarian aid agencies of the information bulletin being issued to foreign nationals arriving in Israel which informs them that entry to territories under the control of the Palestinian Authority is forbidden without written prior authorisation from the Israeli Government and that entry to those territories without such written authorisation may result in legal action being taken; and what representations he is making to Israel on the issue. [149934]

Hilary Benn: The Government is aware of the information bulletin, which has been issued to foreign nationals arriving in Israel, and is seriously concerned at the possible impact of such restrictions on humanitarian

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and other aid organisations working in the West Bank. It could seriously disrupt the supply of essential emergency provisions for the most vulnerable Palestinians. We have raised our concerns with the Israeli government and is exploring with our EU partners further avenues for doing so.


Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how many refugee camps in Pakistan are being run by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. [149975]

Mr. Gareth Thomas: United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees provides full assistance (food, water, shelter, education and health care) in 13 new camps which opened after 11 September 2001. Just under 200,000 refugees reside in these new camps.

In addition, it is estimated that there are in the region of 200 old refugee settlements in Pakistan with a population of between 900,000 and 1 million. In these camps UNHCR provides assistance with health care and education.

Rwanda and Burundi

Mr. Love: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what aid is being provided to (a) Rwanda and (b) Burundi (i) for development and (ii) to re-establish its justice system; and if he will make a statement. [148858]

Hilary Benn: Establishing a fair and effective justice system in Rwanda is crucial for the stability and prosperity of the country. The most immediate challenge is to process the more than 100,000 individuals currently in Rwandan prisons accused of genocidal crimes.

The UK Government has provided £715,000 for research into the efficiency and effectiveness of gacaca—the traditional justice system adopted by the Government of Rwanda to try those accused of genocidal crimes. This programme is managed by Penal Reform International (PRI). This financial year, the UK will also provide some £25 million to the Government of Rwanda as direct budgetary support. These funds support the implementation of Rwanda's PRSP, which highlights justice as a priority sector.

At the request of the Government of Rwanda, the Belgian Government leads donor activity in the justice sector. Other major donors in this sector include the Dutch Government (construction of gacaca courts), the Canadian Government (the administration of the Supreme Court), the European Union (rehabilitation of the Ministry of Justice and the Supreme Court), and the German Government (rehabilitation of judicial systems).

In the case of Burundi, the UK commitment in 2003–04 so far amounts to £11.62 million. Our programme consists of support to peace building and conflict resolution initiatives; and humanitarian assistance through the United Nations agencies, non-governmental organisations and other international agencies. We are also working with the Government of Burundi providing technical support and advice on their

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Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper and on capacity building issues. We are looking at the possibility of assistance in collaboration with others in the area of electoral reform.

Beyond this, we have no specific plans for support to the justice sector. However, the European Commission, under their recently agreed National Indicative Programme for Burundi for the period 2003 to 2007, are developing a significant support programme in good governance including the justice sector.


Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what recent assessment he has made of the levels of (a) fighting and (b) casualties in Darfur; and what they were in June 2003. [149998]

Hilary Benn: There is limited access to be able to accurately assess the situation in Darfur. Our Humanitarian Adviser is planning to visit the area this week, as well as eastern Chad.

We are very concerned about the situation in Darfur. NGOs in Chad are reporting an increase in numbers of wounded due to the aerial bombardments that are reported to have taken place. The latest UN information suggests that 600,000 people, out of a total population of about 6 million in Darfur, are currently displaced because of the conflict, with a further 90,000 refugees in Chad.

We are pressing all sides to re-establish a ceasefire and resume peaceful negotiations, to allow unfettered humanitarian access.

Think Tanks

Mr. Challen: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what the (a) value and (b) purpose was of contracts entered into by his Department with independent think tanks or their subsidiary bodies since 1997, broken down by think tank or subsidiary body. [146958]

Hilary Benn: I have placed in the House of Commons Library a list of DFID consultancy contracts with think tanks. This does not include lower value contracts, details of which are not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.


Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what recent assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the Uganda Presidential Peace Team. [149973]

Hilary Benn: The Presidential Peace Team (PPT) was formed in August 2002. It comprises a number of Acholi MPs, Army Officers, Government Ministers and officials. Between August 2002 and May 2003 the PPT was involved in a number of attempts to initiate dialogue with the LRA. However these were unsuccessful.

While the PPT still exists, our current assessment is that it is largely inactive, and therefore ineffective. A revitalised and suitably empowered PPT would be an

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important component of an effective strategy to end the conflict. We have stressed this in our contacts with the Government of Uganda and will continue to do so.

World Food Programme (Southern Africa)

John Barrett: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what shortfall exists in the World Food Programme appeal from July 2003 for food aid in southern Africa; what impact the shortfall has had on the ability to deal with the humanitarian situation in the region; and what steps are being taken to make up the shortfall. [150106]

Hilary Benn: Latest figures from the UN indicate that, so far, WFP has secured 69 per cent. of food aid requirements for this year's Consolidated Appeal for southern Africa. DFID contributions have helped ease the most pressing food shortages in key countries, notably Zimbabwe and Mozambique. The European Commission has recently announced a $25 million contribution for WFP programmes in Zimbabwe.

DFID has been supporting the work of the Vulnerability Assessment Committees in affected countries in order to better understand needs and direct resources to them. Assessments will be carried out in Swaziland and Lesotho over the next few weeks and a fuller assessment of Mozambique's food security situation will be undertaken in March. We are awaiting the release of the urban vulnerability study, which was recently undertaken in Zimbabwe. All of these studies are being funded by DFID.

The UN is seeking funding from a range of donors for the remainder of the Southern African Consolidated Appeal. DFID continues to be the second biggest bilateral contributor of humanitarian aid to southern Africa.

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