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Democratic Republic of Congo

Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what resources his Department has allocated to assessing the humanitarian situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo in each year since 1997; and if he will make a statement. [203804]

Hilary Benn: The DFID humanitarian programme in the Democratic Republic of Congo has increased each year since 1998, as follows:

DFID keeps in close touch with the situation on the ground, through reporting from the UK embassy and the DFID Office in Kinshasa, contact with UN agencies and non-governmental organisations, as well as visits by DFID humanitarian experts to assess the extent of humanitarian needs. DFID is unable to identify the exact cost associated with this. DFID has also contributed to the co-ordination of the relief effort, including humanitarian assessments, by providing funds to the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what estimate his Department has made of the number of people hiding in the forests of Pinga and Walikale in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo following the recently reported increase in violence in the region; what
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assessment he has made of the provisions for humanitarian assistance (a) in and (b) close to the forests of Pinga and Walikale; and if he will make a statement. [203805]

Hilary Benn: On 4 December, the UN Office for the Co-Ordination of Humanitarian Assistance (UNOCHA) reported that an NGO had estimated that 46,000 people are displaced in the forests around Pinga and Walikale as a result of recent fighting. DFID has provided £466,832 to UNOCHA for their Rapid Response Fund to help strengthen the capacity of humanitarian organisations for the effective delivery of humanitarian assistance to the most affected populations in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo; and £2 million to UNICEF for their Rapid Response Capacity for Emergency Situations to provide flexible relief support in the sectors of non-food items, water and sanitation, health, education and nutrition.

DFID has also committed £490,000 to Christian Relief Network, an NGO, for the rehabilitation of the hospital and supporting enterprises in Pinga, which should help to restore life saving primary and secondary health services for 150,000 people. This rehabilitation also has a peacebuilding effect by giving some sign of a peace dividend; it has also so far created job opportunities for 180 people. 130 of these represent unskilled manual labour, and are mainly recruited from local Mai Mai groups.

Departmental Files

Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development whether it is the policy of the Department to retain for the benefit of future (a) historians and (b) applicants under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 the same (i) complete categories of files, (ii) numbers of files and (iii) representative examples of files from categories of files destroyed as had been preserved prior to the passage of that Act. [203300]

Hilary Benn: In accordance with the Public Records Act 1958 S.3, the selection of records of enduring historical value for permanent preservation at The National Archives (TNA) will continue to take place in the Department for International Development under the guidance and supervision of TNA staff. The Department will also comply with the Code of Practice on Records Management, issued by the Lord Chancellor under S.46 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000, which underlines the importance of having clear selection policies and disposal schedules in place.

Education for All

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how much the Government have allocated towards Education for All. [204872]

Hilary Benn: Between 1997 and 2002, DFID has committed over £700 million in basic education in developing countries. That money is part of our efforts to help more children enrol and complete quality education.
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Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what funding his Department is contributing to the Education for All Fast-Track Initiative. [204873]

Hilary Benn: DFID has committed £12 million to the Education For All Fast-Track Initiative over the period 2004–07.


Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment his Department has made of the percentage of malnutrition cases in (a) children and (b) adults in Eritrea; what estimate he has made of the percentages in each year since 1998; and if he will make a statement. [204151]

Hilary Benn: In July 2004, the Eritrean Ministry of Health's National Surveillance System revealed high malnutrition rates among women and children in Gash Barka, Anseba and Northern Red Sea Zobas, with global malnutrition rates estimated as high as 19.4 per cent., 18.4 per cent. and 13.9 per cent. respectively.

According to the Growth Monitoring and Promotion report 2004, 50 per cent. of children under five are undernourished. The 2005 UN Consolidated Appeal reports that maternal malnutrition rates are among the highest in the world at 53 per cent. Global acute malnutrition (GAM) rate trends also vary according to the area. Peak rates are still often very high. For example, GAM rates in the Red Sea areas were between 28.3 per cent. in 2001 and 14.3 per cent. in 2003. GAM rates for Anseba were 19.9 per cent. in 2003 and 18.4 per cent. this year. For the period of 1995–2003 UNICEF assesses the percentage of children suffering from moderate or severe wasting (low weight for height), at 13 per cent., and stunting (low weight for age) at 38 per cent. There is no data available on nationwide malnutrition rates before the Demographic Health Survey carried out in June 2002. Since then, these have been conducted approximately every six months.

DFID is concerned about malnutrition in Eritrea and a large proportion of humanitarian funds support specialised supplementary feeding programmes. A team from DFID will be visiting Eritrea shortly to discuss these issues with the Eritrean Government, the UN and other agencies.

Gym Provision

Mr. George Osborne: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how many gyms are available to the staff in the Department; and what the cost of providing them was in the last year for which figures are available. [204364]

Hilary Benn: DFID currently has one fitness centre, in our main office at 1 Palace Street, London. The cost of this facility during 2003–04, after members' subscriptions, was £8,500. We are intending to add a second facility in our East Kilbride office during the final stage of the refurbishment of this office next year.
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Health Spending (Third World)

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps are being taken to increase the amount of money spent per head of population on health in the Third World. [204670]

Hilary Benn: The levels of per capita spend on health in many low income countries are pitifully low, often government expenditure may be as little as US$5 per capita annually. DFID works with many countries to highlight the contribution of better health to development, advocates for increased allocations, and supports efforts to strengthen health systems and use available funds more effectively to deal with the major causes of ill health, disability and death. Health needs more resources, both from domestic revenue and through major increases in donor funding. However decisions on budget allocations across sectors are the responsibility of sovereign governments. Allocations will increase as economies grow wealthier. That requires more rapid progress on increasing aid volumes, in dealing with debt and in ensuring fairer trade regime.

A number of initiatives have highlighted the scale of need. The Commission on Macroeconomics and Health highlighted the interaction between health and poverty and has convinced many Ministers of Finance that health is a vital investment for the future. The report estimated that delivery of a basic health service would require US$ 35 per capita. The UN Millennium Project is quantifying the costs of meeting the Millennium Goals, many of which are directly or indirectly health related.

African Heads of State, meeting in Abuja in 2000, made a commitment to increase the health budget to 15 per cent. of the government budget—from a level that is typically less than 10 per cent. Progress has been slow to date.

The Global Fund to Fight AIDS Tuberculosis and Malaria was established in 2002 to generate significant additional resources to combat the three major communicable disease that collectively kill more than six million people each year. To date US$ 5.7 billion has been pledged to the fund, approvals to countries total US$ 3 billion through 315 grants in 128 countries and to date almost US$700 million has been disbursed.

The UK development budget has increased significantly since 1997. Under the terms of the Spending Review 2004, total UK official development assistance (oda) will rise from £4.14 billion in 2004–05 to £6.46 billion by 2007–08, The UK is making progress towards the UN 0.7 per cent. target for official development assistance (oda) as a proportion of gross national income. On current plans this will rise to 0.39 per cent. in 2005–06 and 0.47 per cent. in 2007–08, and this represents a real terms increase in UK oda of 140 per cent. since 1997. The Government wishes to continue to raise UK oda at the rate of growth achieved in 2007–08 in the aid ratio, which on this timetable would rise beyond 0.5 per cent. after 2008 and reach 0.7 per cent. by 2013. The UK has proposed an International Financing Facility (IFF), designed to deliver an additional US$50 billion annually in aid in the period to 2015. The UK, and France, will demonstrate the practicality of the IFF by launching the
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International Finance Facility for Immunisation in the first half of 2005. This is expected to double support for global immunisation efforts over the next decade.

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