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Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment his Department has made of the impact of the Cartagena Declaration on the (a) definition and (b) treatment of refugees in Latin America; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Gareth Thomas: DFID has made no assessment of its own of the impact of the Cartagena Declaration on either (a) the definition or (b) treatment of refugees in Latin America.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), who leads on refugee issues, organised a meeting last November in Mexico City on the 20th anniversary of the Cartagena Declaration. At that meeting, the Latin American countries re-affirmed their commitment to the spirit of the Cartagena Declaration on Refugees and approved a Plan of Action to improve refugee protection throughout the region. The UNHCR is expected to include a number of programmes/projects outlined in the Mexico Plan of Action into its 2006 country operation plans in the region, as a way to guarantee a concrete follow up and implementation of the recommendations. Further details can be found on the UNHCR website (www.unhcr.ch).
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Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what contribution his Department (a) has made and (b) is making to the dispatch of emergency aid to Butuo, Liberia. 
Hilary Benn: With the upsurge of violence in Cote d'Ivoire in November 2004, approximately 10,000 Ivorian refugees fled to Liberia, into Butuo town and its vicinity. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the World Food Programme and NGOs brought initial food and other assistance to these refugees by helicopter, drawing in part on £4.7 million in grants already provided by DFID for their work in Liberia. According to the UNHCR, over half the refugees have returned to Cote d'Ivoire, and the remaining 5,000 in and around Butuo are now receiving adequate levels of support, again drawing on DFID grants.
Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assistance his Department is providing to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees for its voluntary return programme for the repatriation of Liberian refugees. 
Hilary Benn: DFID has recently provided a grant of £1.1 million to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in support of its programme to facilitate voluntary return of Liberian refugees from neighbouring countries. DFID funds are helping provide non-food items, transport capacity, road repairs and protection assistance. DFID has also provided £1 million to the World Food Programme to support the distribution of food rations to returning refugees, and a further £3 million to various agencies and NGOs to reactivate services and livelihoods in areas to which refugees are returning.
Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what estimate his Department has made of the number of Liberian refugees in West Africa. 
Hilary Benn: DFID relies mainly on data from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, who reports that there are currently 257,000 Liberian refugees registered in camps across West Africa: 42,000 in Ghana, 52,500 in Sierra Leone, 74,000 in Co(r)te d'Ivoire, 1,000 in the Gambia, and 87,500 in Guinea. These figures take into account recent voluntary facilitated returns of nearly 7,000 refugees from neighbouring countries, but may not take into account unofficial spontaneous repatriation. In addition, up to 75,000 Liberian refugees are estimated to reside outside formal refugee camps in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Nigeria.
Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment his Department has made of projects aimed at diversifying the agricultural sector of the economy of Malawi; and if he will make a statement. 
DFID has supported studies, programmes and organisations in Malawi that have contributed to the development of Malawi's economic
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growth strategy and more productive agriculture. Over time, these will lead to a re-balancing of the economy and of crop production.
Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment his Department has made of the need to diversify the agricultural sector of the economy of Malawi away from tobacco farming; and if he will make a statement. 
Hilary Benn: Tobacco contributes 60 per cent. of Malawi's export earnings. It is produced increasingly by smallholders who make up 80 per cent. of the population. Furthermore, Malawi is one of the poorest countries in the world and the Government of Malawi is naturally cautious about the risks of premature diversification out of tobacco. DFID knows of no evidence to suggest that there are alternative crops that are high value and low volume and therefore appropriate for export from a landlocked country and whose production could be scaled up rapidly under present circumstances in Malawi to replace tobacco in the short to medium term.
However, if the Malawi Government's policies for promoting economic growth are successful, we expect agriculture to contribute significantly less to national income in the longer term and more emphasis to be placed in agriculture on the regional trade in food staples. Changes in international trade policies could facilitate this diversification.
Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development when he last met Mr. Nelson Mandela; and what matters were discussed. 
Hilary Benn: I met with Nelson Mandela on 3 February 2005 with the min Minister and Chancellor of Exchequer. We discussed the Africa and the G8 and how we can achieve our objectives on aid, debt relief and trade.
Clare Short: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what plans he has to modify his Department's development programme in Nepal following King Gyanendra's recent actions in the country; what assessment he has made of allegations of misuse of development funds by the Royal Nepal Army; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Gareth Thomas: DFID has been monitoring recent developments in Nepal closely and with considerable concern.
The criteria for reviewing the DFID programme in Nepal will remain clearly focused on an assessment of continued effectiveness and capacity to support pro-poor development and on the safety and security of staff.
DFID will monitor the situation over the coming weeks, do all we can to maintain respect for unhindered access by poor communities to development assistance and assess changes in the operating environment over this period.
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For the time being, DFID will continue those programmes that operate through non-government channels, where we assess it is safe to do so. We have placed under immediate review, our programmes which operate through governmental channels, in order to assess, case by case, whether they can now be expected to deliver the poverty reduction benefits anticipated at the time of their approval.
Over a slightly longer timeframe, we will also undertake a comprehensive review of the programme, to decide on a balance of aid instruments, funding channels and resource allocations that is appropriate under the new circumstances.
I am not aware of any systematic or orchestrated misuse of development funds by the Royal Nepalese Army.
Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development (1) what measures his Department supports to improve the effectiveness of the New Partnership for Africa's Development peer review mechanism; 
(2) what assessment he has made of the New Partnership for Africa's Development peer review mechanism. 
Hilary Benn: The New Partnership for African Development's (NEPAD) African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) is a promising initiative to improve governance in Africa. DFID is ready to support the APRM Trust Fund when it is up and running. This will facilitate the work of the APRM secretariat and their engagement with country peer reviews. DFID has contributed £160,000 to Ghana and £300,000 to Rwanda to support the APRM in these two countries. The initiative is still in its early stages and it is too early to assess effectiveness.
Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what discussions he has had with (a) the African Union (AU), (b) the South African Government and (c) the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) concerning the possible incorporation of NEPAD into the AU structure. 
Hilary Benn: In July 2004 at the African Union (AU) Summit, the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) was legally and administratively incorporated into the AU, changing the name to AU-NEPAD. Prior to this and subsequently, DFID officials have regularly discussed related issues with the AU, South African Government and NEPAD.
Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment he has made of the effects of incorporating into the African Union the New Partnership for Africa's Development. 
We support the incorporation of the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) into the African Union (AU) as a means of ensuring coordination of these important initiatives. It is too early to make an assessment of how effective this will be in practice.
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