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Development Assistance

Tom Brake: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development which countries he expects will cease to receive development assistance from the UK in each of the next five years. [215316]

Hilary Benn: On current plans, we expect that the following countries will cease to receive development assistance directly from the British Government over the next five years:

These countries will however continue to receivedevelopment assistance from the EC, other multilateral development organisations and/or British non-governmental organisations to which DFID makes substantial contributions.
 
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Disaster Planning

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development (1) what resources his Department plans to allocate to improve counter-disaster measures in the developing world; [215754]

(2) what discussions he has had with the representatives of developing countries on (a) preparing for and (b) improving their response to natural disasters; [215755]

(3) what assessment he has made of the views of the UN head of humanitarian affairs on disaster prevention and preparedness; [215756]

(4) if he will increase funding for disaster reduction. [215757]

Hilary Benn: DFID is already funding significant disaster risk reduction programmes in countries particularly susceptible to natural disasters, including India where we are providing over £60 million on disaster preparedness and reconstruction in Orissa over six years. DFID is the leading donor to the UN's International Strategy for Disaster Reduction at £1 million a year. We are also supporting other international organisations' efforts in this area including the International Federation of Red Cross and Crescent Societies and the Prevention Consortium Initiative.

We aim to increase our spending on disaster risk reduction. Where practical, we will allocate up to 10 per cent. of each natural disaster response to mitigate the impact of future disasters. We also plan to develop a strategy to set out how we can best make further progress in this sector.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for International Development held discussions with the UN Under Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs at the Kobe Conference on 18 January 2005. We are pleased that Mr. Egeland is committed to pressing forward UN reform in this area and we are working closely with him and other interested donors to progress this.

The UK Delegation, led by the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for International Development, discussed disaster risk reduction with a number of developing countries at the World Conference on Disaster Reduction, including those most affected by the Indian Ocean tsunami. We stressed the importance of disaster risk reduction and encouraged the inclusion of disaster risk reduction measures, where appropriate, in countries' poverty reduction strategies.

EC Aid

Mr. Hayes: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development pursuant to the oral answer of 15 December 2004, Official Report, column 1654, on the European Union budget, if he will make a statement on the statistical evidence supporting the statement that repatriation of EC aid would lead to lower levels of development assistance worldwide. [207117]

Mr. Gareth Thomas: Member state contributions to European Commission development programmes are an annual, legally binding treaty obligation. There is no guarantee that in the event of repatriation, other
 
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member states and governments would maintain their previous level of development spend. Globally, the level of aid volumes could therefore fall.

As important is that working with the EC is an effective way to leverage more resources for development. EC aid equals 10 per cent. of world overseas development assistance and the member states of the European Union and the EC together provide over half of global development assistance. This collective effort has given Europe the credibility to challenge its own member states and other Development Assistance Committee (DAC) donors to increase ODA/gross national income targets and global development aid. EU co-ordination led in 2002 to a specific EU ODA/GNI volume target commitment of 0.39 per cent. by 2006 as an input to the Monterrey Financing for Development Conference. This has contributed to a considerable increase of aid resources by EU and non-EU donors in support of the Millennium Development Goals. Repatriating aid would reduce the UK's and EU's leverage to help secure such increases.

Eritrea

Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if he will make a statement on the humanitarian situation in Eritrea. [217392]

Hilary Benn: Eritrea remains one of the poorest countries in the world. The humanitarian situation has been compounded by drought, four consecutive years of failed harvests and on-going conflict over its border with Ethiopia. The UN estimates that roughly two thirds of the population—2.2 million out of a population of 3.6 million—may need food aid assistance at some time during 2005.

The UN Consolidated Humanitarian Appeal (UN CAP) 2005 reports that global acute malnutrition (GAM) rates in 2004 peaked at 19 per cent. in Debub and 18.4 per cent. in Anseba, although rates are lower at present. Maternal malnutrition rates are thought to be among the highest in the world. The UN CAP 2005 for Eritrea is for $158 million, ($144 million of which is specifically for food aid).

Last year, DFID contributed £1 million to the UN CAP 2004 through the World Food Programme (WFP) and currently supports two humanitarian supplementary feeding programmes with the Dutch Interchurch Aid and CAFOD. DFID also funds a water project with Oxfam. The humanitarian programme for 2005 will be £3 million, an increase of £1 million for this financial year. The increase reflects the need to ensure the most urgent humanitarian needs are met in Eritrea this year.

EU Committees

Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how many times during the (a) Italian, (b) Irish and (c) Dutch Presidency of the EU the Committee on co-financing operations with European non-governmental organisations in fields of interest to the developing countries met; when and where these meetings took place; what UK Government expert was present; and if he will make a statement. [214261]


 
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Mr. Gareth Thomas: The Co-Financing Operations with European Non Governmental Organisations Committee met once under the Italian Presidency of the EU, on 25 November 2003. The Committee met once under the Irish Presidency on 20 21 April 2004. The committee met twice under the Dutch Presidency, on 29 September 2004 and on 23 November 2004.

All meetings took place in Brussels and were attended by an official from the Department for International Development.

I refer the hon. Gentleman to the series of Command Papers that sets out the main elements of government business in the EU under the respective Presidencies: Cm 6174 laid in April 2004, Cm 6310 laid in September 2004 and Cm 6450 laid in February 2005. These are available on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website: www.fco.gov.uk/commandpapers

Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how many times during the (a) Italian, (b) Irish and (c) Dutch Presidency of the EU the Committee on food security and food aid met; when and where these meetings took place; what UKGovernment expert was present; and if he will make a statement. [214262]

Mr. Gareth Thomas: The Food Aid and Food Security Committee met twice under the Italian Presidency of the EU, on 16 July 2003 and on 6 November 2003. The Committee did not meet under the Irish Presidency. Under the Dutch Presidency the Committee met twice; on 2 July 2004 and on 10 November 2004.

All meetings took place in Brussels and were attended by an official from the Department for International Development.

The Food Security and Food Aid Management Committee is convened and chaired by the Commission and is constituted for member states to assist the Commission with implementation of Council Regulation No 1292/96 of 27 June 1996. The EC's Food Security and Food Aid programme consists of identification, planning and implementation of food aid operations and operations in support of food security in developing countries.

Council Decision 1999/468/EC sets out to

Under this decision, the Commission undertakes to publish an annual report on the working of committees. The reports are deposited in the Libraries of both Houses.

I refer the hon. Gentleman to the series of Command Papers that sets out the main elements of Government business in the EU under the respective Presidencies: Cm6174, laid in April 2004 and Cm6310, laid in September 2004.

Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how many times during the (a) Italian, (b) Irish and (c) Dutch presidency of the EU the Committee on implementation of humanitarian
 
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aid operations met; when and where these meetings took place; what UK Government expert was present; and if he will make a statement. [215427]

Mr. Gareth Thomas: The Italian presidency of the European Union occupied the second six months of 2003. During that period the Humanitarian Aid Committee met five times, on a monthly basis with a break in August. Four meetings were held in Brussels, and one in Rome (October 2003). The Irish presidency ran for the first six months of 2004. Five meetings were held in Brussels, and one in Dublin (March 2004). The Dutch presidency occupied the second six months of 2004. Four meetings were held in Brussels, and one in the Hague (October 2004). The UK was represented by officials from DFID's Conflict and Humanitarian Affairs Department.

The Humanitarian Aid Committee operates independently of the presidency. It is convened and chaired by the Commission and is constituted for member states to assist the Commission with implementation of Council Regulation No. 1257/96 of 20 June 1996 concerning humanitarian aid. The EC's humanitarian aid programme provides assistance, relief and protection to victims of natural disasters and man-made crises in third countries, as well as preparedness for risks of natural disasters. It approves annual allocations (global plans") to countries suffering chronic humanitarian crises, as well as emergency response to disasters.

Council Decision 1999/468/EC sets out to simplify the requirements for the exercise of implementing powers conferred on the Commission". Under this Decision, the Commission undertakes to publish an annual report on the working of committees. The reports are deposited in the Libraries of both Houses.

I refer the hon. Gentleman to the series of Command Papers that sets out the main elements of government business in the EU under the respective presidencies: Cm6174, laid in April 2004 and Cm6310, laid in September 2004 refer.

Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how many times during the (a) Italian, (b) Irish and (c) Dutch presidency of the EU the Joint Committee (EEC-Co(r)te d'Ivoire) met; when and where these meetings took place; what UKGovernment expert was present; and if he will make a statement. [215428]

Mr. Gareth Thomas: DFID officials are not aware of any meetings of a Joint Committee (EEC-Co(r)te d'Ivoire) having taken place. In response to our inquiries, the European Commission was unable to recall such a Committee ever having met or what its mandate might have been.

Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how many times during the (a) Italian, (b) Irish and (c) Dutch presidencies of the EU the European Development Fund Committee met; when and where these meetings took place; what UK Government expert was present; and if he will make a statement. [215935]

Mr. Gareth Thomas: The European Development Fund (EDF) Committee met four times under the Italian presidency of the EU, in July, September,
 
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October and November 2003. The Committee met four times under the Irish presidency of the EU, in February, March, May and June 2004. The Committee met four times under the Dutch presidency, in July, September, October and November 2004.

All meetings took place in Brussels and were attended by officials from-the Department for International Development and the UK Permanent Representation in Brussels.

The EDF Committee operates independently of the presidency. It is convened and chaired by the Commission and is constituted for member states to meet with the Commission and the European Investment Bank (EIB). Its role is to scrutinise and approve financing proposals and allocation of EDFfunds, serve as a forum for the exchange of viewson country and regional strategies and approve multi-annual allocations to country and regional programmes.

Operations financed from the European Development Fund are governed by the provisions of the Partnership Agreement between the African, Caribbean and Pacific States and the European Community (ACP-EU) signed in Cotonou, Benin on 23 June 2000 (known as the Cotonou Agreement).

The 15 December 2000 Internal Agreement applicable to the Cotonou Agreement specifies that the Commission produce an annual report. This report is subject to parliamentary scrutiny in the normal manner.

I refer the hon. Gentleman to the series of Command Papers that sets out the main elements of government business in the EU under the respective presidencies: Cm6174, laid in April 2004 and Cm6310, laid in September 2004.

Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how many times during the (a) Italian, (b) Irish and (c) Dutch presidencies of the EU the Advisory Committee on the special system of assistance to traditional ACP suppliers of bananas met; when and where these meetings took place; what UKGovernment expert was present; and if he will make a statement. [215941]

Mr. Gareth Thomas: The Advisory Committee on the special system of assistance to traditional African, Caribbean and Pacific Countries (ACP) suppliers of bananas met once in November 2003 under the Dutch presidency of the EU, the Committee did not meet under the Irish presidency of the EU and met once in November 2004 under the Dutch presidency of the EU.

All meetings of this Committee took place in Brussels and were attended by officials from the Department for International Development and the UK Permanent Representation in Brussels.

The special framework of assistance (SFA) for traditional ACP suppliers of bananas provides for financial and technical assistance to 12 ACP countries, taking account of changes in the marketing arrangements for bananas in Europe following the amendments to the import regime introduced on 1 January 1999. The objective of this programme is to improve competitiveness of traditional ACP banana production. The Council regulation aims to achieve
 
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this goal by funding projects designed to increase banana productivity. Funding is also available for diversification where no opportunities for sustainable increase in banana production exists.

Council Decision 1999/468/EC sets out to simplify the requirements for the exercise of implementing powers conferred on the Commission". As an obligation to this Decision, the Commission undertakes to publish an annual report on the working of committees. The reports are deposited in the Libraries of both Houses.

I refer the hon. Gentleman to the series of Command Papers that sets out the main elements of government business in the EU under the respective presidencies: Cm6174, laid in April 2004 and Cm6310, laid in September 2004.


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