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Mr. Gareth Thomas: DFID supports a sizeable programme of global mine action, including direct funding of mine clearance. DFID provides funding for global action to the United Nations Mine Action Service, the United Nations Development Programme and the Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining.
In Cambodia, in the past three years, DFID has provided more than £1 million to support the mine clearance efforts of the HALO Trust and the Mines Advisory Group, and some £500,000 to the Cambodian Mine Action Centre for demining projects. We recently approved a further grant to the Mines Advisory Group of £378,156 for technical survey work and are considering further funding support to the HALO Trust and Cambodian Mine Action Centre.
Mr. Keith Bradley: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development when he will reply to the letter from the hon. Member for Manchester, Withington dated 5 January 2005 about his constituent Catriona Roussel. 
Hilary Benn: The right hon. Member's letter of 2 February 2005 on behalf of Catriona Roussel was originally sent to the Foreign Secretary for reply and passed to me on 1 March. A reply was issued on 31 March.
Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what discussions (a) he, (b) members of his Department and (c) representatives of the UK Government have had with members and representatives of the Government of (i) the United States of America and (ii) Cuba regarding tying Cuba's humanitarian assistance to South and Central American countries into a multilateral approach to humanitarian aid between the EU, the US and Cuba; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Gareth Thomas:
DFID has had no recent discussions with either the Cuban or US Government concerning Cuban humanitarian assistance to South and Central American countries, nor a multilateral approach to humanitarian aid between Cuba and the EU and US. Representatives of HMG have had wide-ranging discussions with the Cuban authorities, including on their relations with South and Central American countries. Cuba provides technical assistance to a number of countries in the region, most notably Venezuela, but no assessment of its effectiveness has been shared by the Cuban Government or been made independently. Following Hurricane Ivan DFID contributed £50,000 to Cuba through the Regional Appeal of the International Federation of the Red Cross. The Regional Appeal included the provision of shelter and non-food relief for affected families.
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Mr. Brazier: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment he has made of the role of livestock in the rebuilding of the rural economy of Darfur, with particular reference to working animals. 
Hilary Benn [holding answer 24 March 2005]: Animal husbandry is dominant in the rural economy of much of Darfur. Animals are raised for sale outside the state, traded and consumed locally, used as beasts of burden and, less frequently, to provide traction for farm equipment. So livestock is central to prospects for economic recovery in the state.
In Darfur, DFID support includes £1 million to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), who provide veterinarian support for livestock. This includes the provision of feed and health care to donkeys, small ruminants, and chickens both in camps and outside. In addition the programme includes provision for the training of community animal health monitors. We are continuing DFID support of these projects into the next financial year 200506 through a $4.5 million (approximately £2.3 million) contribution to the FAO under the UN Workplan.
However, before there can be any economic progress in Darfur, either livestock-based or otherwise, there will need to be an end to the conflict. The crisis in Darfur is caused by the conflict between the Darfur rebels and the Sudanese Government and can end only through a political, negotiated settlement in line with the Comprehensive Peace Agreement signed in January this year.
The UK is pressing all parties to abide and implement the ceasefire and humanitarian and security protocols which they have signed, and is supporting the on-going African Union-mediated Abuja Peace Talks. DFID has also provided £14 million in support to the African Union observer mission that is there to monitor the ceasefire agreement.
Mr. Brazier: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what the UN's current estimate is of the level of unmet requirements for its work on emergency assistance for agriculture and livestock in Greater Darfur. 
Hilary Benn [holding answer 24 March 2005]: The latest UN's Humanitarian Needs Profile covers a conflict affected population of 2.1 million people and indicates that 93 per cent. of this population is not receiving assistance for agriculture and livestock.
This gap is explained by the fact that funding is prioritised against immediate needs such as food, water, primary health care, and sanitation. In Darfur, assistance towards medium-term concerns is compromised by the scale of emergency needs and the degree of armed insecurity on the ground.
The poor security situation hampers access to arable land and progress on community development programmes. These include agricultural and livestock assistance. The situation is further exacerbated by the onset of severe drought in the region, with the most immediate concern being the provision of food.
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To this end, of the £70 million in humanitarian assistance that the UK is providing to Sudan for the financial year 200506, £40 million is being channelled through the UN Workplan which is being disbursed based on recommendations by the UN Humanitarian Co-ordinator for Sudan. 59 per cent. of the Workplan is for food aid in Darfur.
In the long-term, it is only through a political process to which both sides are committed that the situation in Darfur can be resolved and crucial assistance given towards key needs, including the re-development of agriculture and livestock.
Mr. Brazier: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development (1) what assurances he sought from the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation that they were capable of implementing the project proposals outlined in Emergency Assistance (agriculture and livestock) to vulnerable households in the Greater Darfur region of Sudan before awarding a grant for this work; and what steps he has taken to ensure the aid reaches the intended beneficiaries; 
(2) what assessment he has made of whether (a) veterinary equipment, (b) medicine and vaccines and (c) food and fodder detailed in the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation project documentation has been (i) purchased and (ii) applied where it was required. 
Hilary Benn [holding answer 24 March 2005]: The UN Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) undertakes the implementation of its Emergency Assistance Programme through International Non-Governmental Organisations (INGOs). The FAO has been in Darfur for four years, but has worked previously with its implementing partners in other areas of Sudan. As such they have built up a good professional relationship based on mutual trust and responsibility. From previous reporting by the UN, as well as from my officials following monitoring visits and discussions within Sudan, I have confidence in the FAO's capability to implement their project proposals in this very difficult environment.
The UK has already funded the FAO project 'Emergency Assistance (Agriculture and Livestock)' with a contribution of £1 million (200405). This was agreed on the basis of in-depth dialogue with the FAO in Sudan. DFID has supplemented this with an additional contribution of $4.5million (£2.3 million) to the FAO, as part of DFID's contributions to the UN Workplan. Timely disbursements of funds are of especial importance to the FAO, as it needs to plan ahead so it has inputs available at the key points in the agricultural calendar.
This year DFID is piloting in Sudan some of the reforms to the International System that I have proposed on humanitarian reform supported by the Organisation for Co-ordination Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), notably empowering the UN Humanitarian Co-ordinator (UNHC). The aim is for the UNHC to take the lead on responsibility for needs assessments, planning, and resource allocation. DFID funding to UN agencies this year is being channelled through the UNHC who is responsible for allocating funds to UN
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agencies against priority needs. This most recent FAO contribution from-DFID (of $4.5million) forms part of his prioritised allocations for the first tranche of money (£14 million) we have made available.
In the Emergency Assistance project cereal seed is being procured locally (59.5 metric tons), some of which has already been delivered. The FAO is responsible for delivering the seed to the three regional capitals of the Darfur region where it is handed over to the INGOs. INGOs have identified a number of specific vulnerable groups totalling 261,000 families who have access to land at the moment. This equates to over 1,000,000 direct beneficiaries. These INGOs are then responsible for delivering directly to the families.
Overall monitoring and evaluation is the responsibility of the FAO who have to ensure appropriate performance of their implementing INGO partners. Co-ordination of these activities is carried out by the Food Security Co-ordination meeting, which is held bi-weekly in each of the Darfur regional capitals. The FAO will be reporting on their performance this year to both DFID and the UNHC. In addition, through DFID's humanitarian and livelihoods advisers in Khartoum and London, we will be undertaking monitoring of this programme during the course of this year.
The FAO has stressed that there still remains a considerable shortfall in the amount of seed required (855MT), but there still remains sufficient time to purchase and distribute as the rains will not be expected until a further two months.
This has been purchased in Sudan and distributed to the three Darfur capitals. The equipment is dispatched to the INGOs who then distribute it to selected Community Animal Health Workers (CAHW). This cadre of staff has been selected by the community and trained by the INGOs. They are paid a small stipend by the INGO which is reimbursed by the FAO. Again, all activities are monitored and evaluated by the INGOs. Pertinent issues can and are raised in community dialogue in formal and informal manner.
The FAO has a Letter of Agreement (LOA) with each of its INGOs to purchase fodder in the local market. The implementing partner then agrees a sub-contract with a private contractor to deliver the fodder to them, which is then distributed direct to the beneficiaries and again monitored by the CAHW. This component is strongly linked to issues on protection. Women are usually required to go out and gather fodder, but have been subject to rape and violence when moving outside of camps. This intervention will help to minimise the risk.
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