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10 Nov 2005 : Column 746W—continued


Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps he is taking to assist the tackling of terrorism in Israel and Palestine. [25904]

Dr. Howells: We continue to call upon the Palestinian Authority (PA) to take action against those who commit terrorist acts. Following the suicide bombing in Hadera on 26 October we continue to urge the Palestinians to make progress in meeting their commitments on security under the roadmap and the Sharm al-Shaikh agreement. I recently discussed the security situation with the Palestinians during my visit to the region on 27–30 September.

We continue to work closely with the US Security Co-ordinator General Ward to help the PA build its capacity on security. We have taken the lead in the EU Co-ordinating Office for Palestinian Police (EUCOPPS), which is helping to improve Palestinian police effectiveness in delivering law and order.


Mr. MacShane: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what meetings ministers have held with representatives of the MaldiveIslands Government in respect of Mohamed Nasheed. [25830]

Dr. Howells: Ministers have not held any meetings with the Government of the Maldives on this subject. The British High Commission in Colombo, accredited to the Maldives, is monitoring Mohamed Nasheed's trial closely. The High Commissioner has raised our concerns about the trial with the Government of the Maldives on several occasions.
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Mr. Streeter: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what action he is taking to bring pressure on the Government of the Maldives to ensure that Mohammed Nasheed receives a fair trial. [25929]

Dr. Howells: The Government monitors developments in the Maldives closely, and we have a regular dialogue with the Government of the Maldives about their democratic and human rights obligations.

Following the disturbances in August during which Mohammed Nasheed was arrested, the British High Commission in Colombo led an EU fact-finding mission to the Maldives, meeting Government Ministers, officials and detainees, including Mohammed Nasheed. On 2 September, the EU issued a statement that reiterated to the Maldivian authorities their responsibility to uphold the right of political parties to meet freely and to carry out peaceful political activities. It also underlined that it was essential for the fundamental rights of all detainees to be upheld and for the Maldivian authorities to ensure due process in the trial of Nasheed and others. The statement underlined that trials would come under close scrutiny.

The High Commission in Colombo has since raised these issues regularly at a senior level with the Government of the Maldives. The High Commissioner did so on 26 September with President Gayoom and on 31 October with Foreign Minister Dr. Ahmed Shaheed. The Deputy High Commissioner also raised these issues with Foreign Minister Shaheed on 27 October following Mr. Nasheed's first court appearance.

We will continue to monitor events closely and make our concerns known. On 8 November I met with senior colleagues of Mr. Nasheed from the Maldivian Democratic Party to hear their views.


Daniel Kawczynski: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he has extended his congratulations to the newly elected (a) Prime Minister and (b) President of Poland. [26069]

Mr. Douglas Alexander: No, it is my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister who has congratulated the new Polish Prime Minister and President. I have, however, congratulated the new Polish Foreign Minister and look forward to working with him and the rest of the new Polish Government in developing the excellent relations that exist between our two countries.

Sub-Saharan Africa

Emily Thornberry: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many of the UK missions in sub-Saharan Africa get their water and sanitation services through (a) piped networks and (b) tankers or other non-network providers. [25759]

Mr. Straw: Of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's 29 posts in sub-Saharan Africa, 17 receive both their water and sewerage services through mains piped networks from local utility companies. Unreliable or non-existent mains water supply at many missions necessitates that tanks are used for storage, and replenished by tankers, or from our own boreholes.
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Similarly the lack of main sewers requires some posts to use septic tanks or other private arrangements, some of which require emptying by tankers.

Emily Thornberry: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations UK missions in sub-Saharan Africa have made to their host Governments in 2005 on improving water and sanitation services for the population of the country concerned. [25760]

Mr. Straw: Through the Department for International Development, UK missions are actively engaged in policy dialogue with host Governments about improving water and sanitation services for the poor in 12 African countries: Ethiopia; Nigeria; Sudan; Democratic Republic of Congo; Ghana; Sierra Leone; Tanzania; Uganda; Rwanda; Zambia; Mozambique; and Malawi.

In March this year, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for International Development (Hilary Benn) announced a doubling of funding over the next three years for improvements to water and sanitation in Africa: up to at least £95 million in 2007–08.


Mike Penning: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on Darfur. [25319]

Ian Pearson: We remain seriously concerned about the situation in Darfur. In his latest report on Darfur, the UN Secretary-General noted a deterioration in the security situation in September and stated that attacks have increased in cruelty and violence. All parties, except the Justice and Equality Movement, were responsible for ceasefire violations. But banditry remains the greatest cause of insecurity, accompanied by frequent harassment and assaults on humanitarian aid workers. The UN Secretary-General stated that, despite this, a greater number of people requiring humanitarian assistance are being reached by UN agencies and non-governmental organisations, who are increasingly and consistently supporting vulnerable people and remote communities. These agencies are doing an excellent job in difficult and often dangerous circumstances.

This increase in violence, and particularly attacks on humanitarian workers, are entirely unacceptable. We are encouraging anyone with information on the perpetrators to pass it to the relevant bodies for consideration under United Nations Security Council Resolutions 1591 and 1593. We continue to press the parties to rein in their fighters and to reach a political agreement in Abuja when talks reconvene on 21 November. We continue to provide practical assistance to the African Union's monitoring mission in Darfur.

Travellers (Advice)

Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreignand Commonwealth Affairs what advice to travellers to (a) the United States, (b) Israel and (c) Bali was being issued on the Foreign Office website in September. [25741]

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Dr. Howells: Foreign and Commonwealth Office travel advice is constantly updated. In September 2005 the travel advice for the United States was updated 28 times, for Israel and the Occupied Territories three times and for Indonesia three times.

United States

The travel advice was updated 28 times to reflect changes due to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. There were no other amendments other than for this reason.

Israel and the Occupied Territories

The travel advice was updated on 6 September to reflect an explosion on 5 September in Gaza City that killed four and injured at least 20 others and an update of the disengagement of settlers from the Gaza Strip and parts of the West Bank. The travel advice was updated again on 7 September to reflect the murder of Mousa Arafat, and to advise that the security situation in Gaza may deteriorate further. The travel advice was updated again on 13 September to advise against all but essential travel to Gaza City and against all travel to Gaza City at night, including overnight stays.


The travel advice was updated on 6 September with minor amendments including one concerning the Indonesian police campaign against illegal drug use. The travel advice was further amended on 21 September with further information about avian influenza, in particular Ragunan Zoo in Jakarta was closed on 19 September after bird flu was detected in caged birds. The travel advice was updated again on 29 September with details of large public demonstrations that were being planned in Jakarta and other cities in Indonesia to protest against fuel shortages and fuel price rises which were to take effect on 1 October.

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