Previous Section Index Home Page

17 Nov 2005 : Column 1395W—continued

Colombian Refugees

Pete Wishart: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment his Department has made of the number of Colombians (a) internally displaced and (b) seeking refuge in neighbouring countries in each year since 2001; and if he will make a statement. [29001]

17 Nov 2005 : Column 1396W

Mr. Thomas: DFID relies on statistics compiled by other organisations rather than its own assessment of internally displaced persons in Colombia and those seeking refuge in neighbouring countries. It is difficult to establish totally accurate statistics in each year since 2001.

According to the Colombian Government, an estimated 1,148,000 people were internally displaced over the period 2000–03. The Colombian non-government organisation (NGO), Consultancy for Human Rights and Development (CODHES) reports 1,247,000 internally displaced persons over the same period. CODHES reported some 287,500 displacements in 2004, and have reported increasing numbers in the first six months of 2005. According to Government figures, the total number of internally displaced people (IDPs) in Colombia is 1.6 million as of June 2005. Unofficial estimates suggest the actual number could be over 3,400,000.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees estimates that there are currently 280,000 displaced Colombians in Ecuador (30,000 refugee and asylum seekers), 101,500 in Panama (1,500 refugee and asylum seekers) and 274,000 in Venezuela (4,000 refugee and asylum seekers).

Departmental Assets

Mike Penning: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if he will list the 10 most valuable (a) movable and (b) immovable assets owned by his Department. [27387]

Mr. Thomas: The list of DFID's 10 most valuable assets recorded in the departments asset register, underpinning our 2004–05 resource accounts balance sheet are:
ImmovableNet book value (£000)
1. Palace Street, HQ27,668
2. Abercrombie House, HQ7,830
3. Overseas Property, India605
4. Overseas Property, Bangladesh368
5. Overseas Properties, Malawi323
6. 20 Victoria Street, HQ306
7. Overseas property, Zimbabwe201
8. Overseas property, Zimbabwe198
9. Overseas property, Rwanda186
10. Overseas property, Zimbabwe148

MovableNet book value (£000)
1. Caris System309
2. PABX Switch111
3. Armoured Vehicle106
4. Generator and Cabling98
5. Air Condition Plant Carrier87
6. Armoured Vehicle80
7. Infozone, Palace Street79
8. Armoured Land cruiser71
9. LAN68
10. Generators51

Disaster Relief

Pete Wishart: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment his Department has made of the World Food Programme's
17 Nov 2005 : Column 1397W
(WFP) work with regards to the (a) Asian tsunami disaster and (b) the earthquake in Pakistan; and if he will make a statement. [28999]

Mr. Thomas: The World Food Programme's (WFP) early intervention in tsunami-affected countries is considered to have contributed significantly to the improvement of the humanitarian situation. The scale of the disaster posed particular challenges in terms of assessment of food needs. In the early stages of the response, the WFP adopted an appropriately broad approach to food distribution.

As host to the common logistics services, the United Nations Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS) and United Nations Joint Logistics Service (UNJLC), the WFP also played an important role in underpinning the UN's logistical operation. Early inefficiencies with the UNHAS operation were eventually ironed out, and the UNJLC is considered to have performed adequately in a complex operating environment. On behalf of the Government of Indonesia, other agencies and non-government organisations (NGO)s, the WFP launched an unprecedented non-food logistical operation to deliver 600,000 metric tonnes of reconstruction supplies to Aceh and Nias, being funded from the multi-donor trust fund for Aceh and North Sumatra.

DFID support to the WFP (including UNHAS and UNJLC) in the tsunami response amounted to £3.5 million in Indonesia and Sri Lanka, with the further contribution of five helicopters and a fuel farm to support operations in Indonesia.

Following the South Asia earthquake, the World Food Programme deployed to the field quickly and has since been distributing food to the affected population through a variety of channels. Although they face challenges including extensive logistics and access constraints, the WFP's ongoing food distributions, in support of the Government of Pakistan activities in this sector, are an important humanitarian intervention for the affected population.

The WFP is also host to the common services, the UNHAS and the UN Joint Logistics Centre (UNJLC), and is providing a special operation for common logistics services including portable storage units and common trucking for the International Community.

To date, DFID has provided financial and in-kind support to the WFP common services operation totalling £3.1 million to date. In addition, the UK Government have deployed three RAF Chinook helicopters in support of the UNHAS operation.

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if he will ensure that it is a condition of the aid provided that public buildings being rebuilt in Pakistan using UK aid are earthquake-proof. [28636]

Hilary Benn: Good building codes exist in Pakistan. The challenge is how these are carried through into practice. DFID has also funded research into building codes and post-earthquake reconstruction recommendations. DFID incorporates work on building codes and building code implementation within a broader approach to Disaster Risk Reduction, which seeks to reduce the vulnerability and increase the disaster preparedness of
17 Nov 2005 : Column 1398W
poor people and Governments. In Pakistan, DFID is an invited member of the Steering Group helping to advise the Pakistan Government's Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Authority (ERRA). This includes encouraging appropriate design for reconstructing public buildings in affected areas and improving the knowledge of building codes for engineers, contractors and planners involved in post-earthquake reconstruction.

Buildings can only be made earthquake-resistant, not earthquake-proof, even with very significant expenditure. Good implementation consists of appropriate design and construction based on the seismic risk.

Engineering Students

Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development which countries sponsored engineering students through the British Council Education UK partnership in the last year for which figures are available; what the total budget allocated to (a) all training and (b) engineering-based training was; and what the (i) titles and (ii) length of the engineering courses undertaken were. [26775]

Mr. Thomas: The information supplied by the British Council notes that the Education UK Partnership is a membership organisation, comprising 252 UK education institutions i.e. universities, colleges, independent colleges and schools and the British Council. The programme provides marketing services in 18 countries, which support the partners' individual marketing, recruitment and related strategies. Data is held at each individual higher institution and is not readily available from the institutions themselves.

Nevertheless, using the information from the British Council, DFID has extracted some available data on overseas engineering and technology students studying in the UK. This information is for the year 2003–04 and the total number of engineering and technology students studying in the UK was 39,575 and were from 192 developing and developed countries of which, 3910 were from China, 3000 from Greece, 2515 from Malaysia, 2320 from India and 1480 from France.

The total number of overseas students with no award or financial backing was 22,535.

Further information of this scheme is available from the British Council.


Pete Wishart: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment his Department has made of the change in the incidence of HIV/AIDS cases in Eastern Europe; what projects to address this issue his Department has (a) set up and (b) funded in each year since 2001; and if he will make a statement. [29000]

Mr. Thomas: DFID does not make independent assessments of HIV and AIDS but supports the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) in their assessments of the progress of the epidemic globally, including in Eastern Europe and the wider Europe and Central Asia region. At a country-level, DFID is involved in supporting governments to strengthen
17 Nov 2005 : Column 1399W
national surveillance and data collection systems to ensure better and more accurate information on the patterns of the epidemic.

In Eastern Europe, DFID has been funding a regional HIV and AIDS project since 2003. This is a three-year project operating in Serbia and Montenegro with a total investment of £1.5 million. The project is working with relevant government ministries to develop national HIV strategies for the prevention, treatment and care of vulnerable populations, while at the same time supporting non-governmental organisations (NGO)s and civil societies to set up demonstration projects with drug users and sex workers. National research institutes are also being supported to develop evidence to show the feasibility and acceptability of effective HIV prevention activities. Lessons from the project are being disseminated to other countries.

DFID recognises that the Europe and Central Asia region has one of the fastest growing HIV epidemics globally and that regional action is urgently needed to tackle this. To this end, DFID is also working with governments and regional partners in Russia, Ukraine and Central Asia to address HIV and AIDS.

Next Section Index Home Page