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19 Dec 2005 : Column 2500W—continued


Mr. Ancram: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the account of the situation in Zimbabwe given on 7 December by the UN Under-Secretary for Humanitarian Affairs; and what action he is proposing to take in the United Nations as a result. [37140]

Ian Pearson: We share Mr. Egeland's, United Nations (UN) Under-Secretary for Humanitarian Affairs, concern following his visit to Zimbabwe that the humanitarian situation in Zimbabwe is extremely serious and worsening". We regret that instead of accepting UN assistance, President Mugabe has chosen to vilify the UN and Mr. Egeland following that visit. The Government of Zimbabwe must shift, in the interests of all Zimbabweans, from a policy of confrontation to a policy of co-operation with the international community, including with the UN.

Mr. Egeland briefed the UN Security Council on 19 December on humanitarian issues in Africa, at which the UK raised the issue of Zimbabwe.

Geraldine Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what measures his Department is taking both bilaterally and within international organisations to support the movement for democratic change in Zimbabwe. [37310]

Ian Pearson: The Government does not support any political party in Zimbabwe. We do support all those working for peaceful democratic change, including non-governmental organisations, human rights activists, lawyers and civil society groups. We also work closely with the United Nations and our international partners to address the political and economic crisis in Zimbabwe, to help provide for Zimbabweans' basic needs such as food and healthcare, and to help restore
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democratic norms, including the rule of law, human rights, freedom of speech, freedom of association, an independent media, and Government accountability.


Asian Tsunami

Mr. Ancram: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development whether the commitment by the Foreign Secretary of 3 January 2005 that the Government would match those funds donated by the public to the Asian tsunami fund has been honoured in full; and how the Government's matched funds have been spent. [38289]

Mr. Thomas: The UK Government have allocated the equivalent of around £290 million to disaster relief and reconstruction in the Tsunami-affected countries. Funds donated by the public to the Disasters Emergency Committee have totalled some £450 million.

Government funding can be broken down into:

DFID has provided two consultants to work with the authorities and partners in Aceh Indonesia.

Reconstruction will take many years to complete and funds will be programmed accordingly. The priority now is to ensure that funds already committed by the UK and other donors are effectively spent. The Government are working closely with the governments of Indonesia and Sri Lanka on the longer-term reconstruction effort. The UK Government will not provide financing in excess of need. The Government will continue to keep under review the financing needs of the tsunami-affected countries.

Biosafety Protocol

Greg Mulholland: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what representations he has made to the United Nations about the application of the Biosafety Protocol to biotechnology companies whose products may cause environmental damage. [38215]

Mr. Thomas: Neither myself nor my right. hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for International Development (Hilary Benn) have made any representations to the United Nations of this kind.
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The Biosafety Protocol is an international treaty, which applies to countries that have signed and ratified it. Parties to the Protocol may introduce national legislation which relates to the activities of biotechnology companies in their countries.

The UK, in line with the European Union (EU), has implemented the Biosafety Protocol within its domestic legislation and this legislation applies to companies which operate within the EU.

Greg Mulholland: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what representations he has made to (a) the United States, (b) Argentina and (c) Canada regarding their ratification of the Biosafety Protocol. [38756]

Mr. Morley: I have been asked to reply.

We have regular contacts with the US, Canadian and Argentinean Administrations on a wide range of international environmental issues, including the importance of having the broadest possible membership of Cartagena Protocol. Officials have, for example, recently been in touch with their counterparts in Argentina to explore their latest plans to ratify the Protocol. The Government's view is that we need to encourage more countries to ratify the Protocol, especially major agricultural exporters, such as the United States, Canada and Argentina. If agricultural exporters fail to sign up to the Protocol, the global status of GM products approved in those countries that have not signed the Protocol will be uncertain, and confidence in the safety of the products of new biotechnology will suffer.


Greg Mulholland: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment he has made of the effects of Soya planting in Brazil on local communities in Parana. [38366]

Mr. Thomas: DFID has not made any assessment of the effects of Soya planting on local communities in Parana. Parana is a small state in the south of Brazil. DFID's programme has focused on the poorest areas of the country, particularly the North and Northeast, and on national level initiatives.

The rural economy in Parana is characterised by small family-run farms. Soya cultivation, on the other hand, is generally highly mechanised and managed by wealthy large scale producers. A switch to Soya production could therefore lead to an increase in rural unemployment and further migration to urban areas.


Mr. Joyce: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what support the UK has provided to the demobilisation process in Burundi. [35703]

Hilary Benn: The UK is a major contributor to the Multi-Country Demobilisation and Re-integration Programme (MDRP), a World Bank-managed regional programme which provides the framework for demobilisation and re-integration activities in the Great Lakes Region, including Burundi. We have committed $25 million to the MDRP and have funded a number of
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complementary activities in Burundi. To date, over 19,458 combatants, including child soldiers, have been demobilised.

Central Asia (Aid)

Mr. Hands: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what plans he has for UK bilateral aid to (a) Tajikistan and (b) Kyrgzystan between 2005–06 and 2007–08. [38565]

Mr. Thomas: In 2005–06, DFID has committed £3 million to Tajikistan and £5.6 million to the Kyrgyz Republic in bilateral aid. In addition, we have agreed a £7 million contribution to a 5 year multi-donor programme of support to the health sector in the Kyrgyz Republic, the first £3 million of which we hope to disburse in 2005–06. We have also committed £6.4 million to a regional programme to combat HIV/AIDS in Tajikistan, the Kyrgyz Republic and Uzbekistan between 2005–06 and 2008–09. This includes £1.8 million in bilateral support to each country and a £1 million contribution to a World Bank regional project.

DFID has not yet finalised bilateral aid allocations for 2006–07 and 2007–08. We plan to increase our allocations to Tajikistan and the Kyrgyz Republic, which are the two poorest countries in Central Asia. We have strengthened the DFID office in the Kyrgyz Republic and are doing so in Tajikistan, to enable us to engage more effectively with governments and donors and to increase the scope and impact of our programmes.

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