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Horn of Africa

Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment his Department has made of the food situation in the Horn of Africa. [42213]

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Hilary Benn: Poor rains in much of the Horn of Africa at the end of 2005 have left many communities who are dependent on farming and raising livestock in serious difficulties. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation has issued a report saying that as many as 11 million people in Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya and Djibouti may require assistance in 2006. The severe food shortages in parts of these countries is sadly not a new phenomenon, and DFID has been responding with humanitarian assistance for many years. We are aware of the particular threat this year, the possibility that the current crisis may deepen, and that other areas may come to be affected.

DFID humanitarian advisers visited the worst affected areas in Kenya in November 2005, and visits to Somalia and Ethiopia are planned for early 2006.

This month DFID contributed £1 million to the World Food Programme for Somalia on top of the over £5 million we spent there on humanitarian interventions in 2005. This includes a number of health and nutrition operations in the worst affected parts of Southern Somalia.

In Ethiopia DFID made a commitment of £43 million in March 2005 to the cash and food aid based Productive Safety Net programme. This programme provides assistance to some of the poorest communities in Ethiopia. In December 2005 we announced a further £2.7 million for Kenya in response to the situation there.

DFID will continue to monitor the situation closely and we stand ready to provide additional support if necessary.

Hurricane Ivan

Greg Mulholland: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what recent discussions he has had with representatives of (a) the Government of Grenada and (b) the Government of the Cayman Islands concerning reconstruction efforts following Hurricane Ivan; and what funding his Department has (i) committed to these efforts and (ii) made available todate. [42129]

Mr. Thomas: Since Hurricane Ivan, DFID has remained closely engaged with the Government of Grenada. By December 2004, DFID had committed and fully disbursed £6.5 million of emergency assistance: £1 million was provided as emergency humanitarian support through partner agencies; £5.5 million was provided as emergency financial aid to help the Government meet their public sector salary obligations. In 2005, DFID committed a total of £325,000 to provide consultancy support in the forestry sector, a chartered surveyor to assess the damage done to the Governor-General's compound and the Parliament Buildings. With the US Agency for International Development, DFID co-financed debt advisers to develop proposals for the restructuring of Grenada's debt. In addition, our share of the European Commission humanitarian support and additional reconstruction funds was £1.18 million.

Most recently, both my right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for International Development and the Prime Minister, met Prime Minister Keith Mitchell in the lead up to and during the Commonwealth Heads
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of Government meeting in Malta in November. During a meeting with Prime Minister Mitchell in May 2005, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State made it clear that DFID recognised the continuing reconstruction challenges facing Grenada, and he made a commitment that DFID would review the case for additional budget support to Grenada.

In November 2005, following the Government of Grenada's successful debt exchange offer to creditors and their work on a home-grown economic reform programme, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) judged the financing gap for 2005 to have been reduced to a limited and manageable level of about 1 per cent. of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Given this relative success we have decided not to offer further emergency financial aid to the Government of Grenada before March 2006. However, we remain open to the IMF's projections that the financial gap may widen dramatically in the next financial year and for a number of years after that, as the current construction industry boom subsides. We will continue to keep the situation under close review.

DFID provided some £250,000 to Cayman Islands for emergency supplies and services in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Ivan. We have not provided specific assistance for reconstruction. We understand, however, that the European Union is considering a request from the Cayman Islands Government for support to rebuild homes. DFID's focus has been aimed at improving and strengthening disaster preparedness in all UK Overseas Territories in the region. In the Cayman Islands, we also funded a study of the impact of Hurricane Ivan to help learn from the Cayman Islands' experience of handling the emergency.


Dr. Starkey: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how much funding his Department has provided for projects in Jordan in each of the last five years; and how much such funding is planned for the 2005–06 financial year. [41178]

Hilary Benn: Jordan is now a middle income country that receives relatively large amounts of donor funding in relation to its levels of poverty. DFID has provided bilateral funding in the form of technical co-operation (i.e. support for projects) as well as other types of bilateral funding such as humanitarian assistance and debt relief. DFID's bilateral programme with Jordan closed in September 2005. DFID also provided funding to Jordan through our contributions to multilateral organisations including the EC and the World Bank, which we will continue to do.

Total bilateral programme

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DFID is planning to provide £1.6 million in bilateral assistance to Jordan in 2005–06.

Lawful Activities

Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what activities which were lawful before 1 May 2001 have since been made unlawful by legislation introduced by his Department; and if he will make a statement. [41636]

Hilary Benn: The only legislation introduced by DFID since 1 May 2002 was the International Development Act 2002, which put furthering poverty reduction at the heart of the Secretary of State's statutory powers. Subject to this overarching objective, as defined by the Act, it did not outlaw any specific activities. The restriction in the Act over how funds voted by Parliament can be used means, for example, that aid cannot be tied to the purchase of British goods and services.

Palestinian Authority

Mr. Fabian Hamilton: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what support his Department is giving to the Palestinian Authority (a) to ensure the efficient running of the forthcoming elections and (b) to reconstruct Gaza. [41934]

Hilary Benn: The European Union (EU) has committed €14 million to enable the Palestinian Authority (PA) to prepare for elections, 18 per cent. of which is attributable to the UK. The core elements of the EU support are:

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The UK Government are also assisting elections through the following projects:

The Quartet Special Envoy for Disengagement, Mr.James Wolfensohn, has identified the key issues for Israeli disengagement from Gaza and parts of the West Bank to be an economic success for the Palestinians and to assure Israeli security. DFID is working closely with Mr. Wolfensohn's team and is providing assistance to help the PA develop a medium-term development plan—one of the key issues identified by Mr. Wolfensohn. DFID is also providing substantial financial support (£15 million in 2005–06) to support Palestinian refugees in Gaza and elsewhere. This assistance, provided via the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), helps provide education, health, housing and social services to Palestinian refugees.

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