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16 Feb 2006 : Column 2370W—continued

Coercive Abortion

Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development pursuant to the answer of 20 January 2006, Official Report, column 1639W, on coercive abortion, (1) if he will list the occasions when UK officials have raised the issue of coercive abortion bilaterally in appropriate circumstances; and if he will make a statement; [52534]

(2) how officials in his Department interpret appropriate circumstances in relation to raising the issue of coercive abortion bilaterally; and if he will make a statement. [52535]

Mr. Thomas: DFID interprets appropriate circumstances as those occasions judged to offer the best opportunity to seriously engage with senior officials. Under the UK presidency of the EU, we specifically raised the case of Chen Guangcheng, a lawyer who revealed information about forced abortions and sterilisations in Linyi City, Shandong Province, with the Chinese Government in October and November in 2005. We also raised our concerns more generally about the issue of coercive abortion with an unofficial delegation of senior Chinese policy-makers who visited the UK in August 2005.

Departmental Entertainment

Mr. Heald: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how much was spent on entertainment by his Department in 2004–05; and how much of that sum is accounted for by (a) food, (b) alcohol, (c) staff and (d) accommodation. [50882]

Mr. Thomas: The total cost for entertainment in 2004–05 was £303,000.

This figure for entertainment includes working breakfasts and lunches, refreshments at meetings and official entertainment. It is not possible to disaggregate specific entertainment costs relating to food, alcohol, staff and accommodation without incurring disproportionate cost.

All entertainment is made in accordance with published departmental guidance on financial procedures and propriety, based on principles set out in Government Accounting.

Departmental Recruitment

Mrs. Villiers: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how many job advertisements were placed by his Department (a) in total, (b) in print newspapers and magazines and (c) on a recruitment website in each year since 1997; and at what (i) total and (ii) average cost in each case. [50742]

Mr. Thomas: All of DFID's external job advertisements are placed in the national press or specialised magazines in addition to appearing on DFID's own website. Since 2003 all of our vacancies
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have also been placed on the civil service recruitment gateway website. There is no advertising cost associated with this facility.

Details of the number and cost of job advertisements placed by DFID for the five calendar years 2001–05 are as follows. Figures prior to 2001 are not available.
Total number of advertisements19113514012880
Total cost (£)772,780766,167703,012594,769307,359
Average cost (£)4,0465,6755,0224,6473,842
Number placed in print newspapers and magazines18913513912279
Cost (£)772,233766,167702,871593,336307,171
Average cost (£)4,0865,6755,0574,8633,888
Number placed on an external recruitment website20161
Cost (£)54601411,434188
Average cost (£)2730141239188


Daniel Kawczynski: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how much international aid was given to Gabon in (a) 1980 and (b) 2005. [52085]

Hilary Benn: The amount of international aid given to Gabon from all donors was (a) £24.01 million in 1980 and (b) £20.62 million in 2004, which is the latest year for which figures are available.


Mr. Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what recent assessment he has made of the incidence of HIV/AIDS in (a) India, (b) Bangladesh and (c) Pakistan; and if he will make a statement. [51877]

Mr. Thomas: India remains a low prevalence country with overall HIV prevalence of 0.91 per cent. i.e. less than 1 per cent. of the population. However, the overall figures mask various sub epidemics in various groups in the country. These sub-national epidemics are evidenced by high prevalence of HIV among both STD clinic attendees and antenatal clinic attendees.

The higher prevalence States in India are Tamil Nadu, Maharastra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Manipur and Nagaland in the North.

As of 2004, India has an estimated 5,134,000 people living with HIV or AIDS. This represents an increase of 28,000 from 5,106,000 people in 2003. The balance between urban and rural prevalence is 41 per cent. urban, 59 per cent. rural. 61 per cent. of the infections are in men, 39 per cent. in women.

The consensus is that India has a window of opportunity to act decisively. We and partners are increasingly working with the Government of India to do so.

DFID is providing £123 million over seven years to the Government of India's National AIDS Control programme. This includes funding directly through the
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National AIDS Control Organisation and a package of technical assistance which funds, among other things, a resource centre, mass media campaigns, UN agency work and a challenge fund.

HIV/AIDS prevalence in Bangladesh is estimated at less than 0.2 per cent. The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare estimated that 7,500 people in Bangladesh were living with HIV and AIDS at the end of 2004.

Nevertheless a number of factors mean that Bangladesh is vulnerable to a rapid spread of the HIV epidemic, including very high levels of behavioural risk in vulnerable groups and high levels of migration both within Bangladesh and from neighbouring countries with higher prevalence rates.

The most recent data on Bangladesh indicates that even among population groups with high risk behaviours, HIV prevalence remains less than 1 per cent. The exception to this is injecting drug users (IDUs) in central Bangladesh where HIV prevalence is 4.9 per cent., with pockets in Dhaka where levels are as high as 8.9 percent.

DFID has been providing support for HIV prevention work in Bangladesh since 1995. We are currently contributing £4 million to a programme of support for the Government of Bangladesh's response to the epidemic. This includes targeted HIV prevention services for groups with high risk behaviours and efforts to improve systems to ensure safe blood transfusion.

Data for Pakistan is scarce but HIV/AIDS prevalence is estimated at 0.2 per cent. of the population. There are however concerns that the country could be on the verge of a serious HIV problem. The combination of high levels of risk behaviour and limited knowledge about AIDS among drug injectors and sex workers are contributing to the rapid spread of HIV in high risk groups.

Knowledge of HIV among injectors (and sex workers) is extremely low. In Karachi, more than one quarter had never heard of AIDS and as transmitted infections rates are high. The extent of overlapping high risk practices and the mobility of sex workers and drug users poses the threat of a serious HIV epidemic in Pakistan.

DFID is working with both public sector programmes and public-private partnerships. DFID's current and recent direct support has amounted to £4 million. We are also contributing through budget support and technical assistance to seven national health programmes, which include the National Aids Control programme. This includes further support for the national AIDS strategy and promoting within this better integration of HIV and AIDS and reproductive health services.


John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps are being taken by his Department to address the food crisis in Kenya following the recent drought. [52192]

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Hilary Benn: During my recent visit to Kenya I committed a further £3 million in response to the food crisis in Kenya. This brings the total UK contribution to £12.7 million since July 2004. A total of 3 million people mostly in the north eastern and eastern parts of Kenya are affected by the drought. The levels of malnutrition are unacceptably high and urgent action is needed by all parties—Government, donors, NGOs, and communities to help save the lives of those at risk.

DFID support is channelled through the UN system—specifically the World Food Programme (WFP) for support to food aid and UNICEF for emergency health and nutrition. We have also made substantial contributions through NGOs (OXFAM, Merlin and Action Against Hunger). The support is focused on the worst affected areas based on the needs assessment report conducted jointly by Government of Kenya, the UN and the NGOs. The support given includes food aid, emergency health support, feeding programmes for malnourished children and emergency water provision.

DFID is also working with the Government of Kenya, other donors and others to look at ways to break the cycle of dependency on relief and to find more effective ways to address the problems of those who suffer from predictable chronic hunger.

John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what discussions he has had with his counterparts at (a) the EU and (b) the UN regarding the speed of the response to the drought crisis in Kenya. [52193]

Hilary Benn: DFID has been in regular discussions with the EU, the UN system and with bilateral donors since the start of the current drought crisis in Kenya in 2004, and has been active in promoting stronger co-ordination of the response.

DFID has been responding to the current emergency since 2004, as has the EU (through its humanitarian response agency, ECHO), and the UN system through the World Food Programme (WFP) and UNICEF in particular. Early warning systems supported by the Government of Kenya with inputs from the WFP and Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), have been indicating the growing vulnerability of people in various districts.

However, the situation has escalated rapidly following the poor short rains at the end of 2005. The Government of Kenya has provided a strong contribution to the overall relief efforts, and is now the biggest contributor of food aid, with a recent commitment of 60,000mt of food. DFID is urging the UN to play a stronger role in co-ordinating the emergency response, in particular in overseeing the analysis of priorities and gaps in the response effort.

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