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21 Mar 2006 : Column 187W—continued


Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development (1) what proportion of UK funding for the Palestinian Territories in 2005–06 is intended for (a) humanitarian relief and (b) budgetary support; and if he will make a statement; [59888]

(2) whether UK funding for the Palestinian Territories makes a distinction between budgetary aid and humanitarian aid; and if he will make a statement. [59889]

Mr. Thomas: The UK defines humanitarian assistance as that which is intended to 'save lives', alleviate suffering and maintain human dignity during and in the aftermath of man-made crises and natural disasters. This is distinct
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from budgetary aid which is the provision of funds directly to a partner government's central exchequer in support of that Government's programmes. During the current financial year 2005–06 we expect to provide a total of £15 million for humanitarian assistance to Palestinian refugees, £10 million for budgetary support to the Palestinian Authority and around £4.58 million for other development projects to assist the Palestinians, including technical assistance.

This is a period of considerable political change following the recent elections where Hamas won an absolute majority. We are currently reviewing how best to support poverty reduction for the Palestinians in this context.

Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what the contribution by the UK was to the World Bank Public Financial Management Reform Trust Funds' emergency $42 million release of funds to the Palestinian Authority in March; and if he will make a statement. [59890]

Mr. Thomas: The UK released £5 million in March, to the World Bank's Reform Trust fund for transfer to the Palestinian Authority (PA). The UK's share of the contribution made by the European Community to the Reform Trust Fund is equivalent to a further £2.3 million.

Following the Palestinian elections, the PA is being run by an interim administration. This caretaker government needs money to provide essential services such as health and education and to pay salaries. The Quartet, comprising the United States, European Union, United Nations and Russia, agreed on 30 January 2006 to take measures to stabilise the caretaker government's finances. The Palestinian Ministry of Finance has assured Trust Fund donors that all of the money released in March will be spent before any new government takes over.


Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what percentage of funding to the Philippines in 2006–07 will be directed at measures for better government. [55501]

Mr. Thomas: DFID does not maintain a bilateral programme to the Philippines, however we do finance a number of small programmes through non-governmental organisations (NGOs). In the 2006–07 financial year, we expect to spend some £109,000 through two NGO programmes. One will work with local government to help prevent the spread of HIV and AIDS, the other works with minority groups to help them articulate and secure their rights.


Jeremy Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment he has made of a possible link between poverty and contemporary forms of slavery; and what steps he is taking to support poverty reduction strategies in countries where such practices are used. [60487]

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Mr. Thomas: Last year in its Global Report the International Labour Organisation (ILO) estimated that around the world, at least 12.3 million people were victims of forced labour. The report makes clear that poverty and social exclusion are at the root of much contemporary slavery and forced labour.

The Government supports long-term programmes to help tackle the poverty and social injustice which makes people vulnerable to exploitation. It also supports programmes that specifically target forced labour. DFID has provided over £2 million to support the ILO's Special Action Programme on Forced Labour and an additional £2 million for the ILO's regional programmes in West Africa and South East Asia. DFID has also committed almost £14 million to ILO and non-governmental organisation programmes in South East Asia to stop the trafficking of children for forced labour.

Small Firms

Mr. Prisk: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what definition the Department uses of a small firm. [59292]

Mr. Thomas: There is no universal definition of a small firm. While several criteria can be used to define a small firm, including annual value of sales turnover and value of capital assets, the most common defining feature is number of workers employed. DFID regards small" firms to be those with 1 to 50 employees. Firms employing over 50 employees are considered medium-sized. In international development usage, small firms with less than 10 employees are generally termed micro enterprises". Modern small firms differ from micro enterprises in several important respects, namely:

Street Children

Mr. Andrew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assistance his Department provides to help tackle the poverty of street children in (a) Honduras and (b) Guatemala. [59751]

Mr. Thomas: Street Children in Latin America are victims of deprivation and exclusion. Overwhelming poverty, unemployment and social dislocation leave many children with no option other than to leave home to find work and by-pass the education system. Street children are excluded from accessing key services such as health and education. They are powerless and lack supportive kinship and social networks. Many street children suffer and are at greater risk from organised violence, trafficking, sexual exploitation and HIV/AIDs.

The Department for International Development (DFID) is assisting street children in Honduras and Guatemala through our support to the international financial institutions, the European Commission and our civil society partners. DFID is supporting the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDE)
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to strengthen their programmes to tackle the widespread poverty, inequality and social exclusion that forces many children on to the street. DFID assistance through the IDB has included $145,000 to build the capacity of Guatemalan non-governmental organisations and public sector officials to reintegrate street children backinto society. Our contributions to the European Commission are also assisting the Commission to implement a social cohesion programme in Latin America.

DFID contributed £1 million in 2004 to support participation of both civil society and the Government of Honduras in developing their poverty reduction strategy. The Strategy includes an analysis of child poverty and the plight of street children and commits the Government to reduce child labour, improve the quality and equity of education and improve child health coverage. DFID support to the Save the Children Fund (SCF) through a global agreement has also assisted the SCF Honduras office to work on youth justice initiatives.


Ms Keeble: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment he has made of the impact of the recent restrictions on the operation of humanitarian organisations in Western Darfur. [59712]

Hilary Benn: Up to now the impact of restrictions on the operation of humanitarian organisations in West Darfur has been minimal, despite the reduction in the number of international staff working in the region. This has been due to the agencies themselves anticipating the deteriorating security situation last January, and pre-positioning relief materials. This has enabled basic water, food and medical supplies to be provided through national staff and local non-governmental organisations (NGO)s.

However, security restrictions mean that the UN and NGOs can undertake only emergency life saving interventions in some parts of West Darfur. This, and the reduction in staff numbers, means that the international community is now less able to respond to a major challenge such as an outbreak of disease or a further large-scale displacement of the population. Reduced staff numbers mean that the UN's ability to afford protection of civilians is also more limited.

We remain closely engaged with NGOs and the UN and stand ready to provide additional assistance if required.

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