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23 Mar 2006 : Column 522W—continued


Mark Simmonds: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what the cost was of the Productive Safety Net Programme in Ethiopia; what assessment he has made of its effectiveness; and if he will make a statement. [58037]

Hilary Benn: The current cost of the Productive Safety Nets Programme, which is one component of the Ethiopian Government's national food security programme, is £170 million per annum. DFID will contribute £30 million in this financial year (2005–06). The remainder will be provided by a consortium of other donors, including the World Bank and the European Commission. The Ethiopian Government contributes US $250 million to the other components of the national food security programme, but not to the Productive Safety Nets Programme.

The Productive Safety Nets Programme is subject to regular reviews by donors and by the Government of Ethiopia. These reviews have demonstrated that the programme has delivered either cash or food to approximately 4.9 million targeted beneficiaries so far, and is beginning to show positive impacts on the livelihoods of very poor people.

International Women's Day

John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what representations he has received regarding International Women's Day. [58824]

Hilary Benn: I have not received any representations specifically on the issue of International Women's Day. However, to mark this important occasion, DFID held a seminar on the theme of Women Defining Success" for staff in its offices in London and Glasgow.

International Women's Day also saw the launch of the UK National Action Plan on implementation of UN Security Council Resolution on Women, Peace and Security. DFID is one of the three Government Departments responsible for this action plan.

Oil Extraction

Mr. Sheerman: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how many development projects supporting oil extraction his Department funded in the last 12 months; how much was allocated to each project; where each was located; and what percentage of total UK aid the funding represented. [60254]

Mr. Thomas: None.
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Jeremy Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment he has made of work undertaken by non-governmental organisations to combat child domestic work and trafficking of children in the Philippines; and whether his Department has funded such work. [60486]

Mr. Thomas: DFID has recently assessed a proposal from the International Children's Trust (ICT) for a programme with child domestic workers in the Philippines. Based on our assessment, we have agreed to provide approximately £320,000 to support the Trust's proposal. The ICT will work through a local partner, the Visayan Forum Foundation, where our support will meet the cost of operations for two years from April 2006. This is the first activity we have financed in the Philippines that will address this important issue and we will monitor and review the impact of the programme carefully.

Resource Extraction Projects

Mr. Sheerman: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment he has made of the mineral and natural resource extraction projects in developing countries. [53850]

Mr. Thomas: DFID's primary involvement with mineral and natural resource extraction projects in developing countries is an indirect one, as a 'shareholder' in multilateral financial institutions, such as the World Bank group and the Regional Development Banks, which invest in projects in this sector. However, DFID monitors developments in the minerals and natural resources sector as part of a commitment to sustainable development and attainment of the Millennium Development Goals.

DFID's main focus is on the general principles adopted in the environmental and social policies and procedures of the multilateral banks because these provide the framework within which the environmental and social impacts of specific projects are managed 'on the ground'. For example, DFID has been actively engaged in the Extractive Industries Review, which assessed the compatibility of World Bank's investments in the extractive sector with their missions of poverty reduction and sustainable development.

More recently, DFID has also contributed to the International Finance Corporation's review of its environmental and social safeguards policies and procedures. These safeguards are a key tool to ensure the prudent management of the exploitation of natural resources in developing countries.

DFID also provides support to the newly established Inter-Governmental Forum on Mining, Minerals, Metals and Sustainable Development. The primary role of this Forum is to assist developing countries to manage their mineral wealth as a key component in their development strategies.

Sierra Leone

Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if he will make a statement on the work of the Sierra Leonean Anti-Corruption Commission. [57007]

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Hilary Benn: The Sierra Leone Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has been working to combat corruption since its creation in 2000. The work of the ACC covers all aspects of corruption—from prevention and community education to carrying out investigations and forwarding these for prosecution.

UK Support to the ACC:

Supporting anti-corruption efforts is one of the UK's top priorities in Sierra Leone. The UK has been supporting the ACC since its inception through the provision of funding and technical assistance to enhance the capacity and efficiency of the ACC. To date, the UK has provided just over £4 million to the ACC.

Investigations and Prosecutions:

A total of 551 cases have been investigated by the ACC from July 2000 to December 2005. Of these, 51 cases have been charged to court (37 to the High Court and 14 to the magistrates court), resulting in 21 convictions (16 High Court and 5 magistrates court).

Prevention and Community Education:

A National Anti-Corruption Strategy (NAGS) was launched by President Kabbah in February 2005. Following this, community education campaigns were launched throughout Sierra Leone to raise awareness on the strategy. Separate anti-corruption plans have been developed for key ministries where potential for corruption is highest.


Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if he will make a statement on his recent visit to Darfur. [57004]

Hilary Benn: I visited Sudan 20–22 February 2006. I spent a day in El Fasher, North Darfur where I met with the Acting Governor (Wali) of the state and the new AMIS Force Commander, General Ihekire. I also visited two Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps on the outskirts of El Fasher where I met with IDPs and non-governmental organisation (NGO) representatives. In Khartoum, I met with Vice Presidents Taha and Kiir, Foreign Minister Lam Akol, representatives of the AU, the UN Special Representative Jan Pronk as well as UN Agency and non-governmental organisation (NGO) heads.

The humanitarian situation in Darfur has stabilised and is much better than in 2004 largely due to the enormous international effort. Huge problems remain, however, with 1.8 million people still in camps unable to go home and 3.4 million people dependent on humanitarian aid. This progress has, however, to be set against a serious deterioration in security. In addition to the clashes between rebels and Government forces and tension along the border with Chad, increasing lawlessness and banditry is becoming a major concern. The insecurity is severely hampering the delivery of humanitarian assistance, leaving many people intensely vulnerable.

In my meetings with Government representatives, I reinforced the message delivered by the Foreign Secretary at the Abuja talks on 14 February, namely that the lack of progress on Darfur is unacceptable. The parties to the Abuja peace talks must negotiate urgently
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and in good faith. Both sides need to show by their actions on the ground that they are serious about a peace deal; both must co-operate with, and neither hinder nor threaten, AMIS and the international community in Darfur; and all must end the climate of impunity.

I discussed the African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS). The AU have done a good job in deterring violence in the region in very difficult circumstances, but the AU force was not designed or configured for long-term operation. We need to strengthen the international operation in Darfur, which means handing over from the AU to a bigger UN force with a stronger mandate. I welcome the decision taken by the AU Peace and Security Committee on 10 March, to support, in principle, transition to a UN force in Darfur. The new AMIS Force Commander briefed me on the current unpredictable security situation and his plans for addressing the challenges facing AMIS. To help ensure AMIS maintains its effectiveness, I announced a further £20 million in UK support to the mission.

I also took the opportunity to announce a £40 million contribution to the Common Humanitarian Fund (CHF), a pioneering multi-donor fund, administered by the UN Humanitarian Co-ordinator. This will help enable the UN to react more quickly and more flexibly to both identified and unforeseen needs, not only in Darfur but across all of Sudan.

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