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Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment his Department has made of the potential humanitarian impact of (a) the predicted eruption of Mount Merapi in Indonesia and (b) the refusal of villagers in the vicinity of Mount Merapi to evacuate; what plans his Department has drawn up to assist in the event of an eruption; and if he will make a statement. 
DFID takes very seriously the potential humanitarian impact of an eruption of Mount Merapi in Indonesia. We are monitoring the situation closely through daily situation reports from the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and other sources. These include updates on the latest efforts to evacuate the region. Thousands of villagers have already been evacuated to safe areas, but we are aware that some are reluctant to leave their homes until the alert level is raised to level IV (eruption could be within 24 hours). The UN Resident Co-ordinator's Office has deployed an emergency officer to the area to review co-ordination and preparedness mechanisms and identify gaps. We will continue to monitor the situation closely and stand ready to assist in the event of an eruption.
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Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment his Department has made of official efforts to evacuate the region surrounding Mount Merapi in Indonesia; what assistance has (a) sought from and (b) provided by his Department; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Thomas: DFID is closely monitoring the situation in the Mount Merapi region, through daily situation reports from the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and other sources. These include latest assessments of official efforts to evacuate the region and information on numbers and condition of those evacuated. The UN Resident Co-ordinator's Office has deployed an emergency officer to the region to review co-ordination and preparedness mechanisms and identify any gaps. Evacuation sites and routes have been identified and logistics are in place.
Central and local government agencies, as well as the World Health Organisation, Indonesian Red Cross, International Federation of the Red Cross, and other non-governmental organisations are involved in efforts to evacuate the region and meet displaced people's needs. No assistance has yet been formally requested from DFID. We will continue to monitor the situation closely and stand ready to contribute emergency humanitarian assistance should such a response become necessary.
Hilary Benn: The UK recognises the severity of the current humanitarian situation in Somalia and the risks of further deterioration. The most pessimistic predictions, however, including famine, are only likely if the 2006 long rains fail. Fortunately these have now started and are continuing well. So far we see malnutrition and mortality rates that are high but not yet catastrophic, and some of the predicted drought enforced migrations that had been envisaged have not taken place. This is likely to be, at least in part, due to the efforts of the relief agencies.
The UK is one of the leading donors to humanitarian response in Somalia and provided one of the first contributions to the World Food Programme (WFP) food aid operation in December 2005. Since then, we have contributed over £12 million to the WFP, the International Committee of the Red Cross, to other UN agencies and non- governmental organisations to deal with the humanitarian crisis there.
We continue to follow developments closely. It will be some time, however, before the rains result in better conditions and prospects for people in the worst effected areas. Indeed, the immediate effect on weakened human and livestock populations may be increased risks for example from water-borne disease and flooding, and interruptions to the supply of relief.
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Hilary Benn: Helping African Governments get their business and investment climates right is a priority for DFID. We support a wide range of programmes in Africa to address this. These include improving business regulation (such as registration and licensing of companies), infrastructure development, financial sector reform, customs administration, promoting fair competition, and stimulating public-private dialogue about investment climate reform.
In response to the Commission for Africa and G8 Gleneagles' commitments, the UK Government have committed US$30 million to the Investment Climate Facility (ICF) for Africa over the next three years. Three private sector companies have also committed support and other donors are showing positive interest with both the World bank and the Republic of Ireland planning to make contributions. The ICF will address many issues related to the investment climatehelping to develop improved policies, laws, regulations and procedures that impact on business. The ICF trustees (drawn mainly from Africa) are planning to launch the ICF around the middle of this year.
DFID has also committed US$20 million to a complementary initiativethe Africa Enterprise Challenge Fund (AECF). It is in the design stage and should be launched this autumn. The AECF will provide grants to private sector enterprises, on a competitive basis, which will allow them to test innovative business models and higher-risk ventures.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what discussions he has had with the Government of Sudan on attitudes towards women with particular reference to (a) assaults on women, (b) rape and (c) female genital mutilation. 
Hilary Benn: I deplore the continuing crimes of rape and sexual violence in Darfur. Such attacks are abhorrent and totally unacceptable. We have made, and continue to make clear to the Government of Sudan that more must be done to provide security for the citizens of Darfur, and that perpetrators of such crimes must be brought to justice. The UK Government oppose female genital mutilation and we support local initiatives to discourage it. Tackling rape and gender-based violence has been a key point at the regular meetings between the international community and the Government of Sudan. The Government of Sudan have formulated an action plan to eliminate violence against women, but we continue to press the Government of Sudan to implement the plan.
Hilary Benn: DFID is working in partnership with the Gambian Government, international partner and civil society groups to support the national Poverty Reduction Strategy, which aims to create an enabling environment for economic and social development, poverty reduction, enhancement of productive capacity, and social protection for the poorest.
In this context, DFID is working to strengthen governance performance and combat social exclusion of the poorest, particularly in the education sector. Our support is focused on the following main areas:
Legal Capacity Building (200407) to improve the accessibility, impartiality and efficiency of the judicial system for the rural poor majority; includes training for professional and administrative staff in the Judiciary and Department of State for Justice.
Financial governance (20052008) will help strengthen public financial management and ensure best use of financial resources in implementing the Poverty Reduction Strategy. Training for the National Assembly Public Accounts Committee and capacity building in the Department of State for Finance are included.
DFID has a bilateral development programme allocation of £3 million for 200607, and also provides support through contributions to multilateral organisations, such as the European Union, the World Bank and United Nations Agencies. Our estimated share of this assistance was £1.4 million in 2004.
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