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(2) what the outcome was of the 2006 Review of the European Investment Bank's Facility for Euro-Mediterranean Investment and Partnership operations in the Palestinian Territories; [94252]

(3) how much has been spent in the Palestinian Territories under the electricity network upgrading initiative to improve the quality and reliability of the electricity supply across the Palestinian Territories announced during the UK Presidency of the EU in 2005. [94253]

Hilary Benn: The Government consider that the role played by the Facility for Euro-Mediterranean Investment and Partnership (FEMIP) in promoting sustainable private sector development is an important part of supporting the middle east peace process. During the UK presidency last year, two projects were approved by FEMIP for the west bank and Gaza Strip. These were €10 million in risk capital for credit guarantees and a €45 million loan for electricity upgrading. However, as with many donor-funded projects in the west bank and Gaza this year, FEMIP has been unable to implement these projects. This is because the Hamas government has so far not met internationally agreed principles for renouncing violence, recognising Israel, and accepting previous agreements and obligations.

A review of FEMIP is due to take place by the end of 2006. This will set out options for the future of FEMIP, including on how to strengthen its effectiveness in achieving social and economic objectives. The report has not yet been finalised. The UK will work to ensure that future FEMIP operations in Euromed countries are consistent with and supportive of the peace process.

The European Community has provided funding to pay the fuel costs of Gaza power station this year. This continued until the power station was put out of service in an Israeli missile attack in June. My Department is providing £3 million through the Temporary International Mechanism (TIM) for operation, maintenance and repair work to keep water, sanitation and electricity services running in west bank and Gaza Strip. The European Community has allocated €15 million through the TIM to pay for fuel for emergency generators. These are ensuring that health, water and sanitation services can continue in Gaza after the Israeli missile attack on the power station.

Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if he will make a statement on progress made since the announcement of increased European support for economic regeneration in the West Bank and Gaza Strip in November 2005 during the UK Presidency of the EU. [94254]

Hilary Benn: Following the Agreement on Movement and Access in November 2005, the EU agreed to undertake an on-site Third Party monitoring role at the Rafah (Gaza-Egypt) crossing. The Border Facilitation Mission has been in place since 27 November. However, the Agreement on Movement and Access has not been fully implemented by Israel or by the Palestinian government. We hope that Israel will act on its commitments in the Movement and Access agreement and that the Palestinian
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government will facilitate this by committing to non-violence, recognition of Israel and acceptance of previous agreements and obligations, including the Roadmap.

Additionally, at the G8 Summit in Gleneagles, the G8 agreed to support the Quartet Special Envoy for Disengagement, James Wolfensohn, in his intention to stimulate a global financial contribution of up to $3 billion per year over the coming three years. The intention was that a pledging conference could take place in spring 2006, provided that progress had been made on political and economic issues. However this has not happened. Following the formation of a Hamas Government, the UK, European Community and other donors have suspended direct aid to the Hamas government until it complies with the principles set out by the Quartet. The commitments made at Gleneagles remain should the political situation change.

Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how much has been allocated to each of the uses to which the £30 million provided by the UK to the Palestinians in 2006 has been put. [94257]

Hilary Benn: For the UK financial year 1 April 2006 to 31 March 2007 DFID has allocated its £30 million budget to the following:

Occupied Territories

Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what role the UK has played in capacity building in the Occupied Territories since January; and what further action is planned. [94256]

Hilary Benn: DFID’s support for capacity building in the occupied Palestinian territory has been adjusted so that no assistance is provided to the Hamas Government. This is because the Hamas Government has failed to meet internationally-agreed criteria on renouncing violence, recognising Israel and accepting previous agreements, including the Roadmap.

DFID support in 2006 is aimed at:

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Other projects with the Ministry of Planning and the Civil Police were completed before the Hamas Government took office.

Pan-African Trading Zone

John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment he has made of the merit of establishing a pan-African trading zone. [92955]

Hilary Benn: The African Union (AU) seeks to achieve African economic integration using regional economic communities (RECs) as building blocks. DFID supports the AU’s approach to regional economic integration by providing support both to pan-African institutions (AU and the New Economic Partnership for African Development) as well as to RECs in Southern, West and East Africa. Any major new initiative such as the establishment of a pan-African trading zone would need to be developed and assessed on its merits by Africa, through the AU.

The Commission for Africa (CfA) also recognised that increasing pan-African trade would be good for African growth and poverty reduction. That is why DFID is working towards this objective in a number of ways. For example, the Chancellor and I have announced that we expect UK spending on Aid for Trade, including economic infrastructure, to increase to $750 million by 2010.

We are also continuing to work hard towards a successful and ambitious outcome to the Doha Round of world trade talks that would bring maximum benefits for Africa.


John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment he has made of the impact of conflict in Senegal upon the potential development of (a) Senegal and (b) the Gambia. [93522]

Hilary Benn: We are concerned about the continuing conflict in the Casamance province of Senegal, which has been affected by violence and instability for the past 24 years. Whilst DFID has not carried out its own assessment of the developmental impact of this conflict, it is clear that those living there have suffered greatly, development has been undermined, and there have been significant repercussions for the neighbouring countries of Guinea-Bissau and the Gambia.

During the current outbreak of violence, which began in August, international aid agencies estimate that around 10,000 people have been internally displaced by the fighting, while a further 5,000 have crossed into the Gambia. Many of these people are now receiving humanitarian assistance, although it is proving difficult to deliver relief to those still trapped by the fighting. We are in close contact with agencies on the ground and remain ready to provide support if the situation deteriorates further.

The UK supports long-term peace building efforts in the region through the interdepartmental African Conflict Prevention Pool. We are considering support, this year, to Concern Universal’s long running
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programme in Casamance and the Gambia, which is focused on mitigating the negative social and economic effects of the conflict through cross-border networking, conflict resolution, peace building and infrastructure rehabilitation.


John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps are being taken by his Department to promote the transition to peace and stability in Somalia. [92950]

Hilary Benn: The Government’s principal objective is the return to the family of nations of a peaceful, democratic, and economically viable Somalia. DFID is one of the largest bilateral donors to Somalia, and one of our principal objectives is to deliver assistance that supports a just and viable outcome of the current political transition. With other donors, DFID provides support to the Transitional Federal Institutions, to enable them to begin functioning, effectively and engage in national reconciliation. DFID has also part-funded and contributed to the Somali/UN/International Community’s development of a reconstruction and development plan which will be the basis for stabilisation and socio-economic recovery.


John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what discussions he has had with Unicef about tackling the use of child soldiers in Darfur. [92940]

Hilary Benn: DFID officials in Sudan are in touch with UNICEF over the issue of child soldiers in Darfur. UNICEF monitor the recruitment and use of child soldiers in Darfur, and have tried to reach agreement on their release and reintegration with both signatory and non-signatory groups to the Darfur Peace Agreement. However, the current situation on the ground, and the factionalisation of militia has frustrated this. UNICEF are planning to roll out an awareness raising campaign on this issue within Darfur soon and are developing partnerships with agencies that can support their return to their families and reintegration into civilian life. DFID will continue to engage with UNICEF over this issue, and assess how we might support this work.

John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what recent assessment he has made of the number of people who are out of reach of aid agencies operating in Darfur. [93074]

Hilary Benn: The World Food Programme estimates that 224,000 registered beneficiaries could not be accessed during September. The majority of these people are in the northern part of North Darfur and have been cut off due to current fighting.

John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what recent assessment he has made of the number of people who are in need of support from aid agencies in Darfur. [93075]

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Hilary Benn: The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) estimates that 3.6 million people are currently in need of humanitarian assistance in Darfur. Of this number, 3.1 million are beneficiaries of the World Food Programme (WFP). 1.9 million are displaced, living either in camps or in informal gatherings.

Trade (Africa)

John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment he has made of the need for investment in infrastructure in Africa in order to facilitate trade. [92933]

Hilary Benn: Africa’s infrastructure deficit and poor condition of existing infrastructure significantly hampers Africa’s ability to trade both regionally within Africa and beyond. Good infrastructure reduces transportation costs and delays in moving goods. Recent research shows that in one third of all African countries, transportation costs account for more than 25 per cent. of the total value of exports—and in Uganda they exceed 70 per cent. A 10 per cent. reduction in transport costs can increase trade by 25 per cent.

Trade-related infrastructure includes rural and international roads, railways, ports and airports, telecommunications, energy and water. Well managed small towns also serve as a vital link between local, national and international markets. Enormous investment is needed to extend and improve Africa’s infrastructure base. The Commission for Africa Report estimates that countries need to spend around 5 per cent. of GDP on infrastructure investment and a further 4 per cent. on operation and maintenance. This means a requirement for an additional $10 billion/year by 2010—a doubling of existing expenditure.

DFID played a leading role in launching the Africa Infrastructure Consortium in October 2005. Working closely with African partners, the Infrastructure Consortium’s role is to address both national and regional constraints to infrastructure development and broker financing for infrastructure projects that strengthen regional integration, economic growth and development.

Last month, the Chancellor and I announced that we expect UK spending on Aid for Trade, including economic infrastructure, to increase to $750 million by 2010. A major proportion of this will flow to Africa, including funding for transport, energy, ports and communications.

World Bank

Mr. McGovern: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what criteria the Government have set for the World Bank to secure the £50 million funding which is being withheld. [92384]

Hilary Benn: The UK funds the International Development Association (IDA), the arm of the World Bank Group that provides grants and concessional loans to the poorest countries. The latest UK contribution was to the fourteenth replenishment of IDA (IDA 14). The agreements governing this funding are set out in the IDA Resolution No. 209 (“Additions to Resources: Fourteenth Replenishment”) which was adopted by the Governors of the World Bank in April
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2005. Parliamentary approval for the UK contribution was given under The International Development Association (Fourteenth Replenishment) Order 2006 [Statutory Instrument 2006 No 1071], which came into force in March 2006.

The UK has committed £1.43 billion to IDA 14, and this is payable over the three year period July 2005 to June 2008. I made £100 million of this contribution dependent on the Bank working more effectively with other donors and on reforming the way it attaches conditions to its assistance. These conditions are set out in the IDA Resolution: Schedules to Attachment 1. The £100 million was due to be paid in two equal tranches of £50 million. Following its fulfilment of the conditions for the first tranche, we paid £50 million to the World Bank in July 2006. Payment of the second tranche of £50 million, which is due in April 2007, is subject to fulfilment of the following conditions (set out in Schedule B):

I told the Bank last month that I would not agree to the £50 million being paid until I had seen the evidence that it was making serious efforts to implement the recommendations of the conditionally review. The recommendations centred on the Bank observing five good practice principles when it agrees the conditions attached to its assistance. The first of these principles is ownership, and the review reaffirmed the Bank’s commitment not to impose policies, including privatisation and trade liberalisation, on developing countries. In July 2006, the Bank produced a report on what it had done to implement the good practice principles. The report contained some good examples of where the Bank had sought to apply the principles, but there was not enough information to reach a judgment on how consistently and effectively they had been applied. I emphasised to President Wolfowitz at the Annual Meetings of the World Bank and IMF in Singapore last month the importance I place on the Bank ensuring these principles are consistently implemented in all its programmes, and that I expected a more detailed report. President Wolfowitz agreed to produce another more detailed report by the end of November.


John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development (1) what discussions he has had with the government of Zimbabwe about assistance for those affected by Operation Murambatsvina; [93645]

(2) what discussions he has had with the government of Zimbabwe about the provision of decent housing for all inhabitants. [93646]

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Hilary Benn: The UK, along with other donors, has repeatedly expressed serious concern about Operation Murambatsvina, through which the government of Zimbabwe displaced some 700,000 of its own people from their homes and/or livelihoods, as reported by UN Special Envoy Anna Tibaijuka following her visit to Zimbabwe last year. The government of Zimbabwe has consistently denied the extent of the humanitarian tragedy that resulted from those actions, and has shown no interest in discussing housing issues with donors. In addition to Operation Murambatsvina the UN estimate that some 800,000 people have lost homes and/or livelihoods as a consequence as the consequence of the fast track land reform process. No substantial progress can be made on housing without the government of Zimbabwe rethinking its policies on land ownership.

Some UN and other international agencies and non-governmental organisations have managed to gain access to many of the victims. We have provided over £1.8 million to date to support the work of these organisations. There is a substantial ongoing need for assistance to vulnerable and mobile populations from Operation Murambatsvina and other causes such as former farm workers from commercial farms. DFID recently committed a further £5 million to the International Organisation for Migration and £1.1 million to NGOs to support their work in Zimbabwe addressing the needs of mobile and vulnerable populations, including the provision of temporary shelters.

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