|Previous Section||Index||Home Page|
Mortality estimation is extremely challenging in all developing countries. According to the World Health Organisation, only three out of 21
countries in what they term the Eastern Mediterranean region have complete vital registration, and Iraq has no such recent data available.
The UN Population Division estimated that the crude death rate for Iraq was around 10 per 1,000 population in the second half of the 1990s. The UN Development Programme (www.undp.org) and World Health Organisation (www.who.int) also provide data on crude death rates. There is very little data available on child mortality, though UNICEF (www.unicef.org) has compiled data on under-five mortality in Iraq in the 1990s. Since 2003 there has been no comprehensive record of mortality rates in Iraq, though there are a number of estimations of the number of deaths caused by violence, eg Iraqi Ministry of Health, the Iraq Body Count, and surveys published by The Lancet Medical Journal. The Government of Iraq are currently making preparations to undertake a national population census, which would provide data on mortality, fertility, and migration.
Mr. Ancram: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions she has had with the Government of Iraq on Assyrian Christian refugees from Iraq; and what measures could be taken to persuade them to return. 
Dr. Howells: We continue to raise the protection of minority groups with the Government of Iraq and with other Iraqi political and religious leaders, including Assyrians, and members of civil society organisations. During her visit to Iraq, in September, my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary highlighted the importance of Prime Minister Malikis Government serving the rights of all communities across Iraq and addressing key issues of concern to particular communities which is an essential part of addressing the current levels of violence.
The Iraqi Constitution contains provisions which guarantee democratic principles, rights and freedoms of all individuals, including the freedom of worship. We continue to encourage the Iraqi Government to ensure these are protected.
Mr. Ancram: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions she has had with the Government of Iraq on giving financial assistance to the Assyrian Christian communities within Iraq. 
Mr. David Anderson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment she has commissioned into the findings of the recent report in The Lancet on deaths in Iraq; and if she will make a statement. 
Dr. Howells: I refer my hon. Friend to the reply given by my noble Friend, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Lord Triesman of Tottenham, to the noble Lord, Lord Lamont of Lerwick, in another place Official Report, columns 870-71.
Mr. Brady: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answer of 18 October 2006, Official Report, column 1245W, on judicial co-operation, what the Governments position was on the use of the passerelle clause at the Justice and Home Affairs Informal Council at Tampere; what the Governments policy is on the use of the passerelle clause in this area; and if she will make a statement. 
However, the Government stated furthermore that we would need to be fully satisfied that any changes to the existing arrangements would genuinely improve the decision-making process, and that such a move would need to be in the UKs national interest. It is, as yet, unclear whether the Finnish Presidency will bring forward further work in this area during their Presidency, but the Government consider the current debate to be over. We will, however, keep the House informed of any developments.
Mr. Blunt: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations she has made to the Israeli government about the targeting of civilian infrastructure in Lebanon during the recent conflict. 
During the hostilities the UK and EU repeatedly urged the Israelis to act in proportionate and measured ways, so as to minimise civilian death and suffering. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister raised this personally with the Israeli Prime Minister on 18 July shortly after the conflict began and I raised it with my counterpart on 4 August, expressing my concern that the targeting of bridges and roads was hindering humanitarian efforts. Together with the EU, the Government have consistently urged all parties to do everything possible to protect civilian populations and to refrain from actions in violation of international humanitarian law. Following the incident in Qana in which dozens of civilians were killed, including
children, the UK also signed up to UN Security Council Presidential Statement expressing concern at the widespread destruction of civilian infrastructure.
Mr. Blunt: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations (a) she and (b) other Ministers in her Department have received from human rights agencies about Israeli actions in Lebanon in July and August. 
Dr. Howells: Neither I nor my colleagues have had any direct representations from human rights agencies to discuss Israeli actions in Lebanon in July and August. Nevertheless, officials in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office held a meeting with non-governmental organisations (NGOs) during the conflict during which the humanitarian and human rights situation in Lebanon were discussed. Officials also met with human rights NGOs during the Special Session of the Human Rights Council in August 2006. The Government and the EU have consistently urged all parties to do everything possible to protect civilian populations and to refrain from actions in violation of international humanitarian law. Since UN Security Council Resolution 1701 brought about a ceasefire on 14 August, there has been a significant improvement in the humanitarian situation on the ground. The UK is providing £22.3 million to Lebanon for humanitarian and reconstruction purposes and £1.2 million on efforts to clear up unexploded ordnance.
Mr. Blunt: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what estimate she has made of the cost to UK and UN agencies of the mission to clear-up the sub-munitions fired into Lebanon from Israeli cluster rockets during the last three days of the Israeli-Lebanese conflict. 
Dr. Howells: The UK has provided £205,000 to the Mines Advisory Group for clearance of unexploded ordnance from the conflict between Hezbollah and Israel and made a commitment to provide a sum of £1 million to the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) for similar tasking. The UNMASthe lead agency dealing with unexploded ordnancehas indicated that it needs $4,200,000 to deal with unexploded ordnance. These figures relate to the conflict as a whole: we are unable to identify costs relating only to the last three days of the conflict.
Mr. Blunt: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment she has made of the effect of munitions used by Hezbollah on Israeli population centres and military installations (a) the year before 12 July, (b) during the recent conflict and (c) since the ceasefire. 
Dr. Howells: In the year preceding the conflict between Hezbollah and Israel that began on 12 July there were four separate instances of rocket and mortar attacks on Israel by Hezbollah. These caused one fatality and 16 injuries on the Israeli side. The Israeli police reported that 3,970 rockets landed on Israel during the hostilities, killing 39 civilians and injuring approximately 2,000 more. Since the ceasefire came into effect on 14 August there have been no further rocket strikes by Hezbollah into Israel.
Mr. Blunt: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment she has made of the circumstances surrounding the killing of four UN observers by Israeli shellfire in southern Lebanon on 26 July; and what representations she has made to the Israeli authorities about this case. 
Dr. Howells: On 25 July, four UN observers were killed in an Israeli Air Force strike on a UN base in Khiyam in southern Lebanon. On 27 July the UK signed up to a UN Presidency Statement expressing the Councils shock and distress at the event. The full text of the Presidency statement can be found on the UN website at: http://www.un.org//News/Press/docs/2006/sc8791.doc.htm. The statement called on the Government of Israel to conduct an inquiry into the incident. Our Ambassador in Tel Aviv also raised it directly with the Israeli Prime Ministers office. Prime Minister Olmert expressed his deep regret over the incident and promised a comprehensive inquiry would be held. The Israeli Foreign Minister also expressed her condolences for the loss of life and said the attack was not deliberate. We understand that the Israelis have shared the findings of the inquiry with the UN and the countries whose nationals died in the incident.
Mr. Blunt: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment she has made of the (a) conduct of Israeli armed forces in Lebanon between 12 July and 14 August and (b) extent to which the use of cluster bombs in Lebanon between 9 and 14 August complied with international law. 
Dr. Howells: The UK has always recognised Israels legitimate right to self-defence. At the same time we made clear during the conflict our deep concern at the deaths of civilians and at the destruction of civilian infrastructure and consistently urged Israel to exercise utmost restraint and act in compliance with international humanitarian law.
The UK has not conducted an investigation into Israels conduct in Lebanon between 12 July and 14 August. We note that various human rights non-governmental organisations and the visit report of the four UN special procedure mandate holders have accused both Israel and Hezbollah of serious violations of international humanitarian law. We believe that any credible allegations of improper conduct should be properly investigated and appropriate action taken by the Governments of Israel and Lebanon. We have held discussions about unexploded ordnance with both the Government of Lebanon and the Government of Israel. We have called on the Government of Israel to make a public statement about its use of cluster munitions in the recent conflict with Lebanon and would expect them to investigate any well-founded allegations of misuse of munitions by its armed forces, just as the UK would do.
Mr. Blunt: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if she will discuss with the Israeli authorities the chain of command involved in the decision to use cluster bombs in Lebanon between 10 and 14 August. 
Dr. Howells: We have asked the Israeli authorities to make a statement about their use of cluster bombs. The UK regards cluster munitions as a legitimate weapon when used in accordance with international humanitarian law. We would expect the Government of Israel to investigate any credible allegations of improper use of such munitions. We do not intend to raise with the Israeli authorities the chain of command in the decision to use cluster bombs.
Richard Burden: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what estimate her Department has made of the number of Hezbollah rocket strikes from Lebanon on (a) Northern Israel and (b) Shebaa Farms in each month between June 2005 and June 2006. 
Dr. Howells: Hezbollah fired rockets into Northern Israel in June 2005, November 2005, December 2005 and May 2006. The rocket attack in November 2005 struck a range of targets in northern Israel and some of the rockets landed in the Shebaa Farms area. We have no exact information on the numbers of rockets fired on these occasions but there were multiple attacks in each case.
Margaret Beckett: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office is responsible for the Diplomatic Service and Overseas honours list, which is published to coincide with Her Majesty the Queens New Year and Birthday honours lists. UK honours are not automatically awarded to winners of the Nobel Peace Prize. Nominations are considered on their merits. The service to the UK should be of an outstanding or exceptional nature.
Mr. Blunt: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when she last met the Syrian Foreign Minister; and when a Minister from her Department last met a Syrian counterpart. 
Dr. Howells: I have never met the Foreign Minister of Syria. The last official Ministerial contact with Syria was when my noble Friend the right hon. Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean visited in 2003 and called on the President and Foreign Minister.
Mr. Gale: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment her Department has made of the potential impact of the Tanzanian media empire controlled by Reginald Mengi on the prospects for democracy, good governance and debt relief in Tanzania. 
Dr. Howells: Reginald Mengis IPP Media Group owns a number of important media outlets in Tanzania. It is independent of government. There are many other media outlets in Tanzania not owned by the Group. These outlets, and the Groups media activities, are part of an increasingly diverse and vigorous media sector in Tanzania. The independent media sector has a positive impact on the development of democracy and good governance in Tanzania. We are not aware that it has any impact on debt relief.
The Government believe the prospects for democracy, good governance and debt relief in Tanzania are good. President Kikwete has made clear he is committed to addressing poverty and promoting good governance and the UK will continue to support policies in this direction.
Hilary Benn: DFID has spent over £390 million on reconstruction and development in Afghanistan. The UK is Afghanistans second largest donor. DFIDs budget for Afghanistan is £102 million for this year, rising to £113 million in 2007-08; and £115 million in 2008-09.
Afghanistan remains one of the UKs top priorities and we have provided valuable support to the Government who have made great progress over the last five years: presidential and parliamentary elections were held. Six million children have returned to school, over a third of them girls. 13,000 girls and boys primary and secondary schools have been built and 15 teacher training centres have been established. 35,000 lives have been saved by routine immunisations. In 2005-06 the legal economy is estimated to have grown by 14 per cent. 3.5 million refugees have returned home. Major road rehabilitation is connecting major urban centres and Afghanistan with its neighbours. Reliable electricity supply is being restored. The telecommunications sector is growing fast, connecting businesses and people in Afghanistan,
Over 70 per cent. of our aid goes directly to the Government of Afghanistan and UK is the largest donor to the Governments recurrent budgetcovering annual costs such as salaries for teachers and health workers. This is exactly what the Afghan Government wantand is the best chance for building effective state institutions that will last.
DFlDs programme in Afghanistan is trying to encourage sustainable growth and poverty reduction. Building state institutions, improving economic management and providing legal economic alternatives to those involved in poppy cultivation are all critical to that objective. DFID provides significant funding to support the National Priority Programmes of the Afghan Government, such as the National Solidarity Programme (NSP) and the Micro-finance Investment Support Facility of Afghanistan (MISFA), which bring direct benefits to poor people. The NSP is active in all 34 provinces of Afghanistan and is responding to priority needs identified by some of the most remote and poorest communities. MISFA is currently working in 18 provinces and plans to be active in all 34 by end of 2007.
The reconstruction effort in Afghanistan is a long-term initiative. Achieving our objective of a peaceful, prosperous and secure Afghanistan, will be reliant upon the support and commitment of UK and other partners for many years to come
|Next Section||Index||Home Page|