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Promote effective natural resource use and environmental institutions
The World Bank implements these goals through lending, and also importantly through analytical work prepared to help Governments think through policy options. Our general assessment, backed up by analysis from the Banks Independent Evaluation Group is positive. They focus on key issues to unblock constraints to growth, including investment climate and tackling inequalitytwo major challenges for Latin America. We have been pleased that, with DFID help, the Bank has improved its analytical work by engaging with a wider range of actors in country. The Bank faces a particular challenge in Middle Income Countries, who have access to other sources of financing; this has pushed the Bank to be innovativesuch as by working with subnational Governmentsand to add value, such as by working on the design of social safety net programmes.
DFIDs Latin America Regional Assistance Plan (RAP) seeks to help the World Bank enhance its impact in reducing poverty. An independent interim assessment of progress on the RAP is currently taking place, including assessment of how our contributions are helping the World Bank to work in the region.
Mr. Thomas: Latin America is facing the twin challenges of rapid globalisation and entrenched inequality. Poor people in the poorer and middle income countries are not always benefiting from globalisation. And the countries needs are changing, as many can access other sources of finance for development, including private capital. The new President of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), Alberto Moreno, is leading efforts to transform the Bank so that it can better assist countries to meet these challenges and achieve the Millennium Development Goals.
One of the main changes underway is that new programmes are being designed to target the majority of the people of the region who are poor. One umbrella programme called Opportunities for the Majority represents a new way of assisting the people who lose out in the changes driven by the need to compete globally. The IDBs new initiative includes projects to help people secure and exercise their rights, for example helping poor people to establish their citizenship and get the documents they need to work in the formal economy. Other areas being looked at include housing, water and electricity for poor people. The objective is to support practical programmes which will make a difference to peoples lives such as creating jobs and. opportunities for poor people to start their own businesses.
To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps his Department
is taking to facilitate the charitable distribution of unused in-date medicines to developing countries. 
Mr. Thomas: DFID recognises that some organisations play a helpful role in seeking to improve health care in developing countries by donating medicines. However, donations do not provide a sustainable solution to the general, long-term needs for essential medicines in developing countries.
The UK Government believe that long term solutions must involve the development of sustainable markets for pharmaceutical products in developing countries. DFID provides support and finance to help developing countries purchase the drugs they need, benefit from lower prices through mechanisms such as UNITAID, increase the range of medicines available and strengthen the capacity of health services to deliver them.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what safeguards are in place to avoid the risk of (a) caste and (b) racial discrimination in the distribution of his Departments aid; what measures there are to ensure that UK aid reaches the most disadvantaged Dalit communities in India; and what mechanisms prevent aid going to groups complicit in (i) religiously, (ii) caste and (iii) racially-motivated violence. 
DFIDs programme in India operates in support of Government of Indias efforts to combat caste and ethnic discrimination and social exclusion in all its forms, including by strengthening programme design and monitoring to ensure that the benefits of development reach Dalits, Adivasis and other minority populations.
For example, DFID is providing £190 million tothe Indian Governments national programme for achieving universal primary education (Sarva Shiksha AbhiyanSSA). A key objective of SSA, launched in 2004, was to narrow the gaps that exist between the enrolment of Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe and other children. The proportion of Scheduled Caste children in the school population has increasedfrom 30.4 million in 2003 to 39.3 million in 2006and Scheduled Tribe children have increased from16 million in 2003 to 20.5 million in 2006. This has been achieved through a range of strategies that have helped tackle discrimination at all levels.
DFID has also provided £252 million in support of the Indian Governments National Programme to promote reproductive and child health (RCH2). The programme aims to reduce disparities in maternal and infant mortality between Dalit, Adivasi and other women and children. The programme will improve the data available to track progress and make informed decisions to achieve better health outcomes for Dalit and Adivasi women and children.
Although most DFID funds directly support the Government of India, DFID recognises that civil society is an important partner in achieving poverty reduction in India and holding Government to
account. DFID regularly reviews the civil society programmes it supports to ensure that all programmes pay due attention to the need to tackle exclusion.
Mr. Andrew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what recent assessmenthe has made of the effect on people living withinthe jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority of the cessation of EU aid to the Palestinian government. 
Hilary Benn: The UK Government are extremely concerned about the humanitarian situation in the occupied Palestinian territory. We are committed to helping the Palestinian people through the EU-led Temporary International Mechanism (TIM) and other projects. The causes of the deteriorating humanitarian situation include the conflict with Israel and amongst Palestinians; an economic downturn due to movement and access restrictions; and the Palestinian Authority's (PA) fiscal crisis, which has meant it has been unable to pay salaries.
The PA's fiscal crisis is mainly the result of the withholding of clearance revenues by Israel and lower tax revenues. The suspension of budgetary support by donors has played a less significant role. This is more than compensated for by an increase in aid through the TIM and other channels. European Union assistance has increased by 27 per cent. this year to £439 million. Aid for Palestinian basic needs through the TIM will reach £131.1 million this year in comparison with£65 million through budgetary aid to the PA in 2005. Without the TIM and other aid, notably from Arab donors, the situation for Palestinians would be far worse than it is now.
Mark Pritchard: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what aid the Government has given to help the government of the Philippines to help the families of the victims of the recent typhoon. 
Mr. Thomas: DFID has so far agreed to contribute £300,000 to the international appeal launched by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). The UN has already provided £2 million from the Central Emergency Relief Fund (CERF), to which DFID also contributes. We have been monitoring the situation closely and assess that the Philippines authorities are meeting immediate relief needs. The Philippines government has not requested international assistance but welcomes supplementary support for longer term recovery. A UN assessment team is in the Philippines preparing an additional funding appeal. We will consider contributing to this when it issues in the next few days.
Mark Simmonds: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment he has made of the outcome of the World Bank conference on remittances; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Thomas: The joint DFID and WorldBank-hosted conference on remittances held on13-14 November in London focused on the links between remittances and financial inclusion and followed up the outcomes of the first DFID-World Bank International Conference on Remittances in October 2003.
The conference brought together over 150 participants, including central bank governors, Government officials from developed and developing countries, academics, money transfer operators, commercial banks, credit card companies, diaspora, and representatives of the international donor community, NGOs and international organisations. Feedback from the conference participants was extremely positive. 90 per cent. of participants rated the conference either very good or outstanding in terms of its agenda, quality of presentations and selection of speakers.
The conference highlighted that remittances offer the potential for enhancing poverty reduction and growth, not least through bringing many millions of people into the formal financial sector. It was clear that:
While the cost of sending remittances has been brought down, further reductions are needed,
Access to remittances for poorer and more rural people is being extended, but further improvements are needed, and
Those receiving remittances would benefit from better access to other financial services, such as savings accounts.
The General Principles for International Remittance Services were launched at this conference. These principles act as a guide for regulators, governments and remittance providers, and are designed to improve the market for remittance services in sending and receiving countries. They were formulated by an international taskforce led by the Bank for International Settlements and the World Bank, with DFID support. DFID will work with the World Bank and others to assist developing countries in implementing the general principles.
The conference highlighted the importance of harnessing technology and working with the private sector in order to improve the impact of remittances. DFID supports the expansion of mobile phone banking through a joint programme of work with the World Bank and the global system for mobile
communication (GSM) association. This will include assessments of improvements that can be made to the regulatory framework for mobile banking in more than 10 countries. As regulatory issues can be a major constraint to the development of this technology, DFID has already worked together with regulators and mobile banking providers in Kenya and South Africa to identify and map out a positive and appropriate policy and legal framework for mobile banking.
DFID will continue to support the UK Remittances Task Force in helping speed up the private sectors response to the remittances and financial inclusion challenges that this conference emphasised. The UK Remittances Task Force is a positive example of the private sector setting goals for improving remittance services to developing countries that are driven by both commercial and development objectives.
The conference confirmed the need for controls to prevent money laundering via remittances, but in a way that also promotes financial inclusion. DFID is funding a project through the Financial Reform and Strengthening (FIRST) Initiative that will provide tools for developing country regulators to better achieve this balance.
Hilary Benn: Darfur is the worlds largest humanitarian crisis. The total number of displaced now stands at two million people with an additional two million people dependent on international aid for food and basic needs.
Although nutrition and health indicators remain relatively stable, there has been a serious deterioration in the ability of humanitarian agencies to reach those in need. The UNs ability to access populations in need in Darfur is at its lowest level since April 2004. With attacks on aid workers, banditry, upsurges in fighting and increasing numbers of new displacements, the situation has become extremely precarious and humanitarian conditions could rapidly deteriorate in the face of large-scale displacement, disease outbreaks, or withdrawal of NGOs due to insecurity.
Hilary Benn: In 2006 DFID has spent approximately £34 million on humanitarian assistance in Darfur and a further £4 million on those displaced and affectedby conflict in neighbouring Chad. Most of DFIDs Darfur assistance goes towards protecting the nearly two million displaced, and ensuring they have adequate access to healthcare, shelter, water, sanitation and food. This aid is channelled through the UN, non-governmental organisations and the International Committee of the Red Cross.
The UK is also active in urging full and unimpeded access for humanitarian agencies to all those in need in Darfur. Given administrative obstructions and the rising levels of insecurity, this is a major challenge in providing assistance to the displaced and conflict affected in Darfur.
Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what estimate he has made of the number of refugees from the Darfur region of Sudan who have fled to Chad in each of the last12 months; and if he will make a statement. 
Hilary Benn: The UN has reported that 13,686 Sudanese from the Darfur region fled to Chad between January and November 2006. These consisted of 1,660 new arrivals in January, 5,005 in February, 2,310 in March, 540 in April, 523 in May, 738 in June, 115 in July, 1,508 in August, 355 in September, 705 in October and 229 in November.
We are very concerned about the current situation in Chad. We assess it is fuelled partly by cross-border interference from Sudan. We continue to call on both the Government of Sudan and the Government of Chad to stop supporting each others rebels and to fulfil their obligations under the Tripoli Agreement.A UN assessment mission travelled to Chad from28 November to 3 December to look at what UN could do to improve security in refugee camps and border areas. We are pressing the UN Secretary-General to report back quickly with options for an international presence in the Chad/Darfur border region.
Hilary Benn: We have not been keeping data on the number of aid agencies ceasing operations in Darfur. We are aware of only two cases. Save the Children (UK) ended its operations in Darfur at the end of 2004, though it continued with its work elsewhere in Sudan. Last month Norwegian Refugee Council ended its operations in South Darfur.
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