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Iraq: Reconstruction

Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what body is responsible
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for the oversight of UK-funded reconstruction projects in Iraq; and if he will make a statement. [141656]

Hilary Benn [holding answer 11 June 2007]: In close co-ordination with the FCO and MOD, DFID is responsible for the oversight of reconstruction projects in Iraq under the auspices of the International Development Act 2002. Our programme is managed from London with support from our offices in Baghdad and Basra.

Our priority is to build the capacity of the Iraqi Government to manage and spend their own resources effectively to deliver improved public services. We are also looking at options for supporting reconciliation and ways to reduce the level of violence. Finally, we are supporting humanitarian agencies to provide assistance to the four million displaced people in Iraq and neighbouring countries.

The UK has pledged £744 million for reconstruction and development in Iraq since 2003. So far £610 million has been disbursed, of which £488 million has been spent by DFID (including EC contributions). This includes over £125 million to support humanitarian agencies since 2003 (£10 million of which has been spent in 2007).

DFID has reporting arrangements in place for each of our own projects. All of DFID’s funds are subject to rigorous internal controls and the National Audit Office audits DFID’s accounts on an annual basis. Our 2005-06 audited resource accounts are available at http://www.dfid.gov.uk/aboutdfid/resource-accounts.asp. In addition our work is regularly scrutinised by the International Development Select Committee.

Liberia: Education

Lynne Featherstone: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how his Department will support education in Liberia following the refusal by the Education for All Fast Track Initiative Catalytic Fund to fund the endorsed Liberia Education Plan. [140882]

Hilary Benn: At the Education for All Fast Track Initiative (FTI) Catalytic Fund Strategy Committee in Bonn on 23 May 2007, development partners were very encouraged by the positive steps that Liberia is taking to rebuild its education system. Liberia has been admitted to the FTI partnership on the understanding that its education recovery plan is not yet ready for funding through this channel. It will continue to be supported with planning through the FTI's education programme development fund and with additional funding support through UNICEF.

The UK intends to support education in Liberia through the FTI's Catalytic Fund when there is consensus among all FTI partners that Liberia is eligible. The UK is contributing £150 million to the FTI.

Overseas Aid: Sri Lanka

Lynne Featherstone: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if he will provide a breakdown of how the £1 million funding announced on 24 May 2007 for Sri Lanka will be spent; and
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whether any of this will be provided for education programmes. [140884]

Mr. Thomas: Of the £1 million that DFID has allocated to humanitarian activities in Sri Lanka:

No funds have been allocated for education programmes.

Palestinians: EC Aid

Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what (a) UK Government and (b) EU studies have been undertaken into the effectiveness of the temporary international mechanism in delivering aid to the Palestinians; and if he will make a statement. [141200]

Hilary Benn: The European Commission and the World Bank are working on an assessment of the effectiveness of the Temporary International Mechanism. A report is expected at the end of this month. The UK is not carrying out a separate assessment.

Sierra Leone: Education

Lynne Featherstone: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if he will provide a breakdown of how the £9 million funding for education in Sierra Leone announced on 5 April is proposed to be spent; and what the timescale is for the release of the funding. [141063]

Hilary Benn: The £9 million funding for education in Sierra Leone is the proportion of our budget support over the next four years that can be attributed to the education sector, based on continued budget support to Sierra Leone at current levels. The amount is calculated based on the proportion of overall government of Sierra Leone expenditure that goes to the education sector. In 2006 the Government expenditure was divided up as follows:

Percentage

Teachers' salaries

61

Ministry Wages

1

Grants in aid, library board, planning and development services

5

Pre-primary non-wage

6

Secondary non-wage

6

Tertiary and teachers' education

19

Technical/vocational

1

Capital costs

1


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The Government of Sierra Leone have recently approved a 10-year education sector plan, which the Fast Track Initiative Catalytic Fund Strategy Committee agreed to partly fund, in Bonn on 23 May 2007. DFID stands ready to support this plan, along with other donors, and to help ensure that any financing gap is filled.

Somalia: Education

Lynne Featherstone: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if he will provide a breakdown of how the £9 million funding for education in Somalia announced on 5 April is proposed to be spent; and what the timescale is for the release of the funding. [141064]

Hilary Benn: The £9 million funding for education in Somalia will mainly build on our existing support to UNICEF/UNESCO education programmes in Puntland, Somaliland and, security conditions permitting, south central Somalia.

We will also support the development of education sector strategies (jointly with the EC and other development partners); and continue to support international non-governmental organisations in education service delivery, including humanitarian education programmes, in all parts of Somalia.

Due to the unstable situation in Somalia, it is at present difficult to give a precise breakdown as to when and how the funds will be allocated.

Somalia: Politics and Government

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment he has made of the humanitarian situation in Somalia; what steps have been taken by the (a) UK and (b) EU to improve the situation; and if he will make a statement. [141567]

Hilary Benn: While the UK has not made any direct assessment, we are kept informed by the regular assessments made by relief agencies on the ground. Fighting in and around Mogadishu in the first three months of 2007 resulted in large numbers of deaths and injuries, and has led to the largest displacement of civilians in the world this year, with an estimated 390,000 people newly displaced since the beginning of February. Most of these are additional to the existing 400,000 Internally Displaced People (IDPs) in Somalia. Without access to food, clean water and shelter these people need humanitarian assistance, as do many of those that were not displaced but lost access to services and livelihoods that were disrupted in the fighting. Prior to the fighting, the UN had estimated that 1 million people required humanitarian assistance, and had launched an appeal for $237 million to address these needs. In April this was revised upwards to $262 million in response to the newly emerging needs.

The UK is committed to addressing urgent humanitarian needs in Somalia. In 2006 DFID allocated £16 million and so far in 2007 we have committed £3.5 million to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), International Medical Corps (IMC) and to Solidarities, who are establishing a rapid response mechanism to improve living conditions for IDPs in Southern Somalia. Together these programmes
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will contribute to delivering water and sanitation, nutrition, medical and other relief supplies to those people most in need. DFID is also considering further contributions to ICRC, United Nations International Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and the United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA).

The EC Humanitarian Office (ECHO) has committed €18 million for humanitarian operations in Somalia this year, including €4 million approved on 1 June in response to the additional needs that have emerged as a result of the fighting in Mogadishu at the beginning of 2007.

The UK hosted the Somalia International Contact Group meeting in London on 6 June. This focused on how the international community could help restart the peace process. Real progress towards an end to the humanitarian crisis depends critically on progress being made towards a just and peaceful political solution in Somalia.

Sri Lanka: Overseas Aid

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment he has made of the effect of the political situation in Sri Lanka on the distribution of development aid. [139557]

Mr. Thomas: Sri Lanka is a middle-income country and therefore does not receive UK bilateral development aid. As part of its commitment for reconstruction the UK has given £500,000 of post-tsunami funding during 2007-08 to support good governance and small businesses in the North and East. DFID is supporting a programme to strengthen local capacity to plan, implement and monitor tsunami recovery in the north east of the country, to ensure that tsunami relief and development assistance is efficiently and equitably delivered. This programme is in partnership with the Governments of Germany and Sri Lanka.

Through the Global Conflict Prevention Pool, the UK gives £2 million to support a series of programmes aimed at tackling the underlying causes of conflict. Humanitarian assistance and access remains our top priority in Sri Lanka. In light of the recent displacements, UK will be giving £1 million in humanitarian assistance for the estimated 300,000
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currently internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Sri Lanka made homeless as a result of the upsurge in violence in the last year.

The ongoing conflict in Sri Lanka hampers the efforts of the humanitarian and development agencies to deliver aid effectively. Careful assessments of the political situation and its impact on our aid are regularly made by the joint DFID/FCO office in Sri Lanka. Part of this includes an assessment of humanitarian access, which is sometimes restricted in conflict areas. The UK has signed up with other key donors to the Guiding Principles for Humanitarian and Development Assistance in Sri Lanka. These principles are derived from the International Code of Conduct of Red Cross. One of the basic requirements is to ensure unrestricted access to all people in need of assistance.

Sudan: Armed Conflict

Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what recent estimate has been made of the numbers of (a) internally displaced people, (b) Sudanese refugees and (c) civilian casualties caused by the fighting in Darfur; and if he will make a statement. [141217]

Hilary Benn: The UN estimates there are 2.1 million people displaced in Darfur and a further 234,000 Darfuris who have sought refuge in neighbouring Chad. No reliable figures exist for civilian casualties. Given the impracticalities of gathering accurate current and past data, it is likely no firm figure will ever be known.

The humanitarian situation in Darfur is extremely fragile. Through the admirable work of aid agencies, the 4 million people dependent on aid in the region have had access to vital assistance and services. The deterioration of the security situation, however, has made this increasingly difficult to sustain. Attacks on humanitarian workers are having a particularly severe impact on getting help to those most in need.

I condemn the continuing violence targeting civilians and humanitarian workers in Darfur and I call on all sides to cease the violence immediately, renew the ceasefire and political process and accept the AU/UN peacekeeping force for Darfur.


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