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Bangladesh: Overseas Aid

Mr. Stewart Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what estimate he has made of the funding required to meet the immediate needs of the people affected by Cyclone Sidr in Bangladesh. [172879]

Mr. Malik: The Government of Bangladesh (GoB) have so far provided over £12 million to meet the immediate needs of the 8.9 million people affected by Cyclone Sidr. The GoB is also distributing water, food, water purification tablets, saline, blankets, tents, utensils and other relief items. The UK has provided £7 million through the United Nations and NGOs for immediate assistance in the form of food, clean and safe water, and the restoration of livelihoods. United Nations reports show that relief efforts have reached nearly all affected areas, with the water availability crisis having passed due to the high attention given to this by the GoB and others.

However, more will be required for the recovery operation. The GoB has appealed to raise a further $1 billion, of which over $213 million has so far been pledged by bilateral donors. The UK is committed to the long-term rehabilitation of the affected area and is considering further support.

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Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development whether it is his Department’s policy to use (a) incandescent light bulbs and (b) LED lights for festive decorations on departmental premises. [173498]

Mr. Malik: DFID uses neither incandescent nor LED lights for festive decorations on departmental premises.

Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what his Department’s policy is on the selection of (a) real and (b) artificial Christmas trees for his Department’s festive decorations; and how real trees are disposed of. [173523]

Mr. Malik: DFID does not purchase real Christmas trees. One small artificial tree was purchased approximately five years ago and has been used ever since.

Departmental Aviation

Mr. Hayes: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how much has been spent by his Department on commercial international passenger flights in each year since 1997. [174356]

Mr. Douglas Alexander: Since 1999 the Government have published a list of all overseas travel by Cabinet Ministers costing over £500. Information for the last financial year was published on 25 July 2007. Details for the current financial year will be published after the end of the financial year. From next year, the list will include details of overseas visits undertaken by all Ministers. All ministerial travel is undertaken in accordance with the “Ministerial Code”.

Information in respect of flights taken by officials could not be provided without incurring disproportionate cost.

Departmental Equality

Philip Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how much has been spent by his Department (a) in total and (b) on staff costs on promoting equality and diversity in each of the last three years for which figures are available; and how many people are employed by his Department for this purpose. [173837]

Mr. Malik: DFID is fully committed to the Civil Service equality and diversity agenda. DFID’s diversity strategy, together with its equality schemes (covering disability, race and gender), provide the broad framework under which our diversity and equality work is promoted and delivered across the organisation. DFID has developed a generic equality impact assessment toolkit to ensure that all its relevant UK policies and processes are assessed for any adverse impact on all six equality strands (disability, race, gender, age, sexual orientation and religion/belief).

In order to meet the specific challenges of this agenda, we have undertaken a comprehensive range of
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activities. Monetary values have been assigned to these key activities and are set out in the following table for each of the last three financial years.

DFID spend on diversity activities
2004-05 2005-06 2006-07

(a) Total (inc. staff costs)




(b) Staff costs(1)




Number of full-time equivalent (FTE) staff(3)




(1 )Staffing costs have been calculated using estimates of the staff time that has been allocated to the equality and diversity agendas in the core diversity team; using average staff cost data by grade
(2) Due to a redefinition of staffing costs, data for 2004-05 cannot be compared directly with that given for subsequent years.
(3 )A number of staff outside the core diversity team have also allocated a proportion of their time to promoting equality and diversity issues across DFID. These details are not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate costs.

Departmental Parliamentary Questions

Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how many staff work in his Department’s parliamentary branch; and what proportion of their time is spent on dealing with (a) Parliamentary Questions and (b) correspondence from hon. Members and Peers. [174955]

Mr. Douglas Alexander: Three members of staff work in DFID’s parliamentary unit. Ministerial correspondence is dealt with by a separate team.

DFID does not keep a record of the proportion of staff time spent dealing with parliamentary questions or correspondence.

EU-Africa Joint Strategy

Chris McCafferty: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what discussions he has had with his Irish counterparts on Ireland's reservation to approve the text of the EU-Africa Joint Strategy on the grounds that the strategy supports universal access to reproductive health by 2015, as set out by the International Conference on Population and Development and the Maputo Plan of Action. [173217]

Mr. Thomas [holding answer 11 December 2007]: The UK fully supports universal access to reproductive health by 2015 and therefore DFID has regular contacts, at official level, with counterparts from Ireland about sexual and reproductive health issues.

Ireland's reservations on the reference to the Maputo Plan of Action within the Joint Africa-EU Strategy and Action Plan were raised and discussed in working level meetings with all EU member states. The UK supported the presidency and Commission's approach to agreeing the text of the documents and member states agreed the following progressive commitments:

The UK worked to ensure that the Joint Africa-EU strategy specifically addresses the off-track health MDGs and is pleased with the final Strategy and Action Plan.

Gaza: Politics and Government

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development (1) what recent assessment he has made of the humanitarian situation in Gaza; and what steps he is taking to improve the position for the indigenous population; [172356]

(2) what steps he is taking to address the humanitarian situation in Gaza. [172355]

Mr. Malik: On his recent visit to the occupied Palestinian territories (OPTs), the Secretary of State discussed the humanitarian situation in Gaza with Israeli and Palestinian leaders, businessmen, donors and humanitarian workers. These discussions confirmed the assessment provided by DFID's regular monitoring, much of which relies on information from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). OCHA's most recent reports indicate that although humanitarian aid is getting into Gaza, restrictions at crossings mean that only 41 per cent. of Gaza's food needs are being imported. Shortages in basic foodstuffs have led to price increases and less food being purchased. 80 per cent. of the population in Gaza now receives food aid. Following the fuel cuts imposed by Israel on 28 October, the public provider of water services is receiving only 50 per cent. of the fuel needed to operate its facilities. Combined with a lack of spare parts for generators, this has meant that some people are only receiving water for one to two hours a day.

The UK is deeply concerned about the situation and we are doing what we can to help. During his visit, the Secretary of State expressed concern to Defence Minister Barak about the humanitarian effect of the reduction in fuel supplies and other Israeli actions. He discussed plans to reopen Gaza's crossings with President Abbas and Prime Minister Fayyad.

The UK is also providing humanitarian assistance. In 2007, DFID has given £15.6 million to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency to provide essential services such as food, housing and education to Palestinian refugees in the occupied Palestinian territories and wider region. Refugees make up 70 per cent. of Gaza’s population. We have provided £15 million to the Temporary International Mechanism (TIM) since 2006 for health services, allowances for government workers and water, sanitation and electricity services. We have also given £1 million this year to fund ICRC’s emergency appeal for Gaza.

Iraq: Overseas Aid

Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development with reference to the answer of 9 October 2007, Official Report, columns
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437-38W, on Iraq: overseas aid, what lessons have been learnt from provincial reconstruction teams in Iraq that could apply to Afghanistan in terms of how and where aid is delivered. [170630]

Mr. Thomas: Provincial reconstruction teams (PRTs) were originally established in Afghanistan and adopted in Iraq as a successful model. The PRT model has proven itself as an effective means of improving the delivery and co-ordination of aid and other development activity in conflict environments.

DFID works closely with other Government Departments and international partners to ensure that key lessons from PRTs in both countries are captured. The cross-departmental Post Conflict Reconstruction Unit has a formal role in ensuring that lessons are recorded for wider application, including the co-ordination of civilian and military initiatives. The primary purpose of PRTs in Iraq is to build the capacity of the provincial government to deliver benefits for its citizens. Major differences in the focus of the Iraq and Afghanistan programmes mean that some lessons are not readily transferred, but some general principles are applicable. The importance of building the capacity of provincial government and good governance, and of supporting each country's own central and provincial government to lead on and deliver reconstruction initiatives are major examples.


Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how many overseas offices his Department has; and if he will make a statement. [174790]

Mr. Douglas Alexander: DFID has 68 overseas offices.

Sudan: Armed Conflict

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what recent reports he has received on local level conflict between the Hadendowa and the Beni Amer in Eastern Sudan. [173250]

Meg Munn: I have been asked to reply.

Although we are aware of tensions between the Handendowa and the Beni Amer over resources and power sharing, we have not received any significant reports of violent conflict in Eastern Sudan since the signing of the East Sudan Peace Agreement in October 2007.

The UK welcomes the stability that the East Sudan Peace Agreement has brought to the region and urges the parties to implement it fully and fairly. The UK is funding a UN programme to develop a comprehensive risk and threat mapping tool to provide a better understanding of local conflict dynamics, including in the East of Sudan, and to inform future aid programmes.

Sudan: Overseas Aid

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what representations he is making to ensure that the moratorium on humanitarian access to Darfur is extended in 2008. [173682]

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Mr. Thomas: During his recent visit to Sudan the UN’s Emergency Relief Co-ordinator, John Holmes, was given assurances by the Sudanese authorities that the moratorium will be extended beyond its January 2008 expiry. The UK is working closely with the UN and other international partners to ensure this undertaking is implemented promptly and in full. The primary mechanism for this lobbying is through the UN-Government of Sudan High Level Committee (HLC). DFID is about to assume the donor representative position on the HLC and we are pressing for a meeting as swiftly as possible.

Sudan: Peacekeeping Operations

Mr. Andrew Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what representations the Government have made to the UN Security Council to expedite the deployment of an effective UN-African Union force to Darfur, Sudan. [169113]

Mr. Jim Murphy: I have been asked to reply.

We have called for the early deployment of the UN-African Union force in Darfur (UNAMID) in the UN Security Council. We have been in close contact with the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO), which is responsible for generating the force in consultation with the African Union, on how we can speed up deployment: my noble Friend the Minister for Africa, Asia and the UN, the right hon. Lord Malloch-Brown, spoke to Under-Secretary-General Guehenno, Head of the DPKO, most recently on 6 December to discuss the issue. And my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary spoke about UNAMID with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on 7 December.

We are working closely with allies in the Security Council to co-ordinate efforts in support of the DPKO and continue to press all parties for the prompt deployment of an effective force to Darfur.

UK Search and Rescue Advisory Group

Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development when the UK Search and Rescue Advisory Group met in 2007; and if he will place minutes of the meetings in the Library. [170258]

Mr. Malik [holding answer 6 December 2007]: The United Kingdom International Search and Rescue Advisory Group (UKISARG) met five times in 2007 on the following dates:

Minutes of these meetings will be placed in the Library.

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Africa: EC Action

Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) when he expects the EU Special Committee ATHENA to approve an agreed budget for the EU mission to Chad/Central African Republic; [173729]

(2) when he expects the force generation for the EU military mission to Chad/Central African Republic to be completed. [173730]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: A third force generation conference for the proposed ESDP mission to Chad took place on 21 November, but with critical gaps remaining in the assets offered, further force generation is underway. We continue to work with partners to ensure the process is completed as soon as possible.

Once force generation for the mission has been completed, a budget for the mission common costs will be presented for agreement by the EU Special Committee under the ATHENA arrangements.

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