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24 Jun 2008 : Column 289W

Somalia: Human Rights

Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether the Government supports the proposal to widen the mandate of the UN Panel of Experts for Somalia to include an Independent Commission of Inquiry into human rights abuses; and if he will make a statement. [212289]

Meg Munn: The UK continually insists that human rights are fully respected by all parties in Somalia and has joined its international partners in clearly saying so in UN Security Council Resolutions, Communiques of the Somalia International Contact Group and Resolutions of the UN Human Rights Council.

The UK fully supports both the UN Security Council Resolution 1814, unanimously adopted on 15 May 2008, and the EU General Affairs and External Relations Council Conclusions, adopted on 26 May, in support of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, including the Independent Expert for Somalia, and encourage them to undertake a fact-finding and assessment mission to Somalia to address the human rights situation.

Somalia: Peacekeeping Operations

Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answer of 11 March 2008, Official Report, column 333W, on Somalia: peacekeeping operations, what steps the Government are taking with its international partners to ensure the full deployment of the African Union Mission in Somalia. [212281]

Meg Munn: My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has discussed ongoing Ugandan troop deployment to the African Union mission to Somalia with President Museveni. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary and my noble Friend the Minister for Africa, Lord Malloch-Brown, have also raised deployment to the mission with Ghana and Nigeria.

Somalia: Piracy

Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what (a) financial and (b) logistical support the Government is giving to enforce UN Security Council Resolution 1816 (2008) on piracy in the waters of the Somalian coast. [212294]

Mr. Jim Murphy: The UK is not currently providing financial or logistical support to enforce UN Security Council Resolution 1816 (2008), although we provide financial assistance in support of the African Union mission in Somalia (about £8 million in the last financial year). The EU General Affairs and External Relations Council of 16 June welcomed the unanimous adoption of the resolution and asked that all possible options are considered on how best to contribute to the implementation of the resolution. We will continue to work with our international partners to tackle the issue of piracy. The prevention of global conflict, which includes piracy, is a key foreign policy objective for the Government.


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Sri Lanka: Press Freedom

Mr. Evennett: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent reports he has received on freedom of the press in Sri Lanka. [212335]

Dr. Howells: Sri Lanka is ranked at 156 out of 169 entries in the Reporters Sans Frontières Worldwide Press Freedom Index. We are concerned about a growing number of attacks and about incidents of intimidation against journalists. Our high commissioner in Colombo raised a number of these cases and the wider issue of media freedom with the Sri Lankan government earlier this month.

Sudan: Peace Negotiations

Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of progress towards the implementation of plans under the Comprehensive Peace Agreement for disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration in Sudan under UN Security Council Resolution 1784 (2007); and if he will make a statement. [212291]

Meg Munn: The North and South Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration (DDR) Commissions lead on DDR in Sudan with international support from the UN Integrated DDR Unit (UNIDDRU). The UK works closely with the Governments in the North and South, and the UN on DDR, and provides support for capacity building and reintegration expertise in the North and South DDR Commissions and in the UNIDDRU. The parties have agreed a national DDR plan and reintegration policy which provides DDR support for 182,900 ex-combatants, equally split between north and south, over four years. This will be a complex and expensive process requiring commitment from both the Government of National Unity and the international community.

Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the effect of the movement of the Lord’s Resistance Army from Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo on (a) the security situation in southern Sudan and (b) the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. [212292]

Meg Munn: We are aware of reports of Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) attacks in southern Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic which have had a detrimental effect on security in those countries.

The Juba peace process has, over the past two years, increased peace and security in northern Uganda and the surrounding region. The draft Final Peace Agreement between the Ugandan Government and the LRA represents a considerable achievement. The Government have called for it to be signed as soon as possible while recognising that full implementation will depend on the agreement of all parties.


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UN World Conference against Racism

Mrs. Ellman: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent reports he has received on the arrangements for the Durban review conference on racism to be held in Geneva; and if he will make a statement. [212386]

Meg Munn [holding answer 19 June 2008]: Government officials continue to attend all meetings that deal with the preparations for the Durban Review Conference. The most recent discussions have focused on practical arrangements and procedures for the Review Conference, rather than on substance.

Zimbabwe: Overseas Investment

Mr. Swire: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will take steps to identify those companies which are (a) trading with Zimbabwe and (b) providing services to Zanu-PF in connection with the re-run of the presidential elections which are (i) UK based, (ii) UK owned and (iii) have UK holding companies. [212823]

Meg Munn [holding answer 20 June 2008]: The EU Common Position consists of a travel ban and asset freeze on Robert Mugabe and 130 people associated with his regime, most of whom are members of ZANU-PF. Targeted measures are designed to impact on the regime, not on the general population of Zimbabwe. Consistent with this, there are no EU or UK specific economic sanctions that prevent British companies from trading in Zimbabwe.

International Development

Afghanistan: Schools

Mr. Lancaster: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what information his Department holds on the number of (a) primary and (b) secondary schools in each district of Helmand province, Afghanistan which were open and operating in each of the last eight years. [212384]

Mr. Douglas Alexander: The Department for Education (DoE) in Helmand collects information on education in Helmand. While data collection has improved recently, historical data are incomplete.

According to the DoE, there are currently 224 registered schools in Helmand, 29 of them secondary schools. There is one teacher-training college, one agricultural college and one technical college. However, only around 50 of these schools are open and active, three of them secondary schools.

The breakdown by district is as follows:

There are no figures for Garmsir, Dishu, Kaneshin, Kajaki or Washir districts.


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Where schools have closed due to the security situation in Helmand, it is common for informal education to run out of houses or in mosques. Some communities have been seeking to formalise such arrangements as outreach classes connected to hub schools in accordance with the National Strategy for Education, allowing the use of the formal curriculum and textbooks.

Asia: Economic Growth

Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what research his Department has commissioned on the consequences of rapid economic growth in Asia, with particular reference to the consumption of environmental resources in the last three years. [212713]

Mr. Douglas Alexander: There has been no general research commissioned on this subject. However, a study has been carried out on ecosystems and poverty alleviation in South Asia. This was completed in April 2008. Under the Sustainable Development Dialogue with China, we will be carrying out a joint research project with the Chinese on how to achieve sustainable long-distance fisheries.

Asia: HIV Infection

Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps his Department is taking to tackle the spread of HIV and AIDS infection in East and South-East Asia. [212711]

Mr. Douglas Alexander: DFID is supporting action on HIV and AIDS through its country programmes in Burma, Cambodia, China, Indonesia and Vietnam. In Burma, DFID is contributing funds through a £20 million contribution to a $100 million joint donor health fund, which includes support to activities in line with the national strategic plan for HIV prevention, treatment and care. In Cambodia, DFID has provided £15.6 million over five years to support the Government of Cambodia’s response to HIV and AIDS, and £7.1 million for support to condom social marketing, which is aimed at improving condom use among high risk groups. In China, DFID is providing £30 million over four and a half years to help the Government of China’s national HIV and AIDS programme. This is part of a £92 million programme that is also supported by the Global Fund to fight AIDS, TB and Malaria. In Indonesia, DFID has contributed £25 million over three years through the Indonesia Partnership Fund, which supports a National Action Framework on HIV and AIDS. In Vietnam, DFID is contributing £17 million over five years in a joint HIV prevention programme with Norway.

In the period 2004-05 to 2006-07 total bilateral expenditure on HIV and AIDS in East and South East Asia was £83 million. DFID also provides multilateral assistance to a range of organisations, some of which is used to tackle HIV and AIDS in South East Asia. For example, DFID has provided over £180 million in core support to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria over the period 2004-05 to 2006-07. A summary of DFID expenditure in the region is shown in the following table:


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DFID bilateral expenditure on HIV and AIDS, 2004-05 to 2006-07
£000
2004-05 2005-06 2006-07

Vietnam

3,062

3,095

3,023

China

5,306

5,862

5,221

Cambodia

5,775

6,541

5,807

Burma

3,617

3,965

3,860

Indonesia

76

12,024

12,128

East Timor

1,000

1,399

Philippines

82

128

84

South East Asia

245

495


Burma: Human Trafficking

Mr. Sarwar: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assistance has been given to (a) aid agencies and (b) the government of Thailand to retrieve children trafficked out of Myanmar. [212261]

Mr. Douglas Alexander: The Department for International Development (DFID) is supporting a £2.5 million regional Save the Children programme to work against the trafficking and exploitation of migrant and vulnerable children. The programme operates in six countries in south-east Asia: Thailand, China, Laos, Cambodia, Burma and Vietnam. The goal of the programme is to ensure that effective mechanisms are established to protect vulnerable in-country and cross-border migrant children from harm, abuse, and exploitation, particularly trafficking. Models of child protection systems are being developed and promoted for the children most at risk as a result of in-country and cross-border migration.

Burma: Storms

Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment has been made of reconstruction needs in Burma following Cyclone Nargis; and if he will make a statement. [212290]

Mr. Douglas Alexander: A 250-strong Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)-United Nations (UN) assessment team is currently in country working alongside the UN, INGOs and government to carry out needs assessments in cyclone-affected areas. Their first report is expected on 24 June, and this will provide us with information about reconstruction requirements. We are aware that there are likely to be significant longer-term reconstruction needs and will consider options for assisting with reconstruction. But our current focus is on responding to the immediate humanitarian effects and needs for relief and early recovery.

Cambodia: Overseas Aid

Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what funding allocations his Department has made to Cambodia under the auspices of the International Health Partnership in the last three financial years. [212712]


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Mr. Douglas Alexander: Cambodia signed the International Health Partnership (IHP) in September 2007. We are currently designing a £30 million contribution to a new multi-donor five-year programme of support to the health sector under IHP. The new programme will start in January 2009 and will pool donor funds in support of service delivery and improved resource allocation. In addition to this, over the last three financial years through the Health Sector Support Project we have provided the following core support to the health sector:

This does not include wider dedicated support for HIV, reproductive health and maternal mortality reduction.


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