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We regularly assess the humanitarian organisations that we fund in order to verify the impact of our contributions. This includes monitoring their performance
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through telephone conversations and meetings, usually supplemented by a field visit to assess work on the ground.

DFID’s core humanitarian contributions to United Nations relief agencies are accompanied by Institutional Strategies agreed with each agency. New Institutional Strategies include a performance framework which we use to assess annual performance and guide us in releasing funds.

Palestinians: Education

Harry Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment he has made of the operation of the staging area in Israel for the transfer of humanitarian aid into Gaza; and what account he has taken of the effect of the recent conflict and lack of accessibility on the delivery of this aid. [255047]

Mr. Douglas Alexander: Access to Gaza is a long-standing humanitarian issue which has been exacerbated by the recent conflict.

Staging areas are operating efficiently and have the capacity to scale up should access to Gaza and subsequent service demand from humanitarian agencies increase. As of 6 February the logistics cluster had dispatched 1,980 pallets of cargo to the Gaza strip through Kerem Shalom border crossing, for 22 humanitarian organisations. For example, the UN reports that only 20-25 types of relief items out of 4,000 needed are getting in.

The UK Government will continue to press for improved access so that humanitarian aid is able to reach those that most need it.

Palestinians: Overseas Aid

Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development (1) what recent assessment he has made of the distribution of aid in Gaza; [255926]

(2) what recent discussions his Department has had with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency on the distribution of aid in Gaza; [255927]

(3) what steps his Department is taking to increase access to aid in Gaza; [255928]

(4) to what projects his Department has allocated the £27 million funding committed to meet the needs of the Palestinian people in Gaza; and if he will make a statement. [255950]

Mr. Michael Foster: I refer my hon. Friend to the answer given by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State to my hon. Friend the Member for City of Chester (Christine Russell) on 11 February 2009, Official Report, column 1351.

Further information on the allocation of the £26.8 million of funding is available on the DFID website:

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps his Department is taking to support the opening of crossing points to facilitate the movement of aid into Gaza. [256033]

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Mr. Douglas Alexander: The UK Government, together with the EU and other actors, continues to call for immediate and unhindered access to Gaza for humanitarian aid and personnel. We continue to discuss the issue with the UN, as well as press the Government of Israel to open the crossings.

Peace Negotiations: Women

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development with reference to the UK National Action Plan on UN Security Council Resolution 1325, what steps the Government is taking to ensure the needs of Afghan civil society, with particular reference to local and national women’s organisations, are taken into account in the reconstruction of Afghanistan. [246213]

Bill Rammell: I am aware of the difficult situation many women in Afghanistan still face. Our embassy officials regularly discuss women’s rights with members of the Afghan government, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and Afghan parliamentarians.

The Government work to enhance the status of women in three main ways: through policy engagement with the Afghan government; through support for national programmes and services, which benefit women; and through bilateral programmes. Despite the challenges, progress has been made: over a third of children now in school are girls and we have committed over £35million to support the Afghan government’s micro-finance programme, giving women in particular better access to finance. 27 per cent. of seats in the Lower House of the Afghan Parliament are held by women.

Our main support is channelled through the Afghan government, since gender inequality is a deeply embedded and long-term problem which needs a strategic approach. We have worked, for example, with the government to ensure that gender equality is integrated into the Afghanistan National Development Strategy.

We are giving £500,000 to support a five-year Women’s Empowerment programme (2005-10), implemented by the NGO Womankind. The programme focuses on promoting women’s equal participation in governance; building awareness of women’s rights among civil society and policy makers; and on providing educational, health, community and psycho-social support to women affected by violence and conflict. Womankind implements its programmes through local Afghan women’s NGO’s, helping to build Afghan capacity.

Since its establishment in 2002, we have given over £1.75 million to support the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC), including £200,000 this year to support its 2009-10 Action Plan. The Commission is a cornerstone of Afghan civil society, with over 500 staff working to improve respect for human rights across Afghanistan. A large part of the Commission’s work focuses on women’s rights, including documenting and tackling violence against women.

The AIHRC now has representatives in Helmand province, who are helping support the new Women and Children’s Justice group, established in Lashkar Gah in August 2008. Run by prominent female members of the community, the Group is developing and implementing practical programmes on the ground to support women and children’s rights and justice issues.

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More information on progress against the UK’s National Action Plan, in Afghanistan and elsewhere, can be found on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website, which is updated periodically:

Peers Interests

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development whether Ministers in his Department received representations from (a) Lord Moonie, (b) Lord Taylor of Blackburn, (c) Lord Snape and (d) Lord Truscott in the last seven months. [255232]

Mr. Douglas Alexander: Ministers at the Department for International Development received no representations from Lord Moonie, Lord Taylor of Blackburn, Lord Snape or Lord Truscott in the last seven months.

United Nations: Climate Change

Mr. Andrew Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what (a) financial and
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(b) in-kind contribution his Department made to the United Nations Adaptation Fund in 2008-09; what allocation he plans to make to the Fund in each of the next three financial years; whether such contributions are earmarked for specific projects; and whether such contributions will be repaid. [256622]

Mr. Thomas: The Department for International Development (DFID) provided an advance of £500,000 to support the set-up of the Adaptation Fund (AF) in 2008-09 and has pledged up to £500,000 more if needed for the same purpose, making the UK the biggest contributor to the AF Board so far. Decisions on how our contributions are used are taken by the AF Board. The fund’s main source of income will be from a 2 per cent. levy on proceeds from Certified Emissions Reductions generated by the Clean Development Mechanism. Decisions on contributions beyond the 2 per cent. levy to the AF will be made when it becomes operational, and when its future role and scale becomes clearer through the climate change negotiations. DFID is also providing advisory support with 20 per cent. of a senior adviser’s time as the UK alternate member of the AF Board, and support by other DFID and DECC staff working on climate change.

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