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Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answer of 12 March 2009, Official Report, columns 621-22W, on the Democratic Republic of Congo: mining, what steps his Department has taken to promote good practice in (a) the exportation of minerals from the Democratic Republic of Congo and (b) the mining sector; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Ivan Lewis: We continue to work with other governments to identify ways to encourage companies involved in the trade of minerals from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to follow appropriate practices, and to promote the lawful trade of natural resources. Since the Answer of 12 March 2009 to which the hon. Member refers, we have agreed a series of recommendations, some of which stemmed from the research of British officials, with international partners.
We are carrying out research to determine whether British companies involved in the trade of minerals from DRC are acting in a way which might be subject to UN sanctions. We are also supporting implementation of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative in partnership with the World Bank, Germany, Belgium and the European Commission.
Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent assessment he has made of the (a) military equipment and (b) troops required for the UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo mandated by UN Security Council Resolution 1843; what steps he is taking to seek to meet such requirements; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Ivan Lewis: The UN peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUC) will be bolstered with the arrival of the additional infantry, engineers, and special forces mandated by UN Security Council Resolution 1843 in the next few months. Several member states have expressed interest in providing the 200 military trainers mandated, but at present the concept for their use is still being developed by the UN Secretariat. MONUC has not been able to acquire all of the air assets or intelligence equipment that it has requested. We continue to lobby the UN Secretariat and UN member states to contribute these assets to the mission.
Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent assessment he has made of the capacity of the UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo to protect civilians in (a) North and (b) South Kivu; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Ivan Lewis: In recent months, the UN peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUC) has enhanced its ability to protect civilians in the Kivus by reorganising its resources to a more mobile posture and through the creation of joint civilian and military protection teams. However, given the difficult terrain and mobility of rebel groups, MONUC is unlikely to be able to prevent all isolated attacks on civilians. But the additional troops that will arrive in coming months will further increase MONUC's capacity to implement its mandate.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent representations he has made to the government of Iran on the protection of religious and ethnic minorities. 
The Iranian authorities continue to prohibit the use of minority languages in schools, and ethnic groups such as Ahwazi Arabs, Azeris, Baluchis, Kurds and Turkmen face persecution and arbitrary arrest for campaigning for their basic rights. Many activists remain in detention on charges of endangering national security.
Iran's religious minorities continue to suffer gross human rights violations, including extra-judicial killings, detention without charge, confiscation of property, and denial of education. Such events appear to be increasingly commonplace, and are cause for serious concern.
Alongside our EU partners we have made clear to the Iranian authorities that the persecution of individuals
on the grounds of religion, belief or ethnicity is unacceptable. We have expressed concern about the persecution of ethnic minorities and, in a declaration of 25 May 2009, called on the Iranian authorities to uphold their international legal undertakings to safeguard religious freedom and to stop their persecution of legitimate religious activities.
Mr. Crabb: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how much (a) funding and (b) other assistance his Department has provided to support the National Accord in Kenya in the last 12 months. 
Mr. Ivan Lewis: The UK continues to support the implementation of the agenda 4 items set out in the National Accord, including on constitutional, judicial, police and electoral reform and the issue of impunity.
The UK is the leading donor to the Annan process, which supported the Kriegler and Waki Commissions, on which the reform process and the National Accord is based. We have provided £1.4 million in total support (£200,000 in 2007-08 and £1.2 million in 2008-09). We have provided additional support to civil society organisations to assist communities to reconcile and engage in the peace process. In the past two financial years, civil society support amounted to £1.2 million.
This financial year the UK has funded the provision of technical expertise to the police reform group, which was created following the recommendations of Justice Wakis Commission into the post-election violence.
We continue to urge Kenyas leaders to work together to ensure that the key reforms needed in Kenya are made. We will continue to offer our full support to Kofi Annan and his leadership role in the reform process.
Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent reports he has received on the role of the government of Egypt in the distribution of humanitarian aid to Palestinians living in Gaza; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Ivan Lewis: It is vital that aid reaches the people in Gaza who need it. The UK has been consistent in its calls for better humanitarian Access to the area. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has raised this issue on a number of occasions, most recently in his statement to the UN Security Council on 11 May 2009.
My predecessor, the hon. Member for Harlow (Bill Rammell) raised the issue of access through the Rafah Crossing for humanitarian aid providers with the Egyptian Government when he was in Egypt on 21 May 2009. All aid to Gaza from Egypt is channelled though the Egyptian Red Crescent.
Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent reports he has received of allegations that candidates for the Jaffna Municipal Council elections in Sri Lanka have been subjected to intimidation; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Ivan Lewis: We are aware of reports that some candidates in the upcoming mayoral elections in Jaffna have been the subject of intimidation by paramilitary groups. We have raised our concerns with the Sri Lankan Government about the prospects of violence and intimidation in the context of local elections in the north and regularly raise the need to disarm paramilitary groups and take decisive action to prevent their activities. The Government's consistent position has been that a political process, based on respect, inclusion and rule of law is essential to address the underlying causes of the recent conflict. Ensuring all elections are transparent, fair and free from intimidation is a crucial part of this process.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he has received any recent reports of the harassment of civil society organisations engaged in voter education and election monitoring programmes in Sudan. 
Mr. Ivan Lewis: The Government have received reports of harassment of civil society organisations engaged in elections work in Sudan. One report we have received relates to a recent incident when the Sudanese Government's Humanitarian Aid Commission visited a non-governmental organisation in Khartoum and prevented it from organising a meeting on the elections.
Such reports indicate a worrying approach towards freedom of expression in the run-up to the 2010 elections. Our ambassador is raising the issue of harassment of civil society organisations with the authorities in Sudan and calling on them to explain the steps they are taking to ensure freedom of expression.
The UK is committed to supporting nation-wide elections in Sudan now scheduled for April 2010. We are providing significant assistance to the preparations for the elections and are monitoring developments closely to ensure mat the elections are free and fair.
Ms Katy Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make it his policy to seek the inclusion of a human rights monitoring role for the United Nations MINURSO mission. 
Mr. Ivan Lewis:
The Government believe that greater openness and transparency on human rights by all the parties would create a significantly better environment for political dialogue between the parties. We do not believe including a human rights monitoring role in the UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara
(MINURSO) mandate at this time would build confidence between the parties or assist the UN-led negotiation efforts.
We support the call by the UN Secretary-General, in his latest report, for the parties to remain engaged in a continuous and constructive dialogue with the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and to make progress on the human dimension of the conflict.
Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has had with his international counterparts on regional security in (a) Asia, (b) the Americas, (c) Africa, (d) Europe and (e) the Middle East. 
Mr. Ivan Lewis: My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has regular discussions with his international counterparts on regional security issues, most recently during the G8 Foreign Ministers meeting in Trieste on 25-26 June 2009 and the informal meeting of Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe Foreign Ministers in Corfu on 27-28 June 2009.
Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what proportion of women who had an abortion in 2008 were married at the time of the abortion; what the modal (a) age of the women, (b) length of gestation of the pregnancy, (c) number of previous children born to the women and (d) number of previous abortions undergone by the women were; and what the most common legal grounds were under which such abortions were performed. 
|Most common( 1) conditions for married women( 2) having abortions in 2008|
|Total||Age||Gestation||Number of previous children||Number of previous abortions||Ground|
|(1) Statistical mode (highest frequency)|
(2) Includes women in a civil partnership
(3) That the pregnancy has not exceeded its 24th week and that the continuance of the pregnancy would involve risk, greater than if the pregnancy were terminated, of injury to the physical or mental health of the pregnant woman
Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many women aged (a) 18, (b) 17, (c) 16, (d) 15, (e) 14, (f) 13 and (g) 12 years old in each strategic health authority area who had had (i) one, (ii) two, (ii) three, (iv) four, (v) five, (vi) six, (vii) seven, (viii) eight, (ix) nine and (x) 10 or more previous abortions had an abortion in 2008. 
|Previous abortions by age under 19 and strategic health authority of residence, 2008|
|Strategic health Authority||Previous abortions||Under 18||18||Total under age 19|
Ages and number of previous abortions are grouped where totals are less than 10 (between 0 and nine) or where a presented total would reveal a suppressed value from previously published data, in line with the Office for National Statistics' guidance on the disclosure of abortion statistics (2005).
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