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13 Mar 2000 : Column WA173

Written Answers

Monday, 13th March 2000

British Embassy, Beijing: DfID Staff

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the present level of the Department for International Development establishment at the British Embassy in Beijing; how many are employed on a permanent basis or on contract; what are their terms of reference; and what was the comparable number of personnel five years ago.[HL1335]

Baroness Amos: The Department for International Development has five members of staff at the British Embassy in Beijing at present. All are on contracts of between two and three years. Their terms of reference are to manage the department's portfolio of bilateral development projects in China. DfID also funds three locally recruited members of staff, on annual contract to the Diplomatic Service Bureau, who provide administrative support. A fourth post is under recruitment.

There were no DfID staff in post five years ago. Prior to May 1999 bilateral projects were administered by Diplomatic Service staff in the Embassy as part of their wider duties, supported by locally recruited staff.

Mozambique: Helicopters for Relief Work

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty's Government:

    (a) how many helicopters are now available for relief work in Mozambique; (b) how many helicopters or trained pilots they have made available; and (c) how many helicopters have been offered by the Ministry of Defence.[HL1405]

Baroness Amos: There are now over 50 helicopters assisting in the relief operation in Mozambique. DfID inputs into the air operation have been:

    (i) US$1 million to support the continued air operations of the South African Defence Force; and

    (ii) direct provision of an additional 14 helicopters to the relief effort (including four from the Royal Air Force and four aboard RFA Fort George).

Sudan: Debt Cancellation

Lord Ahmed asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What plans they have to relieve Sudan's debts to Britain.[HL1339]

Baroness Amos: Britain cancelled Sudan's aid debts in 1979. Relief for export credit debt is available for countries that qualify for the Heavily Indebted Poor

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Countries (HIPC) initiative. Sudan is eligible for HIPC but does not yet qualify. The ongoing civil war continues to devastate the Sudanese economy.

Sudan: Humanitarian Need

Lord Ahmed asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is their assessment of the present humanitarian need in Sudan; and what steps they are taking to address the situation.[HL1373]

Baroness Amos: The World Food Programme has launched a $58 million appeal this year for 1.7 million people in need of emergency food in the Sudan. Non-government organisation (NGO) sources confirm that food supplies are relatively good at present and rates of malnutrition low. Western Upper Nile and Northern Bahr el Gazal are two areas of potential concern because of limited access. DfID and its international and NGO partners will continue to keep the situation under close review and respond as necessary.

Sudan: Diversion of Humanitarian Aid

Lord Ahmed asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is their estimate of the percentage of British, European and other humanitarian aid to Sudan that is diverted by the parties of the civil war.[HL1374]

Baroness Amos: No definitive figures are available on the proportion of humanitarian assistance diverted. We continue to watch this very closely and to press the UN and non-government organisations (NGOs) for action to improve the targeting of humanitarian aid and the cessation of diversions.

The recent expulsion of some of the largest relief agencies operating in southern Sudan raises further concerns over the transparency and accountability of future humanitarian operations.

Sudan: NGO Activity

Lord Ahmed asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Which British non-government organisations based in Britain are active in Sudan.[HL1337]

Baroness Amos: The following NGOs, all British-based or with British offices, have worked in Sudan this financial year with DfID funding:

British Red Cross/International Committee of the Red Cross.




Medicins Sans Frontieres.

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Save the Children Fund.

Tear Fund.

Other groups may also be working with funding from other sources. On 1 March 2000, a number of NGOs withdrew from areas of South Sudan controlled by the Sudan Peoples' Liberation Army because they were unwilling to sign an agreement controlling their activities.

Lord Ahmed asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Which British and foreign non-government organisations which are active in Sudan received funding directly or indirectly from the British Government in the fiscal years 1997-98 and 1998-99; and whether they will provide details of the funding provided by each organisation.[HL1338]

Baroness Amos: A table listing those non-governmental organisations which, during 1997-98 and 1998-99, received funding from DfID for projects in Sudan is attached.

DfID contributions to non-governmental organisations in Sudan in 1997-98 and 1998-99

Aktion Afrika Hilfe183,961--183,961
British Red Cross/International Committee Red Cross--2,250,0002,250,000
Christian Aid--124,716124,716
Medecins Sans Frontieres555,1492,837,2043,392,353
Ockenden Venture34,73648,42083,156
Save the Children Fund698,085743,7311,441,816
Tear Fund--48,69148,691
World Vision27,883286,395314,278

Lord Ahmed asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether any non-governmental organisation has been directly involved in supplying and transporting arms and ammunition, including anti-aircraft weapons and landmines, to combatants in the civil war in Sudan.[HL1342]

Baroness Amos: We have detected no evidence of non-governmental organisation (NGO) involvement in these activities. An EU arms embargo was initiated in 1994. We expect this to remain for as long as the civil war continues.

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Ethnic Monitoring in Business

Baroness Whitaker asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What steps they are taking to encourage best practice in ethnic monitoring among private sector employees.[HL1347]

The Minister of State, Department for Education and Employment (Baroness Blackstone): The Government, in partnership with the Commission for Racial Equality and others, are actively promoting voluntary ethnic monitoring as best practice to business. Employers are being encouraged to monitor both applicants for jobs and their workforce. This approach is being promoted in a number of ways, including by the Race Relations Advisory Service (RREAS), which works with employers to guide them in implementing race equality strategies. Nearly half of all employers who have worked with RREAS have introduced ethnic monitoring systems.

Ethnic Minority and Traveller Achievement Grant

Baroness Whitaker asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What the increased Ethnic Minority and Traveller Educational Achievement Grant will be spent on; and what targets have been set for 2000-01.[HL1345]

Baroness Blackstone: The Ethnic Minority and Traveller Achievement Grant is designed to raise standards for those ethnic minority and traveller pupils at risk of under-achieving and to meet the particular needs of pupils for whom English is an additional language.

We are making available more money than ever before as part of our drive to raise the academic achievements of those ethnic minority groups at risk of under-achieving. For 2000-01, £162.5 million will be available to local education authorities and schools to improve the attainment of ethnic minority, Traveller and refugee pupils--an increase of 7 per cent on the amount available for these purposes in 1999-2000. The formula used to allocate the ethnic minority achievement element of the grant in 2000-01 protected each authority's total grant in 1999-2000, while distributing additional funds on the basis of need.

As a condition of grant, local education authorities are required to submit detailed action plans to the Government for approval. These action plans must set out strategies for raising achievement, include information about the academic performance of ethnic minority pupils, and set targets for raising attainment levels.

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To assist in raising the achievement levels of ethnic minority pupils, we have recently published a new document, Removing the barriers. The document sets out a range of measures that have been successful in raising achievement at school level, in a form that is eaily accessible for busy teachers. We are also planning to develop a consultancy service for schools to help them address the needs of children from a minority ethnic background. In addition, we will be disseminating information on good practice through a new website and setting up regional networks to help teachers share knowledge and expertise with each other.

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