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Democratic Republic of the Congo

Baroness Rawlings asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Amos: The Department for International Development is providing substantial help to efforts directed at reducing the suffering of civilians with urgent humanitarian needs in the DRC. This includes nutritional support to communities with high levels of malnutrition. Current humanitarian support amounts to approximately £4.29 million this financial year. This supports the following activities:

ICRCEmergency Appeal 2002 2,500,000
UN OCHAUN Appeal 2002: Emergency Humanitarian Interventions 500,000
MerlinEssential Referral Health, Kindu 648,825
MSFDungu Referral Hospital, Haut Uele 309,652
MSFHealth and Nutrition, Kisangani 202,839
MSFBasic Healthcare Support, Yahuma 129,652

DfID is also providing support to the World Food Programme through its core funding to an agreed work plan.

Ethiopia: HIV and AIDS

Baroness Rawlings asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What assessment they have made of the impact of HIV and AIDS on Ethiopia.[HL857]

Baroness Amos: Ethiopia has a generalised HIV/AIDS epidemic, with an estimated 2.1 million people affected.

The impact is substantial and will get worse as more of those already infected die. UNAIDS estimate that the number of adults and children in Ethiopia who

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died of AIDS in 2001 was 160,000, while the number of AIDS orphans was estimated to be 990,000, placing greater strain on the country's already stretched social services.

The current humanitarian situation in Ethiopia could also be complicated by the epidemic, as agricultural productivity can decline by as much as 80 per cent when a key family member is infected with HIV. Assets such as land and livestock are often sold to meet the cost of healthcare.

Global Health Fund: HIV and AIDS

Baroness Rawlings asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is their assessment on the performance of the Global Health Fund in tackling HIV and AIDS.[HL858]

Baroness Amos: The Global Fund was established in January 2002 and designed to provide drugs and commodities to fight HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria. Since then, it has established processes for soliciting and approving proposals and disbursing funds. In April 2002, the fund approved 616 million dollars of proposals, of which nearly 70 per cent of the resources requested were for HIV/AIDS. The first batch of grant agreements has been signed and the implementation phase is now about to start. The key challenge for the fund this year will be to ensure its resources support and build on country-led plans and processes for tackling the three diseases.

It is too early to assess the performance of this new financing instrument on HIV/AIDS, however DfID is positive on progress to date and will continue to closely monitor country-level impact.


Lord Judd asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What steps they are taking to ensure that in any military intervention in Iraq the 1949 Geneva Conventions and their additional Protocols will not be breached, especially with respect to ensuring that food and water supplies will not be jeopardised in such a way that the health and survival of the civilian population is endangered.[HL706]

Baroness Amos: No decision has been taken to intervene militarily in Iraq. The United Kingdom takes its international humanitarian law commitments extremely seriously. As a state party to the 1949 Geneva Conventions and their two additional Protocols of 1977, we observe the requirements of these and other international legal instruments and rules of customary international law which are binding upon us. We look to other states similarly to make every effort to meet their commitments.

Lord Judd asked Her Majesty's Government:

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    What evaluation they have made of food and water security in Iraq; and of the vulnerability of the supply system for food and water.[HL708]

Baroness Amos: Since Iraq broke diplomatic relations with the UK in February 1991, UK officials have been denied access to most of Iraq, making an independent and complete evaluation of food and water security impossible. However, UN reports show that under the UN Oil for Food programme access to food and potable water in Iraq has improved considerably since 1996. Approximately 78 per cent of the population in Baghdad-controlled Iraq, and up to 96 per cent in Northern Iraq, has access to potable water. UK humanitarian assistance to the Iraqi people also includes funding for rehabilitating water and sanitation facilities.

Lord Judd asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What analysis has been made of the relative costs of (a) an adequately staffed and resourced United Nations inspectorate in Iraq to contain the possibility of any deployment of weapons of mass destruction; and (b) a military intervention; if so, what was the outcome; if not, whether they will ensure that such an analysis is made without delay.[HL707]

The Minister for Trade (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean): The UNMOVIC inspection operation is funded by the diversion of 2.5 per cent of the funds accrued from the sale of Iraqi oil under the oil-for-food programme. UNMOVIC is, thus, effectively self-financing. With the exception of small ad hoc costs for supporting training programmes and the provision of some advisory services to UNMOVIC HQ, the UNMOVIC operation is cost-free as far as the UK is concerned.

No decision has been taken to launch military action. There has, however, been some preparatory and planning work undertaken. It is not possible to estimate the costs of any military action that might be undertaken.

Baroness Hilton of Eggardon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What are their policy objectives on Iraq.[HL926]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: As I have made clear to the House on a number of occasions, Her Majesty's Government's policy on Iraq is to ensure Iraq complies with its obligations under relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions (UNSCRs), including by giving up its weapons of mass destruction.

Her Majesty's Government's prime objective is to rid Iraq of its weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and their associated programmes and means of delivery, including prohibited ballistic missiles (BM), as set out in UNSCRs. This would reduce Iraq's ability to threaten its neighbours and the region, and prevent Iraq using WMD against its own people. UNSCRs also require Iraq to renounce terrorism, and return captured Kuwaitis and property taken from Kuwait.

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These UNSCRs are an expression of the will of the international community, with which Iraq has persistently failed to comply, thereby perpetuating the threat to international peace and security.

A further objective is to maintain the authority of the United Nations by demonstrating the Security Council's effective response to the challenge posed by Iraq's non-compliance. Success in achieving our prime objective should help deter the proliferation of WMD and BM more generally.

We have pursued these objectives through the United Nations, culminating in the unanimous adoption by the Security Council of UNSCR 1441 (2002) on 8 November 2002.

Her Majesty's Government's immediate priorities are to:

    (a) Support the work of the UNMOVIC/IAEA inspectors in Iraq;

    (b) Enable UNMOVIC/IAEA to institute long-term measures to ensure compliance as part of their ongoing monitoring and verification regime;

    (c) Maintain international solidarity behind the United Nations Security Council and support for effective UNMOVIC/IAEA action;

    (d) Preserve regional stability;

    (e) Continue to make military plans and preparations in case military action is required to enforce compliance by Iraq with its WMD/BM obligations under UNSCRs;

    (f) Continue to support humanitarian efforts to relieve the suffering of the Iraqi people.

We would like Iraq to become a stable, united and law-abiding state, within its present borders, co-operating with the international community, no longer posing a threat to its neighbours or to international security, abiding by all its international obligations and providing effective and representative government for its own people.

These objectives are consistent with wider government policy which includes:

    (a) Efforts to resolve other causes of regional instability, including the Middle East peace process;

    (b) Wider political engagement with Arab countries and the Islamic world;

    (c) Efforts to counter the proliferation of WMD; and

    (d) The elimination of terrorism as a force in international affairs.

To achieve our objectives we will act in conformity with international law, including the United Nations Charter and international humanitarian law.

Consistent with the above, we are working intensively with our allies and partners to secure the peaceful disarmament of Iraq's WMD by means of UNMOVIC/IAEA inspections. But as SCR 1441 makes clear, if the Iraqi regime does not comply, it will face serious consequences.

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