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As I have already said, we are working very hard in terms of taking forward two different resolutions under the UN. I refer to the Oil for Food programme and the wider reconstruction efforts. In that regard, I completely agree with my noble friend Lord Judd that strong leadership in the UN and in the field will be important.
Lord Wright of Richmond: My Lords, is the Minister aware that representatives of humanitarian agencies at a meeting last week emphasised not only that military action would lead to the immediate interruption of massive food aid to the Iraqi people but also that, if military action led to the destruction of generators and power plants, the fact that the Iraqis to a very large extent rely on piped water means that considerable supplies of drinking water will be required throughout Iraq? Will the Minister confirm that planning is in hand to take that into account?
Baroness Amos: My Lords, I can confirm that planning is taking both of those issues into account. On the possibility of the interruption to food supplies, DfID has already pre-positioned significant amounts of supplies, as has the World Food Programme, which has also indicated that it may need additional resources to pre-position more food. We indicated that we will contribute resources to that. Water and sanitation are clearly a prioritythey are a priority in the immediate aftermath of any conflict.
Lord Jopling: My Lords, bearing in mind the understandable problem experienced last night by the noble Baroness, Lady Symons, in answering all the questions raised, can the noble Baroness, Lady Amos, say whether her attention has been drawn to an article written just over three weeks ago in the New York Times, describing what was said to be the new office of post-war planning? The article stated that the post of director had been refused by David Kay, a former chief nuclear weapons inspector in Iraq, who, it was said, had considered taking up the post in this new body. He was quoted as complaining that promoting democracy had too little priority in the new office and that the mission itself was under-financed and poorly staffed. Can the Minister begin to deny that the approach to this problem has been too little, too late and dilatory?
Clearly, in the immediate aftermath of any conflict, reconstruction and humanitarian issues will need a great deal of co-ordination. That is where this department comes in. But, as I have already said in this House, we shall be working hard to bring this issue together under a UN umbrella because we believe it is important that the co-ordination of any reconstruction and humanitarian effort falls under a UN umbrella.
Lord Hannay of Chiswick: My Lords, can the noble Baroness say whether some effort will be made to ensure that co-ordination with the non-governmental organisations is set up at a very early stage so that we avoid the somewhat unseemly wrangling that went on in respect of Afghanistan between the non-governmental organisations and the coalition allies due to a lack of proper co-ordinating machinery? Secondly, is the noble Baroness prepared to say that at the European Council at the end of this week the Government will be working to obtain a firm commitment that the European Union will make a major contribution to humanitarian work and reconstruction in Iraq?
Baroness Amos: My Lords, I entirely agree with the noble Lord, Lord Hannay, that co-ordination at an early stage is important. That is why we have held regular meetings with the NGOs within a UK context and have shared information with them. We should like to see the co-ordination handled through the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs. But clearly we would need an agreed United Nations resolution to enable us to see that process put in place, and we shall be working towards that. I entirely agree with the noble Lord that we shall want as wide a group as possible to contribute to any humanitarian effort post any conflict. In that respect, the role of the European Union will be very important.
Baroness Whitaker: My Lords, while I am sure that the whole House appreciates the systematic and comprehensive approach of the Government to this disaster for the people of Iraq, there must remain some concern about the other calls on the resources of the
Baroness Amos: My Lords, I believe that the question of my noble friend Lady Whitaker was raised also by my noble friend Lord Judd. As noble Lords know, the DfID budget is set against very clear priorities which have been established over a period of time. We have long-term strategic partnerships with a number of countries. For example, we have a 10-year partnership with Rwanda and are considering a six-year partnership with the Government of Uganda. I can confirm to the House that the priority that we give to a range of development issues will continue.
Lord Turnberg: My Lords, my question for the Minister centres on the need to take advantage of opportunities being developed for humanitarian aid in other countries in the Middle East. Earlier today, I was very encouraged by a meeting that I had with representatives of the Shaare Zedek Hospital in Jerusalem, who described efforts that they were making to work with a major hospital in Amman in Jordan and in Ramallah in the Palestinian territories. They were developing plans jointly to provide humanitarian aid of a medical type in a co-ordinated way for the survivors of conflicts in Iraq and other places in the Middle East. Will it be possible for the UK to work with those organisations to support them and others which are working in a co-ordinated operation?
Baroness Amos: My Lords, noble Lords will know that we are making a major humanitarian effort in the Middle East region overall. Clearly, a key element in our humanitarian effort here will be support for refugees. I take my noble friend's point, and we shall consider ways in which we can achieve better co-ordination in what we do. I shall certainly take back the specific point about the organisation referred to by my noble friend.
Lord King of Bridgwater: My Lords, is the noble Baroness aware that at the time of the previous Gulf War, practically the entire British effort was paid for by contributions from the countries in the Gulf that most closely neighboured Kuwait and by Kuwait itself? Is the noble Baroness aware that, in addition to seeking maximum contributions from the EU, if Saddam Hussein is overthrown, some of the primary beneficiaries will be those adjoining countries? Although, from the point of view of timing, I do not necessarily expect a definitive answer now, I hope that firm representations will be made to those countries, which are not exactly impoverished by the current level of the oil price.
Of course, the UN resolutions are of the utmost importance and will give much confidence to sections of the public who have not been fully behind the war. Therefore, I hope that the Government will take extremely seriously the question of the UN resolution and that they will be willing to announce any progress on it.
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