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24 Jan 2005 : Column WA129

Written Answers

Monday, 24 January 2005.

Iraq: "Interim Government Statistics"

Lord Garden asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean): The Iraqi Minister of Health released a statement on 29 October 2004 in which he quoted the statistics referred to by my honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Bill Rammell) on 8 December 2004 (Official Report, col. 605W). I have placed a copy of the Iraqi Minister of Health's statement in the Library of the House.

Lord Garden asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: Iraqi Ministry of Health figures for the corresponding period of 16 June to 10 September 2004 show that 1,295 Iraqis were killed and 5,479 Iraqis were injured as a result of "military action". The context in which these casualties occurred was that of an ongoing insurgency, aimed at undermining the political process.

Iraq: Civilian Casualties

Lord Garden asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The Iraq authorities continue to monitor Iraqi civilian casualties. It is for them to decide when to make further information available.

Lord Dykes asked Her Majesty's Government:

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Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: As I explained in my Written Statement to Parliament of 17 November 2004 (Official Report, cols. WS 61-64), we believe that the Iraqi authorities remain in the best position to monitor the casualties of their nationals.

It would be impossible in many cases for non-Iraqi agencies to make a reliable assessment either of casualties resulting from particular attacks, or of the overall number of casualties since March 2003. The UK Armed Forces do not maintain records which would enable us to make a definitive estimate of the total number of civilian casualties arising during this time. An independent inquiry is highly unlikely to be able to gain better access and provide more accurate information on casualties than the Iraqi Government.

Iraq: Non-violent Death and Disease

Lord Garden asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The Iraqi Ministry of Health (MoH) is leading on monitoring the health of the Iraqi people and on improving the health service in Iraq, with donor support.

Funding for the health sector has increased significantly in Iraq since the end of the conflict. Routine vaccination has re-started and national polio and measles vaccinations were completed in September 2004. There have been no major outbreaks of disease since the end of the war. In addition the Department for International Development (DfID) has provided planning and policy advice to the Iraqi MoH in Baghdad and a health consultant to work on improving maternal health in southern Iraq.

DfID has provided £6 million to the World Health Organisation for work, which includes emergency assessments of health infrastructure, the rehabilitation of the national drug distribution system, and re-equipping health units in Baghdad and Basra. DfID has also provided £70 million to United Nations and World Bank trust funds for Iraq, which will be spent on priority sectors such as health and education.

Iraq: International Advisory and Monitoring Board Report

The Earl of Sandwich asked Her Majesty's Government:

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Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The latest report by the International Advisory and Monitoring Board (IAMB) is based on two audit reports conducted by KPMG, covering Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) management of the Development Fund for Iraq (DFI) from 22 May 2003 to 28 June 2004. Both audit reports conclude that, with the exception of smuggling, "the DFI Statement of Cash Receipts and Payment presents fairly, in all material respects, the receipts and payments of the DFI". The IAMB report recognises that "all known oil proceeds, reported frozen assets, and transfers from the Oil for Food Programme have been properly and transparently accounted for in the DFI".

Nevertheless, we acknowledge the concerns raised by the IAMB and its auditors. These concerns arose in large part due to the difficult operating conditions in Iraq after military action in April 2003. To address these difficulties the CPA took a number of steps to improve financial management and control over oil resources. These included:

The UK continues to help the Iraqi Government to ensure efficient and transparent financial management through a Department for International Development funded team seconded to advise the Ministry of Finance.

Under United Nations Security Council Resolution 1483 of 22 May 2003, the occupying powers shared joint responsibility for the actions of the CPA, including management of the DFI. The UK supported the establishment of the IAMB, an independent international board to oversee the auditing of Iraq's oil revenues and their management, so that the coalition was seen to discharge its financial responsibilities as occupying power properly.

Iraq: Cost of Operations

Lord Stoddart of Swindon asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My right honourable friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer set aside £3 billion in the 2003 Budget to cover the cost of operations in Iraq. £2 billion of this special reserve was carried forward to 2003-04. Costs to the Ministry of Defence in 2002-03 were £848 million and approximately £1.3 billion in 2003-04. It is too early to assess the military costs for 2004-05.

Total government commitment for reconstruction in Iraq is £544 million from April 2003 to March 2006.
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Iraq: Kirkuk

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: After the handover to the Iraqi Interim Government (IIG) on 27 June, the Provincial Council assumed responsibility for the civilian governance of the Province of Kirkuk. US forces (as part of the multinational force) remained in Kirkuk at the invitation of the IIG and are responsible for security in Kirkuk and Suleimaniyah Provinces in partnership with the Iraqi Security Forces, the Iraqi Police and the Iraqi National Guard. The future governance of Kirkuk is covered by Article 58 of the Transitional Administrative Law, which includes provision for a census and issues relating to the ethnic make up of the city and its province.

The Kirkuk Provisional Council established an internally displaced person (IDP) committee to address the needs of IDPs with the full support of the multinational force, the US Regional Office and the UK Embassy Office in Kirkuk. The committee has members from each ethnic group to ensure that the interests of all are fully represented.

Some 108,000 IDPs, 90 per cent of whom were Kurdish, were able to register for the elections during the first regular registration of voters in November and December. A supplementary registration period started on 17 January and will continue until 25 January in order for all eligible IDPs and re-settlers of villages destroyed under Saddam Hussein to be registered to vote in the national elections on 30 January. The Kirkuk office of the Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq has said that it expects a maximum of 102,000 further registrations to take place during the supplementary registration period.

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