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9. Tony Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what measures her Department is taking to prevent violent conflict in Africa. [6121]

Clare Short: Violent conflict remains one of the biggest barriers to development in Africa. More than 20 countries in sub-Saharan Africa are currently affected by or recovering from violent conflict and 20 per cent. of the continent's population live in countries affected by armed conflicts.

We are also working jointly with the FCO and MOD to improve the effectiveness of the UK contribution to conflict prevention and resolution in Africa through a new joint funding arrangement. Our joint paper on the causes of conflict in Africa will be published shortly.

The UK Government are strongly committed to bringing the conflict in Sierra Leone to an end and promoting development for the people of Sierra Leone. It is essential that we do not have another failed UN peacekeeping operation in Africa.

27. Andy King: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what measures her Department is taking to support Africa's development efforts. [6139]

Clare Short: The Government are strongly committed to enhance international effort to promote development in Africa. We have in the past four years built strong programmes on a range of issues from conflict reduction to HIV/AIDS and education, to support for anti-corruption strategies. We are also leading the way in formulating innovative and new ways of disbursing funds, for example, providing direct budgetary support to those African countries with the most development focused policies.

This is a vitally important moment in the development of Africa. Not only have African countries recently joined together to agree the New African Initiative, but the Prime Minister has also signalled his own personal commitment to Africa in this Parliament, ensuring that it has also become a focus of the G8 for this year as well.

The New African Initiative is an African led movement to articulate what Africans themselves need to do, and the help they need from donors and the international community, in order to lift themselves out of poverty. DFID have been working closely with the leaders of the NAI to ensure that our response to it is based firmly on the priorities identified by African Governments.


10. Linda Perham: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if she will make a statement on her development priorities for India. [6122]

Clare Short: The UK was providing £60 million in aid to India in 1997. This figure is projected to increase to over £300 million by 2003–04 in acknowledgement of the fact that one third of the poor of the world live in India.

Our programme in India is aimed at helping government, at both national and state level, to deliver pro-poor policies and services. We are working closely with four partner states committed to poverty reduction, including on their programmes of fiscal and public sector

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reform. We are also working on increasing access to basic health, education, and water and sanitation services for the poor, on promoting better management of the natural and physical environment, and on promoting greater empowerment of the poor, especially women and the marginalized.

18. Mr. Gardiner: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what work her Department is undertaking in respect of the aftermath of the Gujarat earthquake. [6130]

Clare Short: In the immediate aftermath of the earthquake my Department's priority was to ensure that survivors received humanitarian assistance until normal services could be restored. Subsequently the Indian Government have developed plans for rehabilitation and reconstruction, largely funded by the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank. The UK makes contributions to both of these institutions. We have also offered assistance to the Indian Government to strengthen disaster preparedness arrangements across the country.


11. Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what discussions she plans to have with the Chinese Government about human rights in China following the 2008 Olympics decision. [6123]

Clare Short: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office leads for the British Government on the issue of human rights and raises this regularly and in depth with the Chinese Government. I have no specific plans to discuss human rights with the Chinese Government but would do so if an opportunity arose, as it did during my last visit to China in October 2000. DFID's expanding programme in China is focused on improving economic and social rights, ensuring that poor people benefit from China's economic growth.


12. Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what plans she has to help the people of Tibet. [6124]

Clare Short: The Department for International Development supports two projects in Tibet that are implemented by Save the Children UK. The goal of these projects is to provide basic services to poor Tibetan communities to improve their access to education, clean water and sanitation facilities. Our funding allocation for these projects is currently £1,227,500.

Global Health Fund

13. Mr. Hendrick: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if she will make a statement on the new Global Health Fund to combat malaria, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS in developing countries. [6125]

Clare Short: The Global Health Fund is being designed to make available more and better drugs and commodities for the prevention and treatment of malaria, TB and HIV/AIDS in the poorest countries. It will also provide some associated health systems strengthening to ensure supplies are delivered safely, effectively and equitably.

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Senior officials from my Department met with other donors, developing countries and multilateral agencies on 11–12 October in order to agree details so that the fund can be launched into operation by 1 January 2002. The UK has pledged US $200 million over five years. Total pledges to date amount to US $1.8 billion.

Sierra Leone

14. Mr. Lammy: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if she will make a statement on her Department's activities in Sierra Leone. [6126]

Clare Short: In Sierra Leone, my Department is promoting security, by giving substantial support to the police, helping to make the country's Ministry of Defence democratically accountable, and reintegrating ex-combatants from all sides who wish to return to civilian life, providing budgetary support, to help meet the direct costs of running the country and delivering government services, strengthening governance, including by supporting the newly created Anti Corruption Commission, reforming the judiciary, and helping the Government prepare for the elections due next year, and providing substantial support to meet the ongoing humanitarian needs of those displaced by the conflict.

20. Simon Hughes: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what support the Government are giving to (a) democracy building and (b) conflict resolution in Sierra Leone. [6132]

Clare Short: We are one of the principal donors providing technical and other support to the National Elections Commission, to help ensure that the elections scheduled for next May are conducted freely, fairly and fully in accordance with democratic principles. Much of the rest of our development programme promotes democracy indirectly, by strengthening the processes of governance. Examples include our work to increase the accountability of the agencies responsible for security (police, army, and intelligence services), our support for judicial reform, for reform of governance in the paramount chiefdoms, the anti-corruption commission, and for strengthening the ability of civil society and the media to scrutinise government policy. Conflict resolution is being addressed by our support to the processes of disarmament, demobilisation, and reintegration of ex-combatants. Here we are providing logistical assistance and other funding to the implementing agency, as well as funding a reintegration programme in Port Loko with the specific purpose of encouraging local communities to accept returning ex-combatants.


15. Mr. Reed: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what progress she has made in reducing the debts owed by the poorest countries to G7 countries. [6127]

Clare Short: The UK has encouraged other donors, including our G7 partners to provide substantial relief on their bilateral debts. All the G7 countries are now providing 100 per cent. relief on their bilateral debts for countries that have qualified for relief under the heavily indebted poor countries (HIPC) initiative.

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The UK Government go further than is required under the HIPC and provide 100 per cent. debt relief to countries when they qualify for HIPC relief. The UK Government have also announced that they would hold all debt payments received from HIPC countries in trust, and return those payments to countries when they qualify for HIPC relief. The policy covers all debts owed by Governments in these countries to ECGD and CDC, freeing up more resources for poverty reduction.

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