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14. Dr. Iddon: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement about the economic circumstances of Palestinians living in the occupied territories. 
Mr. Bradshaw: The on-going violence and Israel's response to the second intifadaabove all its policy of closureshas caused an enormous drop in incomes and living standards and a sharp drop in economic activity in the occupied territories. Levels of poverty have increased considerably from 21 per cent. at the start of the intifada, to at least 35 per cent. This means that about 1 million people exist on less than $2 per day. Unemployment is very high. Many people are just getting by thanks to savings and humanitarian aid.
33. Mr. Luff: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with the Archbishop of Canterbury about his meetings with other faith leaders and their implications for the middle east peace process. 
Mr. Bradshaw: We warmly welcome the inter-faith meetings convened by the Archbishop of Canterbury at Lambeth Palace and in Alexandria between 17 and 21 January. Dialogue and debate between the faiths is an essential part of mutual understanding. We particularly welcome the First Alexandria Declaration on the situation in the middle east, with its condemnation of the killing of innocents, and its call for a religiously sanctioned ceasefire and a return to negotiations.
15. Mr. Wareing: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what efforts are being made to ensure the safe return of Serbs who were forced to flee (a) Krajina and (b) Kosovo. 
Mr. MacShane: The Croatian Government have committed themselves to ensuring the safe return of Serbs to their former homes in Croatia by the end of 2002. We are continuing to remind the Government of the importance of honouring this commitment.
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We strongly support the right of Kosovo Serbs who fled their homes to return in safety. Belgrade and Pristina are now co-ordinating closely on this issue. Efforts are being spearheaded by the newly established UNMIK Office of Returns and Communities.
Mr. MacShane: The UK strongly supports the Colombian peace process, as I made clear in a press release on 23 January. We are particularly active in the EU. We have invited the Colombian presidential candidates to the UK to exchange views on the situation in Colombia, including prospects for the peace process.
17. Derek Twigg: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what diplomatic steps he is taking to secure the safe transportation of food and the essential supplies throughout Afghanistan. 
Mr. Bradshaw: The continuing provision of emergency humanitarian assistance to the Afghan people remains a key priority for the international community. To support this aim we continue to have an open dialogue with Afghanistan's neighbours, especially Pakistan, Iran and Uzbekistan, on keeping open the most important land corridors for the delivery of aid.
We are also working with the Interim Administration, the UN and other members of the international community to ensure that the security situation in Afghanistan continues to improve so that supplies can be delivered to the most vulnerable people.
20. Mr. Blizzard: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the capacity remaining for a base for international terrorism in Afghanistan. 
Mr. Bradshaw: Prior to 11 September, al-Qaeda camps in Afghanistan trained an estimated 10,000 extremists a year, some of whom went on to carry out international terrorist attacks. As a part of the highly successful coalition military campaign in Afghanistan, all these camps have been closed. While pockets of resistance remain, these have little opportunity to train and develop networks of terrorists.
Mr. Bradshaw: During her visit to London on 31 January, Dr. Sima Sumar, the Vice Chair of the Afghan Interim Administration and Minister for Women, met my right hon. Friends the Prime Minister, the Foreign Secretary, the Secretary of State for International Development, the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, the Secretary of State for Defence and myself. We discussed her priorities for improving the lives of women in Afghanistan and emphasised the Government's support for her work.
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My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary and I met my hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham, Deptford (Joan Ruddock) and a delegation of Afghan women from the UK Women's Link with Afghan Women on 24 January to discuss their priorities for reconstruction in Afghanistan.
Joan Ruddock: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps the UK Government are taking to ensure the protection of women from violence in Afghanistan, with particular reference to sexual violence. 
Mr. Bradshaw: The UK Government condemn all violence against women. The restoration of security and stability in Afghanistan will be an essential step towards ensuring their protection. The UK-led International Security Assistance Force is working with Afghans to establish security in and around Kabul. The establishment of trained police services will also be key. We welcome the offer by the German Government to train police in Afghanistan.
Joan Ruddock: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps the UK Government are taking to (a) recognise and (b) act on the demands of Afghan women addressed to the international community, as set out in the Brussels Proclamation of the Afghan Women's Summit in December of last year. 
Mr. Bradshaw: The Government believe that it is extremely important that the international community consults the women of Afghanistan themselves about their priorities. The UNIFEM Afghan Women's Summit, held in Brussels last December, marked a positive start.
The summit was the largest global gathering of Afghan women leaders to focus on the role of women in the new post-Taliban Afghanistan. It addressed the crucial needs of all the people of Afghanistan, focusing on health care, education, refugees and human rights. We hope that the international community will support the aims of the summit declaration, calling for a greater role for women in the future decision-making process in Afghanistan.
We welcome the pledge made by the Chair of the Afghan Interim Administration, Hamid Karzai, at the Tokyo Donors' Conference on 21 January to ensure that the needs of women are a priority in the reconstruction process. We welcome his commitment to ensure that girls get back to school.
We also welcome the establishment of the Women's Ministry and fully support the work of Dr. Sima Samar, Vice Chair of the Interim Administration and Minister for Women. We have long said that, while the form of the Government and constitution is for the Afghan people to determine, the future Government must be broadly based and representative of all Afghans. We have encouraged the involvement of women in the Afghan Interim Administration and the Special Commission for the Convening of the Loya Jirga, established under the Bonn Agreement, and expect that women will be involved in any future Government of Afghanistan.
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to ensure that the interests and role of women are being acted on during the initial phase of peace-building in Afghanistan. 
Mr. Bradshaw: We welcome the pledge made by the Chair of the Interim Administration, Hamid Karzai, at the Tokyo Donors' Conference that the needs of women should be a high priority in the reconstruction process. The people of Afghanistan are beginning to see real improvements in their lives. Girls are returning to school and university. Access to television and to international media will allow women to be better informed about the situation both inside their country and the wider world. Better access to health care and to education will afford women an improved standard of living.
As women return to work, their financial situation will improve. This is especially important for all the female heads of household who were destitute when deprived of their livelihoods by the Taliban restrictions on female working. Afghanistan has more than a million war widows. NGO and UN-run projects to get women back to work will have a huge impact on the lives of many Afghan women and children. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has also agreed to fund a project by a local Afghan women's NGO to help establish a quilt weaving co-operative as a means to providing a trade and an income for destitute women.
Mr. Bradshaw: We have given an allocation of $1 million to the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) for a programme to support Afghan women's leadership through awareness raising, capacity building and gender mainstreaming as well as local level, quick impact recovery projects supporting women. We are also in discussion with the Ministry for Women on how we can provide other support activities.
Our funding for UNIFEM will include support for gender mainstreaming within the reconstruction and peacebuilding strategies of the UN, inter-governmental bodies and regional organisations. This will involve awareness building and training initiatives.
Joan Ruddock: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps the UK Government and the international community are taking to ensure that the monitoring of the reconstruction work within Afghanistan takes into account its impact on women. 
Mr. Bradshaw: We strongly support the common programming approach under the United Nations-led Strategic Framework for Afghanistan, which is intended to provide a principled, co-ordinated and coherent approach to programming. One of its key themes is the protection and advancement of human rights, with particular emphasis on gender issues.
We recognise the need to build the capacity of Afghanistan's women to enable them to take full part in the reconstruction of their society, including the new Interim Administration, and to ensure that legal, constitutional and other provisions are not discriminatory against women. Our funding for support of Afghan
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women during the recovery and reconstruction of Afghanistan is being channelled through United Nations agencies and non-governmental organisations, who will work closely with the Interim Administration and who have expressed a commitment to involving Afghan women in the design, implementation and monitoring of their strategies and programmes.
To date this includes an allocation of $1 million to the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) for a programme to support Afghan women's leadership through awareness raising, capacity building and gender mainstreaming as well as local level, quick impact recovery projects supporting women. We are also in discussion with the Ministry for Women on how we can provide other support to its activities.
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