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Palestinian Authority

27. Mr. Simon Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if she will make a statement on how much aid has been given to the Palestinian Authority. [54764]

Clare Short: The international community has provided financial and technical assistance to the Palestinian Authority since the Oslo Peace Accords of 1993 and 1994. This has been designed to support the delivery of basic social services, and help develop the capacity of the Palestinian Authority to participate effectively in the peace process. Total donor assistance since 1994 (figures most readily available) for the Palestinian Territories and for Palestinian refugees was $3.87 billion.

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The major contributor has been the European Commission, the UK share of which comes from the Department for International Development budget. Between 1994 and 2001, EC aid for the period totalled euro 1.446 billion. The UK share of this is an estimated euro 245 million. Over the same period, the World bank provided about £13 million between 1994 and 2001. The UK share was £650,000.

UK bilateral aid for the period 1996–97 to 2001–02 totalled £48.838 million. Between 1997 and 2001, the UK also provided £65.9 million to UNRWA for Palestinian refugees.

Sierra Leone

28. Simon Hughes: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what support she plans to give to Sierra Leone. [54765]

Clare Short: We intend maintaining a development programme of around £40 million annually over the next few years. Our primary aims are to help the Government restore and maintain security throughout the country, improve standards of governance, help ensure better management of the country's diamond resources, and combat the endemic corruption that has put a brake on the country's developmental progress.

Middle East

29. Richard Burden: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if she will make a statement on the impact of recent Israeli military actions on British and EU-funded development projects in the west bank and Gaza. [54766]

Clare Short: The recent escalation of the conflict has resulted in the destruction of infrastructure, damage to private property and government buildings. This includes British and other European-funded development projects. It has clearly had a dramatic effect on the Palestinian people—further endangering livelihoods, disrupting the delivery of basic services, and undermining the institutions of government. But the high morale and dedication on the part of project staff and community partners has often enabled good progress to continue in the most adverse conditions.

Together with our EU partners we have raised with the Israeli authorities grave concern about the damage to EU and other donor-funded projects and demanded that this practice stop. The EU has reserved the right to demand compensation.

Criminal Offences

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how many criminal offences have been (a) created and (b) abolished by her Department since 1997. [55427]

Clare Short: No legislation introduced by the Department for International Development since 1997 has contained criminal law provisions.

Southern Africa

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how much aid is being

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provided to each country in southern Africa this year (a) through her Department's bilateral aid budget and (b) via the EU aid budget. [55879]

Clare Short: DFID plans to spend £40 million this year through its bilateral programme for the five countries of the Southern African Customs Union (Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa and Swaziland). This will be spent partly on activities in individual countries, and partly on regional activities covering several countries.

The EU does not publish expected annual disbursement figures for the current year. In 2001, the EU spent 5 million euro in Botswana, 12 million euro in Lesotho, 11 million euro in Namibia, 112 million euro in South Africa and 7 million euro in Swaziland. The UK contributes 19 per cent. of the EU's spending in South Africa (which is from the EU budget), and 12.7 per cent. of the EU spending in the other four countries (which is from the European Development Fund).

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what actions her Department is taking to prevent the occurrence of famine in southern Africa this year. [55893]

Clare Short: We have provided £13 million for feeding programmes in Malawi and Zimbabwe. We are in contact with the World Food Programme who, once their assessments in the countries affected are completed, will confirm regional needs in early June.

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment she has made of the possibility of famine in southern Africa this year. [55899]

Clare Short: We have been monitoring food shortages in the region since September 2001. Six countries in southern Africa will not produce sufficient maize to meet their requirements this year. Localised food shortages are likely to occur as household stocks run out.


Tony Baldry: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what recent representations her Department has received on the siting of an airport for Montserrat. [55702]

Clare Short: Following an assessment of the options, the Government of Montserrat has selected Gerald's Park as the site for a new airport. Although some reservations about this decision have been raised by a local non- governmental group, detailed design work is proceeding. I shall be writing to the hon. Member about this shortly, in response to his letter of 28 April.


Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development (1) what recent discussions she has had with the Israeli Government regarding the destination of UK funds provided to the Palestinian Authority; [55895]

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Clare Short: The allegations made by the Israeli Government about the misuse of European development funds relate to budgetary support provided through the European Commission (EC). Commissioner Patten wrote to EU Foreign Ministers on 7 May stressing that to date the EC has had no evidence corroborating the allegations that EU moneys have been misused to finance terrorist activities; or for anything other than their original purpose. The EC attach strict conditionality to the direct budgetary assistance provided to the Palestinian Authority (PA). The conditions mainly reinforce the need for transparency on the PA's public finances, strengthening the prudent management of the budget, and encouraging progress on overall financial and administrative reform. We are satisfied that the EC, with the assistance of the IMF, is ensuring the conditions are met.

Child Soldiers

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what organisations her Department supports which are working for the disarmament, demobilisation and rehabilitation of child soldiers. [55898]

Clare Short: We are working with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Ministry of Defence to prevent and manage conflict through the Africa and Global Conflict Prevention Pools. We are contributing £3 million from the Global Conflict Prevention Pool to UNICEF over a three-year period to build its capacity to implement programmes which will prevent children becoming involved in, or otherwise affected by, armed conflict, including the disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration of child soldiers. This is part of a broader capacity building programme designed to strengthen UNICEF's programming in crises and conflicts.

£3 million is also being contributed from the Global Conflict Prevention Pool to the UN Secretary-General's Special Representative for Children to support his advocacy and research work to reduce the impact of conflict on children, including the use of child soldiers by state and non-state actors alike. The work of these two institutions spans a wide range of countries in Africa, Asia and Europe.

We are also supporting the Quakers Office in New York to carry out a research programme into the experiences of girl soldiers, a little-acknowledged and researched aspect of child-soldiering, including disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration issues.

DFID collaborated with the Government of Sierra Leone, UNICEF and other partners in the DDR programme in Sierra Leone, which resulted in the demobilisation of 6,485 child soldiers. DFID continues to support local communities involved in the reintegration of ex-combatants, many of whom were recruited as children.

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Through its regional offices, DFID has also supported Save the Children UK in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and in Sudan to help demobilise and reintegrate child soldiers. Similarly, in Rwanda DFID has supported UNICEF to help reintegrate child soldiers into communities.

On 12 April, the UK pledged £25 million contribution towards the World bank Multi-Country Demobilisation and Reintegration Programme for the Great Lakes region. This programme is aimed at the disarmament, demobilisation, and reintegration of some 350,000 soldiers and militia in the region. It is envisaged that part of this $500 million programme over five years will include the demobilisation and reintegration of child soldiers.

The UK was among the first 60 states to ratify the statute of the International Criminal Court, which will come into force in July 2002. This statute makes it a war crime to recruit or use children under 15 in armed conflict.

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