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To ask Her Majesty's Government what action they are taking to enlist the support of countries adjacent to Afghanistan to promote solutions within that country which accord with those countries' reasonable national interests.[HL659]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right honourable friend the Member for Richmond (Yorks) (Mr Hague) attended the ministerial summit on the Istanbul Process in Kabul on 14 June to signal our political support for regional co-operation on Afghanistan. At the summit, Afghanistan and its neighbours agreed to take forward seven confidence-building measures in security, economic and cultural fields. The UK is a supporter of this regionally owned process and has pledged to provide assistance in a number of fields. We will continue to work closely with the Afghan Government and neighbouring countries.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will make representations to the Government of Afghanistan regarding the implementation in areas they control of the law on elimination of violence against women of 2009.[HL654]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): Working alongside our international partners, we continue to press the Afghan Government to implement their national and international human rights commitments, including the elimination of violence against women law and the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their assessment of the estimate by Human Rights Watch in their report I Had To Run Away that in January 2012 there were approximately 400 women and girls in prison in Afghanistan for "moral crimes", such as deserting a husband, reporting honour killings, and reporting female genital mutilation; and whether they will make representations to the Government of Afghanistan on these issues.[HL655]
Lord Howell of Guildford: I refer the noble Lord to the Answer given by the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, my honourable friend the Member for North East Bedfordshire (Mr Burt) in the other place on 24 April 2012 (Official Report, Commons, col. 832W).
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The UK is fully committed to securing a robust and effective, legally binding arms trade treaty at the diplomatic conference in July 2012. A copy of the latest version of the chair's paper on the arms trade treaty is attached to the Report of the Preparatory Committee. A copy of the report can be found on the United Nations website (www.un.org/disarmament/ATT/) and I will arrange for a copy to be placed in the House.
|Number of passengers flying from each London airport, 2007-11|
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To ask Her Majesty's Government whether any talks agreed by the United Kingdom Prime Minister and the Prime Minister of Mauritius at their meeting on 8 June will cover the return of the Chagossian people, the restoration of Mauritian sovereignty over the Chagos Islands, and the ability of Mauritius to participate in the 2014 negotiations concerning the 1966 agreement between the United Kingdom and the United States, which expires in 2016. [HL633]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The meeting held on 8 June was to sign a Memorandum of Understanding on Piracy. The British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT) was raised but there was no detailed discussion of the return of the Chagossians, though the Mauritian Prime Minister stated that he thought that the islanders' way of life was sustainable on the islands. There was no commitment to talks with Mauritius on the sovereignty of BIOT, over which the UK has no doubts: the islands have been British since 1814. Nor was there a commitment to involve Mauritius in any extension of the 1966 Exchange of Notes.
Lord Wallace of Saltaire: Registration thresholds are one of the issues being considered by my noble friend Lord Hodgson as part of his statutory review of the Charities Act 2006. The review will make recommendations on the legal framework for charities and is on course to report this summer. A copy of the report of the review will be laid in Parliament. It would not be appropriate to comment until the review has reported and made its recommendations.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): Trade, alongside aid and investment, has a critical role to play in generating economic growth and tackling poverty in developing countries. Her Majesty's Government are a firm supporter of schemes that offer developing countries preferential access for their products to developed country markets. The European Union's (EU) Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) scheme is the main mechanism for offering such preferential market access to European markets.
The United Kingdom has been very active in the negotiations on a revised version of the EU GSP scheme, which is due to replace the current scheme from 1 January 2014. This has resulted in an extension of the eligibility criteria for additional preferences under the GSP Plus sub-scheme, which has the potential to benefit Pakistan and the Philippines, together with an increase in the range of products which can be exported to the EU on a duty-free or reduced duty basis. The UK argued against the European Commission proposal to exclude all upper middle-income countries
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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): Salt reduction is a government priority, and was the subject of one of the first pledges to be published when the responsibility deal was launched in March 2011.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how much assistance they provide to the people of Gaza (1) through humanitarian assistance, and (2) through any relevant budget lines of the Palestinian Authority. [HL743]
Baroness Northover: I refer the noble Baroness to the Answer given by the Minister of State for International Development, my honourable friend the Member for Rutland and Melton (Mr Duncan) in the other place on 12 June 2012 (Official Report, col. 427W).
Baroness Northover: Our programme is on track to deliver priority results in Gaza, including supporting 28,000 children to attend school through the construction of 14 new UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) schools, providing food vouchers to 5,750 of the poorest Gazans through the World Food Programme and providing 5,300 refugees with work and income through UNRWA's back to work programme each year until 2015. However, we are very concerned that the current movement and access regime affects both UK and international partners' programmes by significantly increasing the amount of time and resources needed to implement projects in Gaza.
We have consistently called on Israel to improve movement and access into and out of Gaza. We believe that easing restrictions will enhance Israel's security and are working with Israel and EU partners to achieve real changes on the ground.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what criteria they use to decide whether to employ private armed contractors to protect government officials when travelling to hostile environments overseas, rather than relying on British military personnel.[HL648]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The Foreign and Commonwealth Office uses both British military personnel and private armed contractors to protect staff and government officials when travelling overseas in high threat or dangerous areas. There are a number of factors which we take into account, including the availability of British military personnel; the practicability of British military working in a particular country; value for money; the capability of staff; and the operating security environment.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The department does not collect these data centrally. However, the National Health Service Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAA) screening programme does collect the requested data. Information from the programme shows that at March 2012 157,730 men have been screened.
A phased rollout of the national AAA screening programme began screening men aged 65 in spring 2009. It is expected that screening will be available across the whole of England by March 2013. The following table shows the initial screening outcomes for those men screened by the programme and the number of men referred to vascular surgery by year:
|Year||Initial scans||Aorta <3cm||3-4.4cm||4.5-5.4cm||5.5cm and above||Total 3cm or over||Number of referrals to vascular surgery|
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): We have agreed in principle to gift the ship to the National Museum of the Royal Navy. This is subject to the development of a viable heritage business plan for the ship and parliamentary approval. As well as the National Museum being able to fund the day to day responsibility for the ship, following decommissioning on 31 March 2011, a heritage plan is required to be developed in consultation with the Northern Ireland Executive and others.
Discussions are continuing between the National Museum of the Royal Navy and authorities in Northern Ireland. An announcement will be made when a decision has been made on the future of the former HMS "Caroline", which we expect to be in the summer.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): As a close friend of both countries, the UK welcomes the renewed engagement between India and Pakistan. We note the constructive steps taken to improve the bilateral relationship, particularly on trade, and see this as a positive development for regional security and prosperity. The UK Government encourage both sides to maintain a positive dialogue and regularly discuss the state of the India-Pakistan relationship with both parties, including during Prime Minister Gilani's recent trip to the UK in May and the visit by the Parliamentary Under-Secretary at the Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my honourable friend the Member for North East Bedfordshire (Mr Burt) to India in June 2012. However the scope and pace of this dialogue is for both countries to determine
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Howell of Guildford on 28 May (WA 113), when the European Union will decide whether to implement the ban on protection and identity insurance on ships carrying Iranian oil. [HL681]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The European Union Foreign Affairs Committee will meet on 25 June and will have the opportunity to consider two outstanding reviews in relation to the Iran oil embargo, including on protection and indemnity insurance. We expect the embargo and protection and indemnity insurance ban to take full effect, as already agreed, on 1 July. Until Iran takes serious steps to address serious international concerns about its nuclear programme, we will maintain the pressure.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Howell of Guildford on 28 May (WA 113), what advice they have given to ship owners planning to carry Iranian oil from July onwards.[HL682]
Lord Howell of Guildford: The European Union's decision to ban Iranian oil imports has been widely publicised since January and the regulation setting the framework was published in March. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has not issued advice directly to ship owners. However, there have been a number of discussions across government with relevant industry representatives.
Lord Howell of Guildford: Along with the rest of the international community, we remain gravely concerned about Iran's nuclear programme. Iran continues to flout multiple United Nations Security Council resolutions
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Lord Howell of Guildford: Iran's support to the Assad regime in Syria, including evidence of the supply of weaponry, is unacceptable and must stop. It is in stark contrast to the will of the Syrian people and a reminder of Iran's hypocrisy in claiming to support freedom in the Arab world.
We have raised these concerns with the Iranian Government. Most recently, my right honourable friend the Member for Richmond (Yorks) (Mr Hague) discussed Syria with the Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi on 14 June and urged Iran to use its influence to support full implementation of the Annan Plan.
We and European Union partners have placed travel bans and asset freezes on leading members of Iranian entities providing support to the Syrian regime. The European Union has put in place sanctions against the Assad regime, including an arms embargo.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what response they plan to make to the survey published on 9 June by the Association of Directors of Public Health on the transition of public health to local government. [HL782]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The department is working closely with directors of public health and their representative bodies. Departmental officials have discussed the content of the survey with the Association of Directors of Public Health as part of our ongoing engagement programme with professionals involved in the transition of public health functions from the National Health Service to local government.
Earl Howe: We expect the directors of public health and their teams to transfer to local authorities with their functions. This is the subject of ongoing discussions between primary care trusts and local authorities. Information on whether or not directors of public health personally intend to transfer to local authorities is not held centrally. The strategic health authorities are responsible for assuring the transition process to ensure that there is an effective transfer of roles and responsibilities.
Earl Howe: Primary care trusts and local authorities are currently working closely on transition plans that will identify the number of posts required in the new system from 1 April 2013. The HR Concordat published in November 2011 provides a framework for staff transfers when functions transfer between the National Health Service and local authorities.
Earl Attlee: Any decision to extend the London Underground network would be for the Mayor and Transport for London (TfL), who would need to ensure that funding was in place for such a scheme. We have no record of TfL making any representations on this matter recently.
The Government have committed to Transport Grant payments totalling £10.8 billion over four years to the Mayor and TfL, as jointly agreed during the Spending Review settlement in 2010. Under devolution, it is for the Mayor and TfL to determine how the transport grant is spent on London's transport priorities.
Baroness Northover: We are very pleased that the Prime Minister has been asked by the UN Secretary-General to co-chair the high-level panel on a framework to replace the millennium development goals (MDGs). Securing global agreement on a new development framework for after 2015 is a top priority for the UK. The Government have set up a dedicated team with staff from the Department for International Development (DfID) and other relevant government departments, all working together on this agenda.
The current priority for officials working on this agenda is to develop plans to ensure an inclusive process: we want to hear from all parties, including citizens (especially the most vulnerable and marginalised), the private sector and civil society. Working to encourage key countries and institutions, particularly in the south, to engage in the debates will also be essential to ensure plans for a new agreement on development are not dominated by donor countries this time round. On content, officials have undertaken analysis to assess the value of the MDGs, identifying where they have been successful, but also some of the weaknesses that we will want to see addressed in the post-2015 framework. Work has also been undertaken to assess the emerging challenges and opportunities for reducing poverty looking forward. In addition to this, DfID has also funded the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) to provide key policy outputs on post-MDGs through an accountable grant.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what are their plans for ensuring that the views of those living in poverty and inequality are included in any successor framework to the millennium development goals. [HL725]
Baroness Northover: Prime Minister David Cameron is delighted to have been asked to co-chair the high-level panel on the post-millennium development goals (MDGs) agenda. The Prime Minister, along with the co-chairs President Yudhoyono, from Indonesia, and President Johnson-Sirleaf, from Liberia, released a joint statement in which they said they look forward to "listening to many more voices to set out an ambitious, new agenda for ending poverty in the years beyond 2015". The Prime Minister has expressed a strong interest in exploring how the high-level panel can reach out to the very poorest and vulnerable to ensure their views are reflected in a new post-MDG framework. In light of this, the Department for International Development's Post-MDG team is currently exploring with a number of UN, civil society and academic partners how the voices of the poorest can be brought into the process.
Baroness Northover: Prime Minister David Cameron is delighted to have been asked to co-chair the high-level panel (HLP) on the post-millennium development goals (MDGs) agenda. The Prime Minister, along
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To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Earl Howe on 11 June (WA 153), whether the Office of Fair Trading is examining the proposed mergers of NHS Foundation Trusts in Bournemouth and Poole as possibly contravening competition law; under what legislation similar mergers might be considered to be infringing competition law; and what the implications of such actions are for the Government's pipeline of NHS trusts moving to Foundation Trust approval by Monitor.[HL768]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): To avoid the uncertainty and risk of "double jeopardy" that foundation trusts previously faced under merger control arrangements, the Health and Social Care Act 2012 provides that a merger between two foundation trusts would be a relevant merger to be considered by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) for review under the Enterprise Act 2002. These provisions do not extend to foundation trust mergers with National Health Service trusts or mergers between two NHS trusts.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The department is aware of a series of quarterly reports from the King's Fund titled, How is the NHS Performing? Quarterly Monitoring Report.
The department closely monitors the financial performance of the National Health Service, as well as key aspects of delivery such as waiting times. Evidence suggests that the NHS performed strongly during 2011-12.
We do not normally assess external reports but note that two of King's Fund report key findings, that the national finance position is positive and the NHS continues to deliver on key national targets, are consistent with our own assessment.
Baroness Northover: The top 10 non-governmental organisations, consultancies and contractors recipients of United Kingdom aid for each year since 2008-09 are shown in the tables below. We are unable to provide data prior to 2008-09 as our central systems do not hold this level of analysis.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many recommendations from the Independent Commission on Aid Impact the Department for International Development (1) has implemented, and (2) is in the process of or is considering implementing.[HL779]
Baroness Northover: The Independent Commission for Aid Impact (ICAI) has made 53 recommendations in its 10 reports. In response, the Department for International Development (DfID) has agreed to implement 102 actions. Of those actions, 24 have been completed and 78 are ongoing. DfID's management responses to ICAI reports are published on DfID's website, www.DfID.gov.uk.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): Since rejoining the Commonwealth in 2008, Pakistan has made real progress in consolidating democracy. The forthcoming elections are a real opportunity to continue making progress. The Government work with a number of Commonwealth partners to help Pakistan consolidate democracy and break cycles of poor governance, which can lead to military intervention. For example, we are working to support elections that are credible and acceptable to the Pakistani people.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): Responsibility for the contract for sale of ".pn" domain names for Pitcairn rests with the Government of Pitcairn, who hold the requested information.
Lord Howell of Guildford: The contract for shipping services to Pitcairn was signed between the Government of Pitcairn and the owners of the MV "Claymore II", Stoney Creek Shipping Company Ltd, on 20 August 2009 after a competitive tender process. The service is subsidised by the British Government and provides for eight sailings a year between Pitcairn and Mangareva carrying passengers and cargo.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with the operators of the Gatwick Express about improving its reliability, cleanliness, punctuality and customer service in time for the Olympics in July and August.[HL847]
Earl Attlee: The Department for Transport has agreed an Olympic Services Delivery Plan with Southern (which runs the Gatwick Express) that provides for additional trains and customer service arrangements to be put in place during the Games.
In particular, arrangements for signage, security, passenger assistance, queuing arrangements and additional staffing to deal with increased demand have been discussed with the operator, while reliability, cleanliness, and customer service are monitored regularly by the department.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether and in what ways they are supporting vocational training and tertiary education for refugees living in camps throughout the world, pending their eventual resettlement.[HL805]
Baroness Northover: The UK supports the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), which has recently developed a new education strategy for refugee children and adolescents. This focuses on providing access to quality education including secondary education and vocational training. Between 2012 and 2016 UNHCR and its partners will double the number of students attending tertiary education.
The UK also supports the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), who provide a range of services, including vocational training and tertiary education, for Palestinian refugees in UNRWA camps.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): Robert Mugabe has not been appointed to any such position. This is clarified in the United Nations World Tourism Organisation's (UNWTO) own recent statement that they have no ambassadors programme and that the open letter Mugabe received was in relation to Zimbabwe and Zambia co-hosting the UNWTO General Assembly in August 2013. The letter does not imply any legal commitments or official titles to the country or recipient.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, in the light of the inclusion of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller pupils within the Ofsted evaluation schedule for the inspection of maintained schools and academies as a specific group of vulnerable children, how they will ensure that Her Majesty's Inspectors of Schools and registered inspectors are sufficiently well trained to be able to make informed judgements about the quality of policy, provision and practice in relation these pupils.[HL630]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): This question is a matter for Ofsted. HM Chief Inspector, Sir Michael Wilshaw, has written to the noble Lord, and a copy of his response has been placed in the House Libraries.
Parliamentary Question Number HL630: To ask Her Majesty's Government, in the light of the inclusion of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller pupils within the Ofsted evaluation schedule for the inspection of maintained schools and academies as a specific group of vulnerable children, how they will ensure that Her Majesty's Inspectors of Schools and registered inspectors are sufficiently well trained to be able to make informed judgments about the quality of policy, provision and practice in relation these pupils.
Her Majesty's Inspectors (HMI) and additional inspectors employed by Ofsted's contracted inspection service providers undergo rigorous initial training and are subject periodically to further training-particularly when a new inspection framework is introduced.
Inspectors were trained fully to implement the current framework, which was introduced in January 2012, and will be trained to apply the amended framework in advance of its implementation in September 2012. This training focuses on the importance of schools and teachers meeting the individual needs of each pupil.
One of the key principles underpinning the current inspection framework and the September 2012 amended framework is that inspection should focus on "narrowing the gap". Inspectors investigate how well the school is enabling pupils from underachieving groups nationally to bridge the gap between their achievement and the achievement of all pupils nationally. The inspection
20 Jun 2012 : Column WA306
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): The department has not made an assessment of the provision of sanitary bins in primary schools, but is aware of several studies on this issue that were carried out in 2001 and 2003. These were referred to in the Paediatric Continence Forum's response to the recent consultation on the proposed new school premises regulations.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the new school premises regulations will include provisions to ensure that toilet facilities used by girls over the age of eight will be deemed to be unsuitable unless they contain receptacles for disposing of sanitary dressings.[HL638]
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the new school premises regulations will include provisions to ensure that suitable washing facilities are defined as those that provide soap and drying facilities. [HL639]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): The new school premises regulations will not include specific requirements for soap and drying facilities, but they will require that the washing facilities provided should be suitable for pupils to use. They will also contain a regulation covering the general health, safety and welfare of pupils. It is
20 Jun 2012 : Column WA307
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the new school premises regulations will include provisions to ensure that suitable toilet facilities are defined as those that provide cubicles with lockable doors and toilet paper.[HL640]
Lord Hill of Oareford: The requirements for toilet facilities in the new school premises regulations will not go into that level of detail, as we do not think it necessary to regulate on issues such as the installation of locks and the provision of toilet paper.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the new school premises regulations will include a ratio to clarify what constitutes a suitable number of toilets and washbasins for schools to provide for a given number of pupils.[HL641]
Lord Hill of Oareford: The new school premises regulations will stress that suitable toilet and washing facilities must be provided for the sole use of pupils having regard, amongst other factors, to their ages and number. They will not give a specific ratio of fittings to numbers of pupils, but they will be supported by supplementary guidance which will provide a steer.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We have been working for a number of years on how best to ensure there is a national and international regulatory system in place for the private security sector that is practicable, affordable and effective, that raises private security company standards globally and minimises the risk of human rights abuses.
We expect our trade association partners, the Security in Complex Environments Group (SCEG) established by ADS (Aerospace, Defence and Security), to present Ministers shortly with options for a system of voluntary national regulation based on independent auditing and certification to internationally recognised professional standards by nationally accredited certifying bodies. We are also in discussions with the UK Accreditation Service (UKAS) about the process for the selection and appointment of independent auditors.
At an international level we are continuing to work with government, industry and civil society partners to establish a governance and oversight mechanism for the International Code of Conduct for Private Security Service Providers (ICOC). Following public consultation on a first draft charter for the ICOC, we are currently working towards a second draft which is likely to be produced in the autumn. The governance body of the
20 Jun 2012 : Column WA308
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The Istanbul II conference on Somalia was attended by high level representatives, including the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right honourable friend the Member for Richmond (Yorks) (Mr Hague) and the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, my honourable friend the Member for North West Norfolk (Mr Bellingham) under the theme "Preparing Somalia's Future: Goals for 2015". The conference was the first major international gathering on Somalia since the successful London conference in February, and was a key event in reaffirming the international commitment made at London that the transition must end in August. The conference also made progress on other areas, including through reaffirming a commitment to support the development of legitimate and effective security and justice architecture in Somalia and to promote stabilisation and reconciliation in the newly recovered regions. Finally, the conference recognised the continued fragility of the humanitarian situation in Somalia and the need to strengthen resilience and to support reconstruction and growth.
Baroness Northover: The European Commission Humanitarian Office (ECHO) has contributed €40 million from its 2012 budget to South Sudan, and an estimated €8 million has been rolled over from its 2011 budget. An additional €25 million is also under consideration. The specifics of programme allocation are still to be agreed. For longer-term development the European Union (EU) has prepared a single country strategy for South Sudan in response to the Government of South Sudan's national development plan (2011-13). The strategy will provide a basis for €200 million of new EU programming commitments and will focus on comprehensive, continued service delivery; peace building; and state institutional capacity building. South Sudan will also benefit from approximately €85 million of
20 Jun 2012 : Column WA309
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the decision by the Government of Sudan to close down the development and aid
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Baroness Northover: We are deeply concerned at the decision of the Sudanese Government to close down seven international non-government organisations (INGOs) in East Sudan. This decision threatens to have serious implications for humanitarian and development programmes, some of which are funded directly by the Department for International Development, carried out by these INGOs in the East. We will continue to raise our concerns with the Government in Sudan in conjunction with our international partners, including the EU and UN, and will continue to monitor the situation.
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