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Angola (Aid)

Volume 13: debated on Monday 16 November 1981

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40.

asked the Lord Privy Seal what are the main components of United Kingdom aid to Angola.

We are providing a small team of English language teachers to assist the National Language Institute in Luanda.

In response to an appeal from the Angolan Government we have met the cost of chartering an aircraft to carry relief supplies made available by Her Majesty's Government and the disaster emergency committee for people displaced or suffering as a result of drought in the southern provinces of Angola.

Small items of equipment are provided to Angola under the heads of mission gifts scheme.

Is the Minister aware that the trouble in the southern region of Angola has been caused, not by drought, but by massive and sustained attacks by the South African armed forces using weapons and equipment supplied by Britain? Therefore, is it not at least morally necessary to provide substantial aid to Angola to make good the damage done by those attacks and to ensure that the Angolans have a reasonable chance of developing their economy in peace?

The situation is being monitored closely by the United Nations disaster relief organisation and by our embassy. A report on the United Nations disaster relief organisation's fact-finding mission is expected shortly. In the light of that report and information provided by our embassy, we shall consider the need for further emergency assistance. However, the Angolans receive plenty of help from Russia and Cuba. In addition, their system of government does not seem to help the economy. It is a Marxist system.

In the light of that reply, may I ask the Minister whether he saw the film on BBC 2—which was shown after 10 pm last night—about conditions in the camps in Angola? With the exception of Somalia, I have not seen worse conditions. Will the Minister increase the amount of aid being given? The hon. Gentleman spoke about the drought in the bush. But the South African air force is bombarding people out of their homes and, as a result, they are flocking into camps where there are inadequate facilities and impossibly small amounts of food available.

I saw that film last night. Aid activity is not guided by television films, although we take note of what we see. As I said to the hon. Member for Sheffield, Heeley (Mr. Hooley), the situation is being monitored closely by the United Nations disaster relief organisation, and we shall take any necessary action according to the result of that monitoring.