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Volume 82: debated on Monday 1 July 1985

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asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will report progress on the Ethiopian Government's contribution in the provision of vehicles to transport aid for the relief of the famine.

The United Nations co-ordinator in Addis Ababa, Mr. Jansson, continues to press the Ethiopian Government to provide more trucks for relief efforts. We understand that at a meeting on 17 June Colonel Mengistu told Mr. Jansson that a further 400 trucks would be made available.

I thank my right hon. Friend for that information. Does he agree that some time ago the Ethiopian Government gave an unequivocal commitment to provide 4,000 vehicles, but so far they have provided not even one tenth of the number? Does he further agree that Her Majesty's Government owe it to the millions of people in various countries who have donated to the relief of famine in Ethiopia to make the strongest representations to the Ethiopian authorities on this issue? Will we make it clear that unless the Ethiopian authorities keep to their commitment, the relief that has been given by many countries will rot on the wharves because the food will not get to the people who are desperately in need of it? The result will be that more people will die, and that will be the fault of the Ethiopian Government.

It is difficult to say exactly what number of trucks has been provided by the Ethiopians at any given time. The numbers appear to fluctuate. I agree with my hon. Friend that the Ethiopians need to fulfil their promise to provide many more, and we are prepared to support any representations to that effect.