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Volume 86: debated on Monday 11 November 1985

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asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on Her Majesty's Government's policy concerning aid and relief in Ethiopia in the light of the enforced mass resettlement of distressed people.

We are continuing to provide relief aid to Ethiopia for humanitarian reasons, but we do not support or assist the Ethiopian Government's policy on resettlement.

Is it not intolerable that, when so many have been so generous and the Government have been so helpful, the Ethiopian dictatorship should callously worsen the suffering of the people of Ethiopia? What action is proposed?

The question of aid to Ethiopia is extremely difficult. We have concentrated on meeting the humanitarian needs in Ethiopia, which are great. However, there is no doubt that the political context in Ethiopia makes the provision of long-term development aid extremely difficult.

Does the Minister realise that it is difficult for many people inside and outside the House to reconcile his remarks about development or food aid with the Government's recent decision to press the European Community—unfortunately with success—to cut the food aid budget? Much though we may wish to help development projects, we also want to see food aid sensibly used.

The key matter is the sensible use of food aid. We believe that there is enough food aid available in the Community's aid programme to provide conventional food aid and the emergency reserves that are needed for famine relief.