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Ethiopia (British Airlift)

Volume 87: debated on Tuesday 26 November 1985

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asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the future of the British airlift in Ethiopia.

Since my announcement on 22 July that there was a need for the airlift to be extended until December, the outlook in Ethiopia has continued to improve. The UN co-ordinator estimates that by the end of the year sufficient trucking capacity should exist to distribute likely relief needs in 1986. Moreover, the main international airport at Addis Ababa—at which our detachment is based—will be closed to heavy aircraft for two months early in 1986 for runway maintenance. Prospects for the main harvest are also encouraging and most of the roads are now usable again after the rains. This picture was confirmed by the Ethiopian relief and rehabilitation commissioner, Major Dawit, when he called on me on 5 November. I have decided therefore that the British airlift, which has made such a magnificent contribution to relief operations in Ethiopia since November 1984, should be discontinued in the latter part of December.In other ways, however, we shall provide continuing substantial relief and rehabilitation assistance to Ethiopia during 1986, as well as food aid. As part of this, I have now decided to offer £2 million for agricultural rehabilitation, including seeds and tools, and £1 million for water provision schemes in Wollo. We shall also of course be contributing our share of European Community food aid and rehabilitation schemes in Ethiopia.