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Volume 180: debated on Monday 12 November 1990

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To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what humanitarian aid has been provided for Cambodians over the past two years; and what plans he has for further provision of such aid.

In the past 18 months, the ODA has committed £565,000 supporting 12 NGO projects. A number of other NGO project proposals is being considered. We have also allocated £1·25 million for programmes carried out by the United Nations childrens fund, the World Food Programme and the World Health Organisation. In addition, up to £100,000 will be spent through British NGOs to help civil war displaced persons. Cambodia's humanitarian assistance needs are monitored regularly.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that that is a very encouraging answer? While a resolution to the political situation in Cambodia is unfortunately taking time, the Government appear to be getting on with humanitarian aid through the NGOs which is generous, highly effective and shows no sign of diminishing.

I am grateful to my hon. and learned Friend. However, we are not just involved in humanitarian aid. The friends of the co-chairmen's working group met at the weekend in Jakarta. We are working together with the permanent five under the chairmanship of the Indonesian Foreign Minister Ali Alatas and we are doing all that we can to bring about a meeting at which the co-chairmen can bring the Supreme National Council together. Until there is a peaceful solution in Cambodia, no matter how much money we put in or how much help we provide through the NGOs, we will not be able to bring peace to the people.

Why does the Minister come here month after month offering limp and petty excuses for denying proper developmental aid to one of the poorest countries in the world? Does the Minister realise that the United Nations General Assembly resolution on Cambodia, which was passed in October without dissent, calls on donor countries to provide resources for the economic and social reconstruction of Cambodia? When do the Government propose to implement that resolution which they signed and voted for?

As usual, the hon. Lady goes wide of the aid brief. However, we have always believed that the United Nations had to have a central role in restoring peace and stability to Cambodia. We have also given the humanitarian aid that we can put in. We now want to ensure that the co-ordinating committee in Paris thrashes out the details for a settlement. As soon as that is done, we shall be able to follow through on giving more help and aid to Cambodia which it needs for reconstruction.