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Volume 228: debated on Thursday 8 July 1993

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To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what is the involvement of United Nations, the United Nations Development Programme, UNICEF, the World Health Organisation, the UNDCP and the Food and Agriculture Organisation in Burma.

The United Nations Under-Secretary for Humanitarian Affairs is involved in talks with the Burmese authorities about the return of the Rohingya refugees from Bangladesh'. The involvement of UN agencies in Burma is as follows.

UNDP: Since the 1992 Governing Council, all UNDP assistance in Burma has been targeted specifically at grassroots level. Projects are approved on a case-by-case basis by the UNDP Administrator, and funding is only being released on a strictly limited basis.
UNICEF: The programme in Burma concentrates on mother and child health care, basic education and access to safe drinking water.
WHO: The programme has been reduced since July 1992 in response to UNDP's directive to limit activities. It now concentrates on nursing training and AIDS.
UNDCP: A number of projects both in Burma and in the border areas of neighbouring states are funded to encourage the reduction of drug trafficking, and of demand, supply and abuse of drugs. Specific activities include the replacement of opium based economic activity by income substitution programmes, and demand reduction through community based education and training.
FAO: Activities in Burma are largely rural based agricultural projects, including research and training. Many are UNDP funded and fall within the restrictions placed on the UNDP programme.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what accountability there is for United Nations activity and that of related organisations for their work in Burma; and if he will place reports on this subject by such organisations in the Library.

The United Nations and related organisations operating in Burma are accountable, through their headquarters management, to their governing bodies. Members of these bodies, including the United Kingdom, monitor closely the activities of these organisations.There are no relevant reports which could be placed in the Library of the House.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what checks there have been to ensure that international aid to Burma has not been used for military purposes.

We have no evidence that international aid is being diverted for military purposes. The mandates of the United Nations, its funds and programmes and the specialised agencies in the economic and social fields preclude any assistance for military purposes. In the case of Burma, the work of the United Nations system is being scrutinised with special care to ensure that none of its assistance is diverted to military uses. The international financial institutions do not grant loans for military purposes, and carry out the normal financial and audit checks on the use of their funds.