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Volume 401: debated on Wednesday 19 March 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what plans she has to address the shortcomings in preparedness for international relief in Iraq identified by the International Development Committee. [103268]

My Department has been fully engaged in recent months in trying to get the world to face the humanitarian risks of military action in Iraq, and make preparations. This work continues. We have provided £10 million to UN agencies and international NGOs to support their contingency planning. We are seconding specialist staff to the key offices which will have a key role in the coordination of any humanitarian effort (including UN OCHA and the UN Joint Logistics Centre, both in Cyprus; and the US's Office for Reconstruction in Humanitarian Affairs in Kuwait). And we are continuing to work towards establishing the right international mandates to enable the UN to take the lead role in relief and reconstruction, and to administer the Oil For Food Programme, in the event of conflict. I will provide a full written response to the recent report of the International Development committee in the next few days.