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Volume 403: debated on Tuesday 8 April 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what resources are set aside in her Department's contingency reserve for 2003–04; what assessment she has made of the impact of allocating a significant proportion of the contingency reserve for the next financial year to humanitarian support for Iraq on her Department"s ability to respond effectively to other global emergencies; whether she expects her Department"s contingency reserve for 2003–04 to be replenished by the Treasury; what bids for additional funding for humanitarian activities in Iraq she has made to the Treasury; and if she will make a statement on how her Department spent its contingency reserve in 2002–03. [107581]

DFID"s contingency reserve for 2003–04 has been set at £100 million, of which £75 million has been earmarked for Iraq. We have allocated £15 million to Iraq from other DFID budgets and have been allocated an additional £120 million from the Treasury reserve for expenditure on Iraq.We have made clear that we will not redirect funds to Iraq from other emergencies like Southern Africa, Ethiopia and Eritrea, Afghanistan or the West Bank and Gaza; nor will we divert funds from programmes supporting development for poor people elsewhere.

We started 2002–03 with a contingency reserve of £50 million. During the year allocations were made from the reserve to augment our response to the food shortages in Southern Africa, to provide humanitarian aid and initial rehabilitation assistance in Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan and Ethiopia, and for emergency assistance in the Palestinian territories.

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how many internally displaced people there are in northern Iraq. [107942]

Recent reports from the UN Office for Project services (UNOPS) indicate that an estimated 300,000 to 400,000 people have been newly displaced in northern Iraq since the onset of the current crisis though some have returned to their homes. Approximately 90 per cent. of these are staying with families or friends. The needs of the remainder are being met by local authorities and humanitarian agencies. UNOPS is currently undertaking a comprehensive survey of internally displaced people in the north. Results will be noted in DFID's Iraq Updates as soon as they are available.

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if she will make a statement on (a) food shortages and (b) water shortages in northern Iraq. [107943]

The World Food Programme (WFP) reports that food stocks have been diminishing in northern Iraq. Recent reports indicate that WFP have delivered 850 tonnes of wheat flour to northern Iraq from Turkey. This is the first part of an initial 6,000 metric tonne consignment expected to be delivered in the coming days. 12 further UNICEF trucks are also en route to the north.We have received no reports of significant water shortages in the north. Water for internally displaced people camps is being provided by UN agencies, NGOs and local authorities.

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development whether deliveries of emergency food and medical supplies to support internally displaced people in northern Iraq have been subjected to delays; and if she will make a statement. [107944]

The Turkish authorities acknowledge that delays have occurred with cross-border movements of supplies into northern Iraq. However, we understand that these have now eased. The World Food Programme, UNICEF, and NGOs have been able to cross the border into northern Iraq with supplies in recent days. We are monitoring the situation closely.

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what advice her Department has given the Ministry of Defence regarding food distribution in southern Iraq. [107945]

DFID has seconded two humanitarian advisers to UK forces. They are advising the military on a range of issues, including appropriate food supplies and distribution mechanisms.

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what plans are in place to restore electricity supplies in Basra in order that sewage treatment and water pumping can resume. [107946]

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), in collaboration with local authorities, has succeeded in restoring much of the water supply in and around Basra, though significant problems remain. The main water pumping station is currently running on six back up generators as a temporary measure. Work is under way to restore the mains electricity supply. The UK has offered assistance.