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Volume 412: debated on Friday 11 April 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what recent assessment her Department has made of the humanitarian situation in Nasiriyah; and if she will make a statement. [108700]

The International Committee of the Red Cross is extremely concerned about the situation of the civilian population in towns to the south of Baghdad including Nasiriyah, which have been the scene of heavy fighting. The ICRC no longer has access to Nasiriyah, following the destruction of a major highway bridge linking the capital to the south on 3 April. UNICEF report that a first convoy of water tankers is heading to Nasiriyah.

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment she has made of the total bill for post-war reconstruction of Iraq. [108908]

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development who will be in control of deciding what money is spent on the post-war reconstruction of Iraq; and what the Government's priorities are for the post-war reconstruction of Iraq. [108909]

DFID assistance on post-war reconstruction will support the international effort coordinated by the UN and the International Financial Institutions. Iraq's reconstruction needs will be substantial. It is too soon to determine specific allocations or areas of UK focus.

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what the Government's position is on transparency over oil revenues in a postwar Iraq. [108910]

UN oversight of Iraq's oil revenues will continue until the current sanctions regime is lifted. Beyond that, we will work for oil revenues to be reflected transparently in Iraq's public finances.

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development whether Oil for Food funds (a) can and (b) will be used to refund Iraqi debt. [108911]

UN resolutions currently prevent Oil for Food Programme funds being used to repay Iraqi debt, but 25 per cent. of revenues will go to the UN Compensation Commission which pays reparations claims for the 1990–91 Gulf War.Future Iraqi debt and reparations payments will need to be addressed in due course by the future Government of Iraq and the International Financial Institutions if Iraqi reconstruction is to be sustainable.

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development whose control the Oil-for-Food Programme is under in (a) Central and Southern Iraq and (b) Northern Iraq; and what recent assessment she has made of food distribution to the people of Iraq through the Oil for Food Programme. [108912]

The UN has an administrative and oversight role over the Oil for Food Programme (OFF) in central, southern and northern Iraq. The UN bodies responsible for OFF are the Office of the Iraq Programme OIP (administration), the Office of the Humanitarian Co-ordinator UNOHCI (field coordination), and nine implementation agencies (FAO, UNESCO, WHO, ITU, UNICEF, UNDP, WFP, UNOPS, UN-Habitat).The World Food Programme (WFP) estimates that the current food supply, distributed through the public distribution system under the Oil for Food Programme, will last through April. It has pre-positioned sufficient supplies to feed two million people for one month, which is intended to cover the initial phase of the conflict, and to support refugees and the malnourished and vulnerable inside Iraq. WFP concluded contracts last week to buy a further 400,000 metric tons of food aid for Iraq, which they intend to use to replenish the OFF distribution systems. These supplies should start reaching the region by late April. But they will only reach people if the distribution system can be kept in place. This means helping Iraqis keep 55,000 separate outlets across the country operating, 45,000 of which are in the centre and south of Iraq. In some parts of the country, they are still doing so; in others it will be a greater challenge. We are continuing to liaise closely with relevant UN agencies on these issues.