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Volume 403: debated on Monday 14 April 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if she will make a statement on the role of her Department's officials seconded to the Ministry of Defence; and whether they will remain in the Ministry of Defence (a) for the duration of the war in Iraq and (b) to influence the postwar reconstruction of Iraq. [108882]

My Department has seconded two humanitarian advisers to the Ministry of Defence to assist UK forces in the provision of humanitarian assistance as part of their obligations under the Geneva Convention and Hague Regulations governing armed conflict. DFID advisors will provide advice for as long as it is necessary for the military to engage in the humanitarian response.The UK is committed to humanitarian assistance being provided by civilian agencies wherever possible. The military fully appreciates the need to hand over to humanitarian agencies as soon as the situation allows.