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World Food Programme

Volume 404: debated on Tuesday 15 April 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if she will make a statement in response to the comments made by the Executive Director of the World Food Programme to the United Nations Security Council on 7 April. [109227]

I agree with the assessment of James Morris that conditions in many parts of Africa are a cause of great concern and must not be overlooked at a time when the world's attention is on Iraq. I welcome the efforts of the World Food Programme to address urgent humanitarian need in the continent and elsewhere. In 2002, the UK gave over £60 million to WFP, principally for humanitarian operations. We will continue to be strong supporters of the Programme.However, the Government puts different emphasis on some of causes of the crises and on the steps needed to address them. An adequate donor response is of course important. I made special efforts last year to encourage other donors to respond to the urgent needs in Southern Africa. But we must go beyond investments in food aid and agriculture. In Southern Africa, the main problem is Zimbabwe and the central issue is one of governance. As Mr. Morris recognises, in other parts of Africa, continuing conflict drastically hampers opportunities to reduce hunger and poverty. We need to take account of the wide range of factors affecting food security in Africa andencourage steps, including by African governments themselves, to address the social, political and economic constraints.

I talk regularly to James Morris about problems in Africa, most recently in London on 31 March. We will continue to keep in close touch. We will also give full consideration to the proposals set out in Mr. Morris's statement for actions by the G8 countries.