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Volume 405: debated on Thursday 15 May 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what estimate her Department has made of the total cost of the reconstruction of Afghanistan. [112200]

A preliminary Reconstruction Needs Assessment was carried out in late 2001/early 2002 by UNDP, the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank. This estimated that US$18 billion was required over 10 years to reconstruct Afghanistan. This assessment was carried out quickly in order to provide a basis for pledges at the Tokyo Ministerial meeting in January 2002.Since then more detailed needs assessments have been carried out in several sectors, including agriculture, education, transport and environment. The Afghan Transitional Administration now estimates that they require US$15 billion over the next five years to reconstruct the country.

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment her Department has made of the impact of the security situation upon the distribution of food in Afghanistan. [112738]

Food aid continues to reach those who need it in most areas of Afghanistan. Some UNHCR field operations have been suspended due to the security situation on the border with Pakistan, and the situation remains fluid in the north of the country, with WFP unable to access a district in Balkh province due to inter-factional fighting. The security situation and restrictions on operations are reviewed regularly, however.Approximately 5.8 million people will receive food aid in 2003 through a partnership between the Afghan Transitional Administration and WFP. WFP is also working in partnership with UNHCR to provide food aid to returning refugees and those who remain in refugee camps.The humanitarian situation in Afghanistan has improved over the last year, with the drought easing due to increased rainfall and an 80 per cent. increase in crop yield over the previous year.