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Food Aid

Volume 407: debated on Wednesday 18 June 2003

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To ask the Minister of State, Department for International Development what steps he is taking to ensure that food aid from UK charities and non-governmental organisations is reaching people in the affected areas of Zimbabwe. [119544]

It is a fundamental principle of the international humanitarian system that food aid be distributed to all those in most need of assistance—regardless of political affiliation. Food aid provided by the UN, bilateral donors and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) is distributed in accordance with clear criteria of vulnerability. The selection of beneficiaries is developed and checked through registration exercises within the community, and food is distributed by NGOs outside of government systems.Both the UN and DFID have detailed monitoring mechanisms in place to check that food is being distributed according to the agreed humanitarian principles and selection criteria, and that problems are investigated as they arise and adjustments made on an on-going basis. The UN and NGOs are committed to investigating all complaints and problems that arise and to resolve these wherever possible.UK NGOs and charities are playing a vital role in responding to the crisis in Zimbabwe, and DFID's country team supports and assists those present in Zimbabwe. DFID would be grateful for details of any specific concerns or complaints so that these may be investigated.