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Volume 409: debated on Friday 18 July 2003

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To ask the Minister of State, Department for International Development if he will make a statement on (a) the content of basic humanitarian supplies destined for Iraq and (b) the progress of those supplies towards intended destinations in Iraq. [126492]

Basic items such as food and medicines are being supplied to Iraq through organisations such as the World Food Programme and the World Health Organisation. These agencies report that such items are being imported in sufficient quantities to meet Iraq's needs.Iraq's Public Distribution System for food aid was restarted on 1 June 2003. The World Food Programme reports that by the end of the month, rations had been provided to about 26 million people. Distribution of food and medical supplies within Iraq have been hampered in some areas by the security situation there. For example, while medical supplies are being delivered to main provincial warehouses, rapid and effective distribution to clinics has not always been possible.

To ask the Minister of State, Department for International Development what steps are being taken to improve the security of food storage facilities in Iraq. [126852]

Coalition forces are providing security for many key food storage facilities. Resources are also being provided to Iraqi Ministry of Trade (MOT) governorate offices to carry out emergency improvements to storage sites to make them more secure. This work will include the installation or repair of gates and perimeter fencing, and new or improved lighting. Coalition forces have also been training MOT guards, who will be armed. In Baghdad, plans are being made to provide the guards with mobile phones so that they have a direct link to local police stations.

To ask the Minister of State, Department for International Development how many people have been immunised as part of the national immunisation campaign in Iraq. [126853]

The aim of the national immunisation campaign is to vaccinate 4.2 million children under the age of five against preventable diseases. Before the conflict, 98 per cent, of children under the age of five in Iraq were vaccinated for polio, and 92 per cent, for measles. Routine immunisation of children was suspended from the start of military action on 20 March 2003. An estimated 210,000 children were born in Iraq between then and mid-June. To rectify the break in the immunisation programme a number of national immunisation days have been announced by the Ministry of Health. The first took place on 22 June. Further national immunisation days are due to be held over the coming weeks. UNICEF reports that sufficient vaccines are now available in Iraq for six to eight months of routine immunisation activities.The World Health Organisation is also contributing to the reactivation of Iraq's Expanded Programme of Immunisation by re-establishing the country's vital disease surveillance system.