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Volume 450: debated on Friday 20 October 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps have been taken to prevent ammunition obtained from coalition forces’ supplies reaching the black market in Iraq. (80431)

UK forces’ ammunition in Iraq is accessible only to UK personnel The Iraqi security forces (ISF) do not draw their ammunition from UK supplies. Thorough measures are in place to prevent any interference with UK ammunition supplies at all stages in the supply and distribution chain. These include secure containment with restricted access, regular patrols, and thorough auditing. There is no evidence of diversion or unauthorised removal of UK ammunition.

The UK has gifted infrastructure, vehicles and other equipment, including ammunition, direct to the ISF, in order that they will be able to undertake security tasks with less recourse to Multi-National Forces (MNF). This has taken place under the auspices of project Osiris, which the House has been informed of prior to donations. Thorough measures are in place to avoid the possibility of diversion of this equipment, including checking and logging of stocks on arrival, UK military supervision of hand-over, and checking and recording the identification of recipients. After hand-over, the ISF take full responsibility for the security of equipment, although some routine inventory checks are subsequently still carried out by Multi-National Forces.

Other members of coalition forces will have their own monitoring and security procedures in place.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if she will take steps to seek the establishment of an independent international body to monitor the levels of conflict-related mortality in Iraq; and if she will make a statement. (95279)

The UN operates in Iraq and monitors the levels of violence and conflict-related deaths. The numbers of deaths cited in the UN Human Rights Reports are taken from Iraqi Ministry of Health figures. Maintaining records of civilian deaths in Iraq is ultimately a matter for the Government of Iraq and we believe they are best placed to monitor the situation. In many conflict situations it would be impossible to make a reliably accurate assessment either of the civilian casualties resulting from any particular attacks or of the overall civilian casualties of a conflict. This is true in the security conditions that exist in Iraq. It is unlikely that an independent body could gain better access than the Iraqi Ministries, including the Ministry of Health, which collates information from some 180 hospitals across the country.