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Volume 455: debated on Monday 15 January 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps he is taking to support the United Nations World Food Programme in Somalia to ensure that food reaches (a) Wajid, (b) lower Shabelle and (c) the Middle and Lower Juba regions; and what representations is he making on the resumption of the use of airdrops and helicopters in Somalia. (113843)

The UK is a major supporter of the World Food Programme (WFP) globally and in Somalia. WFP plans to distribute 114,000mt (metric tonnes) of food aid in Somalia this year, and a significant proportion of this will be in the worst affected areas in southern and central Somalia, such as Middle and Lower Juba. The UK is the second largest contributor after the US to the World Food Programme's protracted Relief and Recovery Operation 10191, which runs to 31 March 2007, with US$11.4 million.

WFP is currently preparing a food aid convoy from Mogadishu to Wajid. A distribution in Middle Shabelle was planned just before the recent fighting, but it remains stalled because of lack of clarity over the security situation in that region. In Middle and Lower Juba there has been some limited food aid distribution in Bualle. There are 1000mt on trucks at Afmadow in Lower Juba, which it is planned will be distributed soon. WFP also has teams in Wajid on standby for a return to Kismayo.

The recent conflict caused restrictions on access to Somalia for relief workers and supplies. However, for most agencies, including WFP, it is proving possible to resume operations, although there have been some problems related to the re-emergence of local militias. The UK continues to take all opportunities to press the authorities on the ground to allow for the re-establishment of humanitarian relief operations in all areas, including the deliveries of WFP food aid and the use of helicopters and aircraft. Much of this operation is funded by the United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund to which the UK is the largest single contributor. WFP has adequate supplies for the next five to six months for Somalia.

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment he has made of the impact of the additional resources provided by the United States to Somalia on the situation in that country; and what steps his Department is taking to support development and peace-keeping efforts in Somalia. (114197)

I understand that the additional funds pledged by the US for Somalia at the International Contact Group meeting in Nairobi on 5 January— intended for humanitarian, capacity-building support and to help finance the proposed international peace support mission in Somalia—have yet to start disbursement.

DFID's programme has increased significantly, to a planned budget of £15.5 million in 2006-07 which is set to rise further to £21 million in 2007-08. Within these amounts we are providing significant amounts of humanitarian relief, assistance to building up the capacity of the Transitional Federal Institutions (TFIs), and support to education and other services to the poor.

In recognition of the changing political situation on the ground, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is in the process of preparing a short-term response plan, which will include proposals for support to the TFIs in the coming critical weeks. This is likely to cover proposals for:

supporting the relocation of the TFIs to Mogadishu;

rehabilitation of government buildings in Mogadishu;

immediate technical assistance requirements;

a process for the re-establishment of regional and local authorities; and

revenue raising.

DFID will examine the response plan, once available, and work towards a joint approach to it with the EC and other donors.

We are also examining urgently, with donor partners, how existing donor support to restoring effective policing in parts of Somalia can be extended to southern and central Somalia. This support is being channelled primarily through the UNDP's Rule of Law and Security programme (RoLS), which has been supporting police strengthening in Somaliland, Puntland and Baidoa. The programme has already established police training centres in Armo and Baidoa.