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Volume 455: debated on Thursday 25 January 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if he will make a statement on the provision of humanitarian aid to Afghanistan. (111110)

Since 2000 DFID has provided over £390 million in development assistance to Afghanistan. DFID has committed to spend a further £330 million over the next three years, with £102 million in 2006-07 and at least £107 million in 2007-08.

In 2000-01 and 2001-02 the funding was entirely humanitarian?a total of £57 million was spent through NGOs and multilateral such as the World Food Programme (WFP), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and United National High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR). In line with Afghanistan’s needs, DFID humanitarian funding has gradually decreased from £44 million in 2001-02 to £1.3 million this year (2006-07). Funding this year has been channelled towards the drought in the North and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Helmand.

The drought in Afghanistan is predominantly in the northern areas and is affecting 2.5 million people. The Government of Afghanistan and the UN jointly launched an appeal in October. DFID has contributed £1 million towards the UN appeal for drought mitigation. This will be used for water and sanitation projects in the most affected areas. The money will be used to fund NGOs working with the Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development (MRRD), the main government partner of the UN drought appeal.

DFID has also provided assistance to IDPs in Helmand. The UN has estimated that around 2,800 families have been displaced in Helmand. UK officials are monitoring the situation. We are currently assured that basic needs are being met. The UK has provided funding (£30,000) for food aid and essential items like soap and blankets for these displaced families.

More broadly, UNHCR, WFP and local implementing partners continue to work on humanitarian programmes in Afghanistan providing basic service such as shelter units, water and sanitation, healthcare and education facilities.