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Volume 464: debated on Monday 15 October 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what recent assessment he has made of the humanitarian situation in the Ogaden region of Ethiopia; and if he will make a statement. (157706)

A United Nations team made an assessment of the situation at the beginning of September. It concluded that although there was no major humanitarian crisis in the Somali (Ogaden) region, humanitarian conditions within conflict areas were deteriorating; there was an urgent need for food and medical supplies and for help with water and sanitation.

The Government of Ethiopia have accepted the report’s conclusions and is working with the UN on an action plan to implement the recommendations. Restrictions on commercial traffic, which were causing dramatic increases in food prices, have now been lifted and four major cross-border commercial routes have been opened. Improvements are expected as a result of the resumption of trade and the start of the rainy season. DFID and the other donors are working with the Ethiopian Government and the United Nations to ensure that humanitarian assistance will be delivered to those who need it.

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what discussions he has had with the Ethiopian Government about the security situation in the Ogaden region; and if he will make a statement. (157707)

The British ambassador raised the issue of the security situation in the Somali (Ogaden) region of Ethiopia with Prime Minister Meles Zenawi in September. This followed a United Nations assessment mission to the region from 30 August to 5 September, the conclusions of which have been accepted by the Ethiopian Government, and security is now improving. The Ethiopian response to the UN assessment has been reassuring, and we hope that the situation will continue to improve in the coming months.