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Zimbabwe

Volume 464: debated on Wednesday 17 October 2007

The situation in Zimbabwe continues to deteriorate as a result of the appalling corruption and wilful mismanagement of the Mugabe regime. We are, however, making a major contribution to humanitarian relief and working to protect the people of Zimbabwe from the worst effects of hunger and HIV.

I thank the Secretary of State for those comments. Given that more than 3,000 people die of HIV/AIDS in Zimbabwe every week, does he agree with me that the measure of success is not how much money is spent, but the number of people protected from infection and the number treated? Given those circumstances, what is he doing to ensure that British aid money is used to maximum benefit?

On the specific issue that the hon. Gentleman raises, we are providing HIV treatment to 50,000 people in Zimbabwe this year and helping to keep AIDS-affected children in school. Clearly, this is a hugely challenging environment in which to be working at the moment—significant migration out of the country is taking place, its Government are in a relative state of collapse and its economy is diminishing almost by the day—but I assure hon. Members that we are determined to continue to provide humanitarian support, today and tomorrow, to the people of Zimbabwe.

Has the Secretary of State seen the recently published report by Save the Children, which highlighted the plight of unaccompanied children, some as young as seven years old, crossing the border from Zimbabwe to South Africa? What is his Department doing about that? Has he had any discussion with the South African Government about that important issue?

I assure the hon. Gentleman that through various different channels we are in regular contact with the South African Government on those issues. It is clear that Zimbabwe no longer represents simply a challenge or the humanitarian crisis of one country; given the outflow of migrants, be they children or older people, it is a crisis for the entire region. I pay tribute to the work of the Independent Television News broadcasting organisation, for bringing the plight of those children to the wider attention of the British public in recent years, and to Save the Children. I assure the hon. Gentleman that we continue to work closely with regional partners, including South Africa, to ensure that our humanitarian effort is targeted towards those most in need. Indeed, we have in recent weeks announced £8 million more for the World Food Programme to try to address the hunger needs of such populations.