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Somalia: Politics and Government

Volume 474: debated on Monday 21 April 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what discussions (a) he, (b) members of his Department and (c) UK representatives have had with (i) members and (ii) representatives of (A) the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia, (B) the Government of Ethiopia, (C) the European Commission, (D) the Governments of member states of the European Union and (E) the United States Administration, regarding (1) the provision of basic (aa) humanitarian and (bb) medical supplies and (2) the humanitarian situation in (v) Mudug region, (w) Galgadud region, (x) Nugaal region, (y) Bakool region and (z) Mogadishu; and if he will make a statement. (197173)

Officials at the Department for International Development, together with colleagues at the British high commission in Nairobi and the British embassy in Addis Ababa, are in regular contact with the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia, including the President and Prime Minister, and with the Government of Ethiopia. The discussions are varied, and the humanitarian situation has been regularly discussed, specifically on allowing agencies and NGOs unhindered access to areas in need.

Officials based in Nairobi meet regularly through the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) to co-ordinate humanitarian assistance. The United States of America, European Commission and member states of the European Union are all represented at these meetings.

The UK Government maintain regular contact with all parties the hon. Member lists. The Minister for Africa at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), my right hon. Friend Lord Malloch Brown, raised humanitarian issues when he met President Yusuf in January 2008 and with Prime Minister Hussein and the Government of Ethiopia at the African Union summit in February 2008. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Hilary Benn)—former Secretary of State for DFID—met with President Yusuf last year and discussed the humanitarian situation.

Most of DFID’s humanitarian assistance (which includes medical supplies) is not earmarked to regions within Somalia. This enables our implementing partners (e.g. the International Committee of the Red Cross and the World Food Programme) to remain flexible and to react to changing circumstances on the ground. However, some of the NGOs that we support work in specific areas, e.g. a nutrition programme with the International Medical Corps (IMC) in Bakool and a nutrition, water and sanitation programme through Action Contre le Faim (ACF) in Galgadud.