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Burma: Storms

Volume 476: debated on Monday 2 June 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps he is taking to ensure that independent monitors are present in Burma to ensure that relief aid to Burma reaches its intended recipients; and if he will make a statement. (206766)

The Department for International Development’s (DFID) emergency aid to Burma is going only to the UN, Red Cross and NGOs with experience working in humanitarian crises and in Burma. We have confidence in the monitoring mechanisms these partners have in place to ensure that DFID’s emergency aid reaches its intended recipients. DFID maintains regular contact with the partners that it funds so that it is alerted as soon as possible to any problems they encounter with the delivery of aid. DFID is not channelling any assistance through the Government of Burma.

We have not had any confirmed reports of the diversion of aid. Our efforts are currently focussed on widening access for international aid workers which is a higher priority than getting access for monitors.

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps the Government have taken to provide aid relief to the victims of Cyclone Nargis. (207421)

In the wake of Cyclone Nargis, the UK has already contributed £17 million for the humanitarian relief effort. This is being channelled through the UN, the Red Cross, and NGOs in Burma. We have logistics experts in Bangkok and Rangoon to help manage the delivery of relief supplies, as well as a six-person DFID emergency team deployed to Burma.

As part of this contribution, DFID has provided £5 million in logistical support and relief supplies and flat bottomed boats and engines to enable delivery of humanitarian assistance in the inland waters of the Irrawaddy Delta.

The Government have also had intensive diplomatic exchanges with key international partners, including Burma's regional friends such as China, India and Thailand, about what can be done to increase the delivery of international aid to victims of the cyclone and to persuade the Burmese authorities to allow greater access for humanitarian relief workers. We are strongly supportive of the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) co-ordinating mechanism in Burma to distribute aid from the international community, agreed at the ASEAN Foreign Ministers meeting on 19 May. We are encouraging the development of practical arrangements for ASEAN countries to deliver relief supplies directly to the affected areas.