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China: Earthquakes

Volume 479: debated on Monday 29 September 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make representations to the Chinese government on ensuring the Tibetan areas affected by the recent earthquake whose epicentre was on the border of the Tibetan Ngaba Autonomous Prefecture are accessible to overseas aid agencies and that all Tibetan victims are receiving the necessary treatment and support. (220372)

I have been asked to reply.

The worst affected areas have a population which is 54 per cent. Tibetan. The UK assistance and the Chinese response generally has covered all the victims of the earthquake, including the Tibetan and Qiang communities.

We have been in close contact with the Chinese authorities since the earthquake. They have been dealing very competently with all the victims. The UK provided funds for the immediate relief effort. On 16 May, three days after the earthquake struck, we provided £1 million to the Chinese Association for NGO co-operation. The money was used to buy food, water, blankets and 2,400 tents. Between 22 and 30 May, four flights arrived in Chengdu from Dubai carrying a further 5,332 tents. The total value of the tents, including transport costs, was £1.2 million. On 18 June, we agreed a contribution of £350,000 to the International Labour Organisation for training to help survivors of the earthquake re-launch or start their own businesses for the first time. The programme aims to re-establish 1000 businesses and start 700 new ones in the next year. The Department for International Development (DFID) total contribution to date is therefore £2.55 million.

We have also established a facility to provide technical assistance for the reconstruction effort. It will have an initial ceiling of £1 million. The main focus will be on areas where we already have a comparative advantage, such as health, education, water and sanitation, participatory, socially inclusive planning and community based poverty reduction in remote villages.