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Burma: Human Rights

Volume 498: debated on Tuesday 27 October 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what recent assessment he has made of the humanitarian situation in Burma; and if he will make a statement. (295921)

Humanitarian conditions are poor throughout Burma. A third of the population (16.5 million people) lives on less than 16p a day. Malaria, TB and HIV/AIDS are serious health risks. Half of Burma’s 20 million children do not complete primary school. About 140,000 Burmese refugees are sheltering in camps in Thailand, and many displaced people inside Burma live in extreme poverty. Conditions remain precarious in parts of the Irrawaddy Delta struck by Cyclone Nargis in May 2008.

In response to these humanitarian needs, the Department for International Development (DFID) is increasing its programme in Burma from £12.5 million in 2008-09 to £25 million this financial year and £28 million in 2010-11. In 2008-09, DFID also provided £45 million in emergency aid following Cyclone Nargis.

UK aid for Burma is channelled through the United Nations and non-governmental organisations, not through the Burmese central government. It is monitored closely by DFID staff based in Burma. We are encouraging other donors to follow our example and expand their aid programmes in Burma.