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Emergency Humanitarian Response Capability

Volume 521: debated on Wednesday 12 January 2011

10. What recent progress he has made on his review of emergency humanitarian response capability. (32722)

The humanitarian emergency response review is an independent review of the UK Government’s emergency humanitarian assistance, led by Lord Ashdown. The review team will complete its consultations this month and issue its final report by the end of April.

The review has a specific focus on rapid onset humanitarian emergencies, which can either be natural disasters or sudden outbreaks of conflict. The urgent international response to disasters is often confused and unco-ordinated. Today is the first anniversary of the devastating earthquake in Haiti, and what happened there will play an essential part in our review. [Interruption.]

Will my right hon. Friend consider asking the emergency response review team to look at the situation in Tindouf in Algeria, where thousands of Sahrawis have been virtually imprisoned in camps for almost 25 years? Can he raise the profile of that issue?

As I explained, the humanitarian review is primarily focused on rapid onset emergencies, and it has therefore not looked at a protracted crisis such as that of the Sahrawi refugee camps in Algeria. We support them, however, through our 13% share in the budget of the European Community’s humanitarian aid office, which in this financial year has committed €10 million to support Sahrawi refugees.

What percentage of emergency aid does the Minister believe was included in the £52 million that the Vice-President of Afghanistan, Ahmad Zia Massoud, took from his country to his bolthole in Dubai? Is there any point in pouring money into those funds before we end the corruption that is endemic in the Afghanistan Government?

We do everything to make sure that such moneys are paid only through a trust fund and paid only after proven action with proper receipts. We do everything possible to overcome the challenges posed by corruption in any such country.

The Minister mentioned Haiti. It is clear that some NGOs were not working very effectively together and were actually operating in their own interest. Will the review also consider the better co-ordination of NGOs, both from this country and those under UN supervision?

Yes, is the answer. However, I repeat that the review’s remit is concentrated and focused on rapid onset humanitarian response—in other words, it is a review of emergency humanitarian response, not of the entire area of all humanitarian action.