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Volume 560: debated on Wednesday 13 March 2013

4. What discussions she has had with her counterparts in the UN on reinstating bilateral aid to Mali. (147430)

The UK Government do not have a bilateral aid programme in Mali, but we are the second-largest humanitarian donor, providing £13 million in 2013. We have had discussions with our EU and multilateral partners, including the UN, on the importance of co-ordinated resumption of aid.

Bilateral aid from the EU and the World Bank provides a key step in protecting people in Mali from drought and violence. What steps have the Government taken to ensure that that aid is reinstated as soon as possible?

The hon. Gentleman makes an important point. We are encouraging the resumption of aid by bilateral partners. In May, there will be a donor conference on Mali, which is an important step, not just as a pledging conference. There is a political crisis in Mali, and the solution is political, which is why we welcome the recent announcement by the Malian authorities to initiate a commission on dialogue and reconciliation.

I thank my hon. Friend for her encouraging answer, but may I ask her to go further and consider whether the UK Government could work with France and the EU to address the fragility across the region and deliver co-ordinated and sustained development assistance to the Sahel and the whole region?

I thank my right hon. Friend. This very issue was discussed at the recent Development Ministers meeting. Stability in the Sahel—the wider region—is of absolute importance. The UK has committed £78 million in humanitarian support to the Sahel through various United Nations agencies, and we continue to work right across the region to create stability and peace.