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Volume 705: debated on Tuesday 4 November 2008

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What steps they are taking to resolve the current conflict in the Niger Delta; and what humanitarian and other assistance they are providing to the region. [HL5406]

The UK continues to offer its political support for Nigerian-led initiatives to address the conflict in the Niger Delta. Solutions to the delta must include an inclusive peace process which respects the rights and interests of all stakeholders, improvements to the security situation in the short term, and commitment by federal and state Governments to improve governance and the livelihoods of local populations. My right honourable friend the Prime Minister made clear to President Yar'Adua when he visited the UK in July that we stood ready to support the Nigerian Government in their peace initiatives. My honourable friend Malcolm Wicks, Minister of State at the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform, and I reiterated UK support during our visits to Nigeria in August and September respectively.

The Government fund a number of projects to promote development and participatory governance in Nigeria and specifically in the delta. As agreed with President Yar'Adua during his visit, the Government have offered training and advisory support to help improve Nigerian military capability to provide security for the people of the delta. The Government are the biggest supporter of the Nigerian Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI). We work with international partners to promote the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights Initiative in Nigeria and to support the Gulf of Guinea Energy Security Strategy, a Nigerian-led forum for discussion on how to address security and sustainable development in the delta. The UK actively encourages the Nigerian Government to work closely with international oil companies to find a mutually acceptable timeframe for ending the practice of gas flaring, one of the main causes of environmental degradation in the delta region. The UK funds research into oil-fingerprinting in response to a Nigerian request for international assistance to combat oil bunkering.