HC Deb 04 February 1985 vol 72 cc611-2
56. Mr. Mark Robinson

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what further action Her Majesty's Government are taking to assist drought victims in the Sudan.

Mr. Raison

Some 15,000 tonnes of our own cereals aid will shortly reach Port Sudan through the world food programme, and we expect the European Community, which has already committed 51,000 tonnes, to allot further substantial amounts from the 1.2 million tonnes agreed at the Dublin summit.

From our bilateral programme £7.5 million has been provided to the international refugee organisations and to voluntary agencies working in the Sudan, either in food or in cash. I have today agreed a further £500,000 to assist the Save the Children Fund, one of the British voluntary agencies working in both east and west Sudan.

Mr. Robinson

I welcome my right hon. Friend's statement. He will be aware, from the television coverage over the weekend, of the problem of refugees coming from Ethiopia into Sudan. Will he consider visiting Sudan to ensure that the assistance being given is used in the most effective manner?

Mr. Raison

I am very much aware of the great public concern about the situation in the Sudan, and I intend to visit the Sudan this month.

Mr. Tom Clarke

Does the right hon. Gentleman share the obvious disappointment of his right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, who said in the House last week that the Foreign Affairs Council had not met anything like the target that it had in mind for helping these areas? Given that view, will the right hon. Gentleman, as a Minister, add his support to the voice of the British public in saying that they will not accept that the food mountains are growing and that we are not making the contribution of which we are capable?

Mr. Raison

The contribution agreed by the European Community is a very substantial one, because 1.2 million tonnes of food grain is a very large amount. What remains to be done is to make sure that that food aid is allocated to those places where it is most desperately needed, rather than be used somewhat indiscriminately, as has sometimes been the case.