HC Deb 25 February 1985 vol 74 cc16-7
45. Mr. Mark Robinson

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on his recent visit to Sudan.

Mr. Raison

My visit enabled me to see the relief programmes being mounted for the Sudanese famine victims and for the very large numbers of refugees who have entered Sudan. Very substantial food supplies are now beginning to build up. I have decided to allocate a further 30,000 tonnes of bilateral food aid now so that this can arrive before the June rains. In addition, I am making a further £1 million available to be divided between Oxfam and Save the Children Fund.

During my visit I was also able to have discussions with President Nimeiri, as well as visiting development projects being financed from British and European Community aid.

Mr. Robinson

I am sure that all hon. Members will welcome the speed of my right hon. Friend's response following his visit to the Sudan. The problem in that country is not so much the supply of relief but the means of getting it to the places where it is needed. During his visit, did my right hon. Friend examine that aspect to see whether there was any way in which Britain could help with transport?

Mr. Raison

I am grateful for what my hon. Friend said about my announcement. It is helpful to note that many lorries are available in the Sudan, but that does not mean that all the transport problems can be solved. Diesel and petrol are in especially short supply and the position must be watched carefully. We are providing help at the port and to the railway system.

Mr. Tony Lloyd

Will the Minister confirm that what is most important for the Sudan and the entire region is not simply energy aid, important though that is, but a guarantee of long-term development projects, especially for reafforestation, the prevention of soil erosion and the provision of adequate water supplies? Should not such projects be at the forefront of Government thinking?

Mr. Raison

I confirm that in the Sudan the problem is not just one of short-term famine relief. It is extremely important that there should be long-term development. During my visit I examined projects financed by Britain and the EC covering exactly the activities to which the hon. Gentleman referred. Britain has a substantial development programme in the Sudan.

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