HC Deb 13 June 1990 vol 174 cc282-3
Mr. Andrew F. Bennett

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement about the situation in the Horn of Africa.

Mr. Waldegrave

In both Ethiopia and Somalia fighting has continued between Government and rebel forces with consequent suffering for the civilian population. We have participated actively in efforts to promote negotiations which offer the only prospect of lasting solutions and of tackling the problems of famine, refugees and underdevelopment.

Mr. Bennett

From the Minister's reply it is clear that he accepts—as, I am sure, does the whole House—that many people in both countries are still suffering from the effects of famine now and that it is likely that that famine will damage children, if they survive, for the rest of their lives. Will he redouble his efforts to bring peace to the area because only by ending the conflict can the problems of famine in the short term and of the long-term development of the area be tackled?

Mr. Waldegrave

The hon. Gentleman is right that the underlying restoration of peace is vital. We welcome the steps that have been taken by Mr. Nyerere and President Carter to get talks going on Ethiopia. There now seems to be some hope of them making progress; the Ethiopians have accepted the idea of a United Nations observer and we hope that the Eritreans will respond.

Mr. John Carlisle

Does my right hon. Friend agree that the only other country in the African continent that can assist with resources is South Africa, which is already doing what it can? Therefore, when Mr. Mandela visits my right hon. Friend and his colleagues in July [Interruption.]

Mr. Speaker

Order. The hon. Gentleman has a right to put his supplementary question in the way that he thinks proper.

Mr. Carlisle

When Mr. Mandela visits my right hon. Friend in July, will he impress upon him that his sanctions policy is futile, and out of date and will deny the peoples in the Horn of Africa the assistance that they could get from a prosperous and economically strong South Africa, which is anxious to help them?

Mr. Waldegrave

It is true that the most powerful economy of the continent should be governed by a just and proper constitution and that all the people should share in the ownership of the economic assets and in the political system that controls them. It is true also that those who seek to damage that economy for no other reason, as far as I can see, than to support an outdated position on sanctions are not helping the continent.

Forward to