HC Deb 18 March 1991 vol 188 cc17-8
32. Mr. Bowis

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what proposals he has for humanitarian and development aid to Somalia.

Mrs. Chanter

Conditions inside Somalia make the delivery of any form of aid extremely difficult. I have no plans at present to reinstate our development aid programme. I am ready to consider providing humanitarian aid directly once needs are defined and delivery can be assured. I have already provided emergency aid to Somali refugees who have fled from the current unrest.

Mr. Bowis

Does my right hon. Friend agree that Britain has a special interest in the well-being of the people of the north of Somalia because of our past relationship with British Somaliland and because of the number of Isak communities that there are here, including in my constituency? Will she take steps to go beyond what she has already achieved—she has given aid to people in Ethiopian refugee camps and helped the small water projects in the south—by bringing, through nongovernmental organisations, some sort of humanitarian aid to the north, which is a desperate district that has not so far been helped by the Government?

Mrs. Chalker

I am very much aware of what my hon. Friend has said. The Somali National Movement controlled the north. Unfortunately, the United Somali Congress-appointed president in the interim Government in Mogadishu lacked the nationwide support that is much needed. The northern clans have now set up a separate administration. We do not know whether we shall be able to get even humanitarian aid into those areas, but we are waiting to hear from non-governmental organisations and from the UNHCR missions that have gone there. As the Somali refugees continue to cross the border into Ethiopia, I am today announcing another £430,000 to be given to the UNHCR to help.

Ms. Abbott

Is it true that while 27 million people in Africa face starvation—including those in Somalia—the European Economic Community is diverting aid from the third world to eastern Europe? If so, do the Government support that?

Mrs. Chalker

The EC has put up front the money that it has committed to Africa. It is not diverting funds as far as I know and we should certainly not support it if it were.

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