HC Deb 22 July 1996 vol 282 c12
29. Mr. Hunter

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how much (a) bilateral and (b) multilateral assistance the Government (i) gave to Sudan in 1995–96 and (ii) plans to give to Sudan in 1996–97. [36801]

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Mr. Jeremy Hanley)

While we have given no aid to the Government of Sudan since 1991, last year—1995–96—we spent an estimated £6 million bilaterally and in 1995 committed more than £2 million through multilateral agencies, including the European Union, on the emergency and short-term rehabilitation needs of the Sudanese people. We are ready to address such needs again this year as they arise.

Mr. Hunter

In the light of the linkage, which the Government sometimes stress, between overseas aid and civil liberty and human rights, will my right hon. Friend make an assessment of the situation in that respect in Sudan? To what extent is it influencing the Government's overseas aid programme there?

Mr. Hanley

As I said, the human rights situation in Sudan is extremely serious, but we do not give aid to the Sudanese Government. We are very concerned about human rights in Sudan. It was again condemned at the recent United Nations Commission on Human Rights. Allegations of slavery and genocide have, of course, attracted serious attention. We are also concerned about policies to prevent freedom of speech and the pursuit of Islamisation by force, which are equally unacceptable. The economic situation is dire, and life for ordinary Sudanese people is extremely hard.