HC Deb 08 December 1999 vol 340 cc817-8
7. Mr. Jim Cousins (Newcastle upon Tyne, Central)

What steps she is taking to assist the relief of Afghan refugees in Iran. [100354]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for International Development (Mr. George Foulkes)

The Government and people of Iran have shown great generosity in hosting large numbers of Afghan refugees. My Department has recently agreed to fund a number of projects in order to improve health and education services and to promote small businesses.

Mr. Cousins

I welcome what my hon. Friend has had to say about recent improvements, but does he recognise that the fate of those 1 million Afghan refugees in Iran could be a major destabilising factor in the politics of that troubled region? Will he continue to offer every possible assistance to alleviate that problem?

Mr. Foulkes

I can give my hon. Friend that assurance. We are providing £1.5 million for the refugee assistance programme, which we shall continue to support. The Afghan donors support group is meeting today in Ottawa. I was going to be there, but I felt it more important to be here to answer my hon. Friend.