HC Deb 09 November 1979 vol 973 cc345-6W
Mr. Carter-Jones

asked the Lord Privy Seal what action he has taken regarding the provision of relief for those suffering in Cambodia; if he will indicate what representations he has made; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Neil Marten

On 6 October the Secretary of State announced the Government's decision to provide famine relief for Cambodia, including an airlift, food supplies and financial assistance to the international relief agencies.

An RAF Hercules aircraft was put at the disposal of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and made its first flight into Phnom Penh on 13 October, carrying Land-Rovers and a fork lift truck. That aircraft has since been making regular flights from Bangkok to Phnom Penh with more vehicles and other supplies; and these flights will continue on a daily basis until about 18 November.

Another aircraft was chartered, and on 26 October flew relief supplies provided by the British voluntary agencies from Britain to Cambodia. At least 1,800 tons of rice is being given as soon as possible, through the agency of the World Food Programme, for distribution in Cambodia under the auspices of the ICRC/UNICEF relief programme.

At the pledging conference in New York on 5 November, convened by the United Nations Secretary-General, I made it clear that the Government are seriously concerned about the situation in Cambodia, keen for the pledging conference to succeed, and anxious that all the aid promised should be effectively delivered to the people who most need it. I announced that, subject to parliamentary approval, the British Government would give the equivalent of US$ 4 million jointly to ICRC and UNICEF and the equivalent of US$ 1 million to British voluntary agencies to support their relief efforts for Cambodia.

The total cost of this direct relief programme is more than £3.5 million. That is in addition to our indirect contributions through aid being provided by the European Economic Community as a group. Britain's share of the cost of the present firm EEC commitments, exclusive of food aid already pledged, will be about £3.5 million.