HC Deb 30 January 2002 vol 379 cc309-10W
21. Lynne Jones

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if she will make a statement about the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan. [29144]

Clare Short

Thanks to the efforts of the UN-led humanitarian system, and with the support of the international community, a potential humanitarian catastrophe has been averted in Afghanistan. But at least five million people will remain dependent on food aid and other emergency support over the coming year. Unless there is significant rainfall in the next few weeks, a fourth consecutive year of drought looks likely. Large numbers of Afghans are beginning to return from neighbouring countries, including around 10,000 people from Iran in the last few weeks, and approximately 3,000 a day from Pakistan.

While it is vital that we prepare for longer-term development in Afghanistan, we must also continue to provide urgent humanitarian assistance, particularly over the remaining winter months. The UN has launched an Immediate and Transitional Assistance Programme (ITAP) for the Afghan people in 2002. This paper identifies a package of unmet humanitarian needs and calls for $736 million of donor support this year to help cover gaps in emergency provision.

At the Tokyo conference on Afghan reconstruction earlier this week, I announced a UK commitment of £200 million ($288 million) over the next five years. These funds will be used for both reconstruction and humanitarian assistance in Afghanistan.

27. Tony Cunningham

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if she will make a statement on the outcome of the Tokyo conference on reconstruction and development in Afghanistan. [29150]

Clare Short

I refer my hon. Friend to my statement to the House on 28 January 2002,Official Report, column 21–36.

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