HC Deb 16 July 2002 vol 389 cc176-7W
Ann Clwyd

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the repatriation of refugees to Afghanistan from neighbouring countries; and if he will make a statement on the infrastructural and security situation within Afghanistan. [69370]

Mr. Mike O'Brien

So far approximately 1.2 million refugees have returned to Afghanistan from neighbouring countries. Since September 2001, the UK has contributed over £5 million to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) for their programme of assistance to Afghan refugees, and over £3.5 million to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) for assistance to internally displaced persons (IDPs) and returnees to Afghanistan. We are also supporting a number of other humanitarian programmes which will help to create an environment for the sustainable return of both refugees and IDPs, including the United Nations-led programme of mine clearance and mine awareness in Afghanistan.

Years of fighting and instability have taken their toll on Afghan infrastructure, which has had a direct impact on humanitarian, reconstruction and rehabilitation work in Afghanistan. A World bank trust fund has been established to co-ordinate international development assistance for Afghanistan, including for infrastructure.

The overall security situation in Kabul has improved greatly since ISAF began its operations there last December. However, the security situation elsewhere in Afghanistan is more uncertain, and there are many challenges still to face. The key to improving security throughout Afghanistan is to offer the Afghans assistance with Security Sector Reform. We are leading on the counter narcotics effort, with the US leading on army training, the Germans on police training, the Italians on judicial reform, and the Japanese on demobilisation.

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