HC Deb 06 March 2002 vol 381 cc329-31W
19. Joyce Quin

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if she will make a statement on progress on the reconstruction of the Afghan economy. [37333]

Clare Short

We continue to work with the Afghan Interim Administration (AU) to begin the reconstruction of Afghanistan, while continuing to support immediate humanitarian assistance and quick impact recovery and rehabilitation projects. The newly established Assistance Coordination Authority in Afghanistan will be the primary focal point for co-ordination with the AU. The United Nations Development Programme currently administers the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund for the payment of civil service salaries, to which DFID has contributed over £2 million. Later this year the World bank will establish a successor trust fund. We are also participating in missions led by the International Monetary Fund to assess what support could be provided to the Ministry of Finance and the Central bank. At the Tokyo Conference on the reconstruction of Afghanistan in January 2002, I pledged £200 million from DFID's budget over the next five years for both reconstruction and humanitarian assistance.

22. Hugh Robertson

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if she will make a statement on the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan. [37336]

25. Mr. Burns

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if she will make a statement on the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan. [37339]

Clare Short

The humanitarian situation in Afghanistan remains fragile and significant needs will remain for some time to come in challenging and volatile operating conditions. Due to severe weather conditions and continuing security concerns in some areas of the country, there are still pockets of un-met need where vulnerable people cannot be reached. With our support, the United Nations and other humanitarian agencies continue to do what they can to overcome these obstacles and deliver life-saving assistance to those in need. Since October 2001, a record 250,000 tonnes of food aid have been distributed to over 6 million people.

Joan Ruddock

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment she has made of the UN Economic and Social Council report "Discrimination against women and children in Afghanistan"; and if she will adopt its recommendations in respect of UK operations in Afghanistan. [38130]

Clare Short

We welcome the UN Economic and Social Council's report on discrimination against women and girls in Afghanistan and support its recommendations.

We recognise the need to build the capacity of Afghanistan's women to enable them to take full part in the reconstruction of their society, including the new Interim Administration, and to ensure that legal, constitutional and other provisions are not discriminatory against women. Our funding for support of Afghan women during the recovery and reconstruction of Afghanistan is being channelled through United Nations agencies and non-governmental organisations who will work closely with the Interim Administration and who have expressed a commitment to involving Afghan women in the design and implementation of their strategies and programmes.

To date this includes an allocation of $1 million to the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) for a programme to support Afghan women's leadership through awareness raising, capacity building and mainstreaming of gender issues in development activities; $0.5 million to the UN Office of the High Commission for Human Rights (OHCHR) for preliminary human rights assistance activities in Afghanistan; as well as local level, quick impact recovery projects supporting women. We are also in discussion with the Afghan Ministry for Women's Affairs on how we can provide support for its establishment and activities.

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