HC Deb 21 October 2002 vol 391 cc36-7W
Norman Lamb

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on progress in establishing a national security force in Afghanistan. [75222]

Mr. Mike O'Brien

The UK is working closely with Afghan and international partners, in particular the Americans, to help establish an effective and democratically accountable national army, and with the Germans to create a national police force.

To date, five battalions of Afghan troops have been trained, one by the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) when under UK leadership, three by the US and one by the French. Further battalions are under training. The UK is also contributing to the German-led national police force reform programme which is training over 1,500 recruits in the newly rebuilt Police Academy.

Work is progressing with the Afghan Transitional Administration to agree the structure of the Afghan police, army and border forces under democratically controlled security institutions. The UK is contributing to this process with a £5.7m project to assist with the creation of the office of the National Security Adviser.

Norman Lamb

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the security situation in Afghanistan outside Kabul. [75221]

Mr. Mike O'Brien

The security situation in Afghanistan outside Kabul remains unstable. There are occasional outbreaks of fighting between different Afghan groups, while the absence of effective law and order forces means that little is being done to combat crime.

A secure environment in Afghanistan is key to extending the rule of the Transitional Administration, to enabling humanitarian aid to be delivered and to allowing reconstruction work to continue. The UK continues to work closely with the United Nations and other interested states to help develop effective and democratically accountable Afghan security and law and order forces under Transitional Administration control.

Paul Flynn

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the most recent assessment is of the total area of land in Afghanistan under cultivation for poppies in each of the past 12 years; and what changes have occurred in the past year for which figures are available. [75020]

Mr. MacShane

The United Nations Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention has reported Afghanistan's opium poppy cultivation as follows:1990–41,300; 1991–50,800; 1992–49,300; 1993–58,300; 1994–71,470; 1995–53,759; 1996–56,824; 1997–58,416; 1998–63,674; 1999–90,583; 2000–82,171; 2001–7,606 (areas in hectares). The results of the 2002 survey have not yet been published.

Poppy cultivation remains concentrated in the provinces of Helmand, Nangarhar, Badakhshan, Oruzgan and Kandahar.

Forward to