HC Deb 07 January 2003 vol 397 c94W
John Barrett

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what impact fuel shortages are having on the transportation of food aid in Zimbabwe. [88685]

Clare Short

Fuel supplies have been erratic in Zimbabwe for the last three years. The problem is a direct consequence of economic mismanagement. Foreign exchange to pay for fuel is very scarce, yet it is still sold at controlled prices that do not cover costs.

Larger organisations such as the UN and International NGOs, and other Government missions including DFID, have contracted to purchase fuel direct from importers at world-market rates and pay in foreign currency. The WFP has buffer stocks, some of which are in the rural areas and their feeding programmes are not likely to be seriously disrupted.

Smaller organisations that rely on the commercial transport industry to distribute their food have been harder hit. However, these too are becoming more adept in covering short-term fuel problems, either through building up a reserve when fuel is available, or pre-positioning food supplies in rural areas. DFID's feeding partner organisations all pre-positioned food in the rural areas for the Christmas and new year period, and food distribution has continued.

The short-term impact of fuel shortages has therefore been minimal to date.

John Robertson

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what recent discussions she has had on the humanitarian situation in Zimbabwe. [89047]

Clare Short

The humanitarian crisis in Southern Africa was discussed at the 18 November meeting of the EU Council of Ministers. I have written to my counterparts in OECD countries urging them to give greater support to help relieve the humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe. The situation in Zimbabwe is a disaster. Of the 15.5 million people in need of food in southern Africa, 6.5 million are in Zimbabwe. One in three adults in Zimbabwe are infected with HIV. The UK has provided £38 million of assistance in response to the humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe since September 2001.

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