HL Deb 16 June 2003 vol 649 cc80-1WA
Lord Dubs

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What is the humanitarian situation in Iraq. [HL3372]

The Secretary of State for International Development (Baroness Amos)

The immediate humanitarian situation in Iraq is improving, although many challenges lie ahead. DfID's contribution to this effort is significant. We have already committed £115 million to support the work of humanitarian agencies in the current crisis; £99 million of this has been allocated to specific activities through United Nations agencies (£63.8 million), the Red Cross and Red Crescent (£32 million) and NGOs (£3.4 million). These are the organisations best placed to deliver humanitarian assistance where it is most needed. We have also set aside a further £95 million to meet additional needs as they emerge. DfID teams on the ground in Baghdad and Basra are working with the coalition provisional authority and UK military, and helping to co-ordinate the humanitarian effort.

Progess is being made. Basra now has as much water as it did before the conflict; all 12 main hospitals in Baghdad are functioning; rubbish is being removed from the streets of Baghdad and Basra; the food distribution system is working again and has sufficient pipeline stocks of the main commodities; electricity supply sytems are being repaired; public sector salaries are being paid; and Iraqi policemen are returning to duty.

Much remains to be done however. One of the most critical challenges is ensuring law and order, and managing the security sector to ensure that the Iraqi police and armed forces are reformed effectively, and that demobilised soldiers are reintegrated properly into civilian life. More needs to be done to improve Iraq's capacity to provide its people with basic services such as health, education, clean water and sanitation. It will also be important to maintain the effort to clear Iraq of mines and unexploded ordnance, some of which go back to Saddam Hussein's war with Iran in the 1980s; and to make possible the orderly return of Iraqi refugees from neighbouring countries.

It will also be important to ensure as far as possible the full involvement of women in political and economic affairs, to rebuild Iraqi civil society, to develop independent news media, and to create a favourable environment for Iraqi private sector development.

The Development Fund for Iraq will be the central means for financing Iraq's public services, as well as meeting the costs of reconstruction and development, during the process of political transformation. It will be essential that the fund's priority setting and resource allocation processes work as transparently as possible for the clear benefit of the Iraqi people, as envisaged in UN Security Council Resolution 1483 of 22 May.

The United Nations is preparing an update of its Flash Appeal for Iraq. It will be discussed at an official level meeting in New York on 23 June, which will be followed by an informal meeting of donors. Any further DfID contribution towards emergency humanitarian assistance will be considered in view of the needs id entified in the revised appeal and the outcome of the discussions in New York. Consideration of the allocation of DfID funding for longer-term reconstruction and development will be undertaken in light of the social and economic needs assessments currently being carried out by the World Bank, IMF and United Nations.