HC Deb 13 February 2004 vol 418 cc107-8W
Mr. Robathan

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what the implications for UK aid assistance to Nigeria are of the Nigerian Government's attempts to procure ballistic missiles and associated weapons technology; and what representations he has made to Nigerian representatives on the issue. [155489]

Hilary Benn

Speculation that Nigeria has attempted to procure military equipment from North Korea has not been substantiated and Nigerian Government spokesmen claim to have been misreported. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has nonetheless made representations to the Nigerian authorities about Britain's policy and position. DFID's criterion for allocating development assistance is where we can make the greatest impact on reducing poverty—as expressed by the UN Millennium Development Goals. The Nigerian Government has embarked on an ambitious programme of reform that provides the best opportunity for substantial and lasting poverty reduction in a generation. DFID is committed to supporting this.

Mr. Tynan

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment he has made of the situation in Plateau State, Nigeria; and what action the Government are taking to support peace and conflict resolution initiatives there. [155566]

Hilary Benn

Violent outbreaks throughout Nigeria are a matter of great concern to the Nigerian Government. The roots of conflicts can be hard to establish: groups tend to divide on religious and ethnic grounds but the underlying causes are often more complex.

DFID, the FCO and the MOD have developed a joint conflict prevention strategy for Nigeria, in partnership with the Nigerian Institute for Conflict Prevention and Resolution. As part of this strategy, the British Government are supporting the International Centre for Reconciliation at Coventry Cathedral, who has been supporting reconciliation and conflict transformation work in Plateau State, at the invitation of the Governor.

The British High Commission maintains close contact with the Nigerian authorities, and regularly visits afflicted areas.