HC Deb 07 September 2004 vol 424 c1067W
Mr. Pike

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he had with(a) the Venezuelan Government, (b) international aid organisations and (c) others in the months which followed the 1999 Caracas floods; what support the British Government offered to (i) the Venezuelan Government and (ii) international aid organisations who were working there; and if he will make a statement. [186413]

Mr. Gareth Thomas

I have been asked to reply.

Following close liaison with the British embassy in Caracas and key operational partners in the field, DFID initially provided 500,000 to Venezuela following the floods in December 1999. This was used to support the World Health Organisation (WHO), the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the Red Cross. The funds went towards providing emergency assistance for those affected and initiating long-term rehabilitation for up to 10,000 families.

The right hon. Member for Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley, Mr George Foulkes, the then DFID Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, later held detailed discussions with the Venezuelan ambassador about DFID's role in providing assistance to the people of Venezuela. DFID also deployed experts to liaise with Venezuelan authorities and humanitarian organisations to identify priority needs. We then provided a further £300,000 in January 2000 to WHO (to expand their programme), the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (to fund two disaster management specialists) and the Red Cross (to ensure continuity of relief assistance towards the full-scale recovery process).