Burundi

Oral Answers to Questions — Overseas Development – in the House of Commons am 12:00 am ar 22 Gorffennaf 1996.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Nick Ainger Nick Ainger , Pembroke 12:00, 22 Gorffennaf 1996

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on his Department's involvement in aid projects in Burundi. [36785]

Photo of Mr Jeremy Hanley Mr Jeremy Hanley , Richmond and Barnes

Britain has committed nearly £8 million in humanitarian assistance to Burundi since October 1993, including £2.9 million through our share of European Union contributions. We are ready to provide further assistance as needs arise.

Photo of Nick Ainger Nick Ainger , Pembroke

Does the Minister accept that a lot more may be needed in Burundi if we are to prevent a repetition of the tragedy of Rwanda? Has he seen the recent comments of Julius Nyerere, the former President of Tanzania, following his investigation in Burundi to try to find a resolution? Does he accept that Julius Nyerere suggests that the EU and the United Nations should become significantly involved in the internal affairs of Burundi and that otherwise the slaughter of 500,000 people that happened in Rwanda is likely to be repeated?

Photo of Mr Jeremy Hanley Mr Jeremy Hanley , Richmond and Barnes

The hon. Gentleman is right to be deeply concerned about the recent deterioration in the political and security situation in Burundi. We read only this morning in the newspapers of the massacre of 300 Tutsis and of expulsions. It is a difficult and distressing situation. We condemn politically motivated violence, from whatever quarter. The solution to the problems requires the commitment of Burundi's leaders and the involvement of the international community, as he said.

We continue to work closely with the UN Secretary-General and his special representatives in the region and we strongly support the international efforts at preventive diplomacy, led by ex-President Nyerere. We contribute to the costs of his mission. My right hon. and learned Friend the Foreign Secretary of State and my right hon. and noble Friend the Minister for Overseas Development met Julius Nyerere in London on 2 May to discuss ways forward. He recognises the immensity of his task and that durable solutions will require the agreement of the parties in Burundi.

Photo of Miss Betty Boothroyd Miss Betty Boothroyd Speaker of the House of Commons

That was a long answer—almost a statement.

Photo of Miss Emma Nicholson Miss Emma Nicholson , Torridge and West Devon

Does the Minister agree that the World Service was particularly important in the transmission of accurate information during the tragedy in Rwanda? Would he confirm, as he has not yet done, despite two questions being asked, that the funding for that World Service network came largely from the voluntary organisations? Does he agree that the World Service needs to be supported and enhanced if it is to assist in tragedies such as that in Burundi?

Photo of Miss Betty Boothroyd Miss Betty Boothroyd Speaker of the House of Commons

Order. It is about time the hon. Lady came to the substantive question on the Order Paper.

If the Minister wishes to answer, I think that the hon. Lady was referring to the World Service as it is received in Burundi. Is that correct?

Photo of Mr Jeremy Hanley Mr Jeremy Hanley , Richmond and Barnes

I am pleased to be able to say that the World Service will continue to be received throughout the world. Its efficacy in Africa is without question. The World Service carries an extremely important role in Burundi and further afield, and the Government support it—to the tune of more than 50 per cent. in real terms since we came to power in 1979.