Tanzania

Oral Answers to Questions — Overseas Development – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 27th January 1997.

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Photo of Mr Win Griffiths Mr Win Griffiths , Bridgend 12:00 am, 27th January 1997

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what additional assistance has been provided in the last year to help Tanzania cope with the influx of refugees from Rwanda and Burundi. [11141]

Photo of Liam Fox Liam Fox Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign and Commonwealth Office)

Britain has committed £3 million bilaterally since January 1996 to help Tanzania to cope. We are ready to do more.

Photo of Mr Win Griffiths Mr Win Griffiths , Bridgend

I thank the Minister for that response, and I am very pleased that the Government's emergency aid to Tanzania has been increasing. However, will he stop for a moment, ponder the wider picture and try to imagine what would happen if, for example, half a million people suddenly moved into the south-west of England, Wales or the highlands of Scotland and started to live off the land, on which they were dependent for all their requirements? A radical transformation in economic and financial policy is occurring in Tanzania. In such circumstances, why have the Government halved their general aid programme to that country in the past five years? Will they now admit that they should be doing more to help the Hutu refugees return to their own country?

Photo of Liam Fox Liam Fox Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign and Commonwealth Office)

I returned last week from a trip to Tanzania. I discussed the refugee problem with the Tanzanian Government, whom the House should congratulate on the efficient and sensitive way in which they have dealt with the Rwandan refugees, given the size and the nature of the problem. We have already provided substantial aid and we are willing to do more. The problem that the Tanzanian Government identified was not a matter of need as such, but of access to many refugee groups. The Government are constantly looking at that problem. We have an open dialogue with Tanzania and if the Tanzanian Government ask for specific help, we shall certainly consider it.