Sri Lanka

Oral Answers to Questions — International Development – in the House of Commons at 11:30 am on 22nd January 2003.

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Photo of Clare Short Clare Short Secretary of State, Department for International Development

I have met the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka and members of his Government on a number of occasions since the peace process began. At the Oslo conference in November, I pledged £8 million in assistance from my Department in 2003 for quick-impact projects to support the peace process. In 2002, we provided £2.6 million.

Photo of Elfyn Llwyd Elfyn Llwyd Shadow PC Spokesperson (Home Affairs), Shadow Spokesperson (Business, Innovation and Skills), Shadow Spokesperson (Communities and Local Government), Shadow Spokesperson (Culture, Media and Sport), Shadow Spokesperson (Defence)

I thank the right hon. Lady for that reply. Recently, she told me that the Government were providing £2.6 million through the UN to help internally displaced people to be rehoused and resettled. Will she please impress on the Sri Lankan Government the need to remove the 40,000 soldiers who are currently occupying the Tamil homes and homelands in the north-east of the country? In the meantime, will she also have a word with the Home Secretary and ask him whether it is possible to impose a moratorium on deportations of Tamil asylum seekers until they can return home safely?

Photo of Clare Short Clare Short Secretary of State, Department for International Development

I think that there is real hope for a successful peace process in Sri Lanka. The war has continued for a long time and has become increasingly brutal. It is good to have prospects of peace in one part of the world; the situation is not secure, but there is real progress. The two sides are talking, we are very supportive of the process and I am very hopeful. I take account of the hon. Gentleman's suggestion to the Home Secretary and I shall ensure that it is conveyed to him. The movement of soldiers needs to be discussed and agreed between the two sides, but we would obviously expect progress in that direction.