Topical debates — Kenya

Part of Business of the House – in the House of Commons at 2:33 pm on 17th January 2008.

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Photo of Meg Munn Meg Munn Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) 2:33 pm, 17th January 2008

I referred to a broader donor co-ordination group, which has agreed a public statement to ensure international co-ordination so that all those involved are aware of the position. The EU signed the development partners' statement, which agreed to reconsider budget support if the current situation continues and to channel a larger share of assistance through civil society organisations and the private sector. I therefore believe that I can give hon. Members the assurance that they seek that we are considering the matter carefully, that international organisations and partners are doing the same, that we will keep the position under review and that my hon. Friends in the Department for International Development will ensure that aid concerns are tackled.

The most urgent humanitarian needs are clearly being prioritised. International non-governmental organisations can still operate in Kenya and I am informed that, so far, only World Vision has withdrawn any staff.

Let me deal with some of the specific questions, especially those of the hon. Member for Mid-Norfolk. My noble Friend Lord Malloch-Brown has spoken to Kofi Annan about the African Union proposal and his visit. There are no current plans for UK Ministers to visit and we support the African Union-Annan process. We are non-partisan and we are talking to all sides.

We have seen reports from human rights organisations in Kenya that some violence was premeditated and our high commission is looking into those. To answer the question that the hon. Member for Mid-Norfolk asked, our high commissioner is Adam Wood, who has been there since 2005 and is well respected. I had a video conference with him yesterday, in which he gave me an update on the situation. The current tension is concerning and we are monitoring it closely. We know that live ammunition has been used. We as the Government utterly condemn that and call upon the Kenyan authorities to stop its use.

We know that the Kenyan military has supported humanitarian work, and we have so far heard no reports of the army's cohesion breaking down. Similarly, we are aware of reports that the Ugandan army is in Kenya, but our investigations have turned up no evidence of its presence. While we are on Uganda, we also believe that between 3,000 and 4,000 Kenyans have moved to Uganda and are receiving humanitarian support there.

To move on to the electoral situation and the future of the process, our high commissioner, Adam Wood, raised the issue of appointments to the electoral commission with the Kenyan Foreign Minister at the time. Hon. Members asked how aware we were ahead of the elections that there might be problems, and I can assure them that those concerns were raised at the time. The election day itself was calm.