Democratic Republic of Congo

International Development written question – answered on 7th November 2001.

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Photo of Mr Tony Colman Mr Tony Colman Labour, Putney

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment she has made of the (a) humanitarian situation and (b) situation of children in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

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

A recent Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) study on food security reported the DRC as having the world's most dramatic rise in malnutrition. This affects nearly two-thirds of the population. Infant and maternal mortality figures also continue to rise. With some progress on the peace process and a gradual improvement in access for humanitarian agencies, we have this year substantially increased the level of support for humanitarian work.

The children of the DRC have a particularly vulnerable status. School enrolment is low and three out of four of these children drop out before they are able to finish their education. We have been particularly concerned about the use of child soldiers in the conflict and have repeatedly called on all parties to respect the rights of the child and urge them to initiate disarmament, demobilisation and rehabilitation programmes for children. We will continue to monitor the situation and call for all parties to respect and promote the rights of the child.

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