Putney MP Quizzes Clare Short on Humanitarian Planning for Iraq

Tony Colman, the MP for Putney, today asked the Secretary of State for International Development what planning was underway to prepare for the humanitarian consequences of a possible war against Iraq.

The specially called investigation allowed members of the International Development Select Committee to ask Clare Short and her officials how prepared the UK, the UN agencies, and the international community in general are to deal with a possible humanitarian crisis in Iraq.

Following questions regarding possible refugee movements and food distribution in a conflict situation Tony Colman asked the Secretary of State whether her department's assessment of essential infrastructure such as hospitals, electricity and sewerage systems had been brought to the attention of the Ministry of Defence as it looks at possible military targets.

Clare Short assured the committee that representations were being made to the MOD in order to assist them avoid civilian targets and minimize the humanitarian impact of any military action. She added that these representations were being listened to and taken on board by the British Military.

The Select Committee investigation took evidence from the Secretary of State and NGOs in the region in order to ensure planning for the worst case scenario is taking place.

Tony Colman explained:

"We have been calling for an investigation into humanitarian scenarios for Iraq for some time. We have to plan for all scenarios and it is clear that the Department for International development and the UN agencies are now doing so."

Clare Short said she welcomed the opportunity to make public that planning to assist the civilian victims of any military action is underway. She also emphasised that a third UN resolution specifically on interim governance and humanitarian assistance for the people of Iraq would assist coordination of humanitarian operations whether a second resolution was passed or not.

On this and any other issues I am always keen to hear the views of Putney constituents. Please feel free to contact me via www.tonycolman.org.uk or by writing to me at the House of Commons.

13th February 2003

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