DFID – SIERRA LEONE – 6 March 2001

Dr Julian Lewis: I thank the Secretary of State [Clare Short] for giving way. Would she consider it appropriate to consider in this context the aid that we might give in Sierra Leone? As the right hon. Lady is well aware, we are giving a great deal of military aid to Sierra Leone, where there is an amputee camp which her hon. Friend the Member for Ilford, South (Mr Gapes) and I visited recently. More than 200 victims of the Revolutionary United Front rebels had their hands chopped off – in one case, a little girl aged only 13 months. We were shocked to see people trying to manufacture artificial limbs unaided by any skilled help or, apparently, any outside help. In that context, will she consider providing aid for the victims of war in especially deserving cases?

[Clare Short: Yes; indeed, we already provide such aid. I have visited the camp about which the hon. Gentleman speaks, which was a deeply moving and distressing place. The Government are absolutely committed to the current effort in Sierra Leone to retake 50 percent of the territory that is held by the Revolutionary United Front, a criminal gang that is interested mostly in diamonds and which seeks to use the power of terror instead of fighting. That is why it uses amputation, and it should be defeated. We have provided help to the amputees in the past and we will continue to support such objectives. As a country, we are the biggest supporter of the part of Sierra Leone that is controlled by the Government. We provide about £35 million of support a year and we will see it through until all of Sierra Leone is in Government hands. Thus, people who have suffered amputation can at least look forward to peace and a decent life in future.]