Written Answers. - United Nations Population Fund.

Seán Haughey

Question:

91 Mr. Haughey asked the asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs whether he will withdraw Government funding to the United Nations Fund for Population Activities in view of recent reports regarding the condition of children in Chinese orphanages; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [

The United Nations Population Fund provides assistance in the field of population, including family planning and awareness and education programmes, in response to requests from developing countries.

UNFPA is financed from contributions by Governments and private donors. Ireland has provided annual contributions to UNFPA of £50,000 in 1993, £100,000 in 1994 and £250,000 in 1995 in support of its valuable work in developing countries.

UNFPA is committed by its mandates to the principles of voluntarism in its programmes of assistance throughout the world. It has categorically stated that it does not support China's one-child policy and is opposed to targets and quotas to enforce such a policy.

UNFPA also states that it has maintained a constant dialogue with the Chinese authorities about abuses of human rights in its population programme. It has also formulated special projects specifically designed to point out the practical advantages of a purely voluntary programme.

I have been informed that UNFPA has also requested China to review and moderate provincial and local regulations that are not in conformity with international human rights standards and that it is UNFPA policy to take up each report of alleged coercion directly with the Chinese authorities. Twice in the past six months — on 13 October 1995 and 17 January 1996 — my Department has sought assurances from UNFPA that it carefully monitors all of its projects to ensure full and rigorous adherence to universally accepted standards of human rights. UNFPA confirmed that this is the case.
In a statement issued on 10 January 1996, UNFPA expressed its deep concern about recent reports that children have been systematically abused and neglected in state orphanages in China and stated that it is asking the Chinese authorities for clarification of the issues raised.
I fully share the Deputy's deep concern and the concern of the international community about the reports in respect of Chinese orphanages. However, I am satisfied on the basis of UNFPA's statement and assurances that the reports hold no implications for UNFPA's integrity or the manner in which its projects in China have been conducted.