Roundup of Questions on Darfur


A roundup of questions on Darfur/The Congo

put to Her Majesty’s Government by David Alton

Sudan: Darfur

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty’s Government:

What reports they have received about the recent heavy fighting in Darfur, involving the Sudanese army and the Janjaweed militia; and what information they have about the numbers of recent fatalities and casualties.[HL7580]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Triesman): There are credible reports that in recent weeks Arab militia forces, the “Janjaweed”, have been acting in close co-operation with the Government of Sudan air force and armed forces in attacking non-signatory rebel groups in Darfur. We have consistently made clear to the Government of Sudan that they must stop the fighting and implement the peace agreement, including by disarming the Janjaweed. My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for International Development intends to raise this with the Government when he travels to Sudan later this month.

No reliable figures exist for the numbers of conflict-related dead and injured. Exact figures are unlikely ever to be known. But every death, casualty or rape in Sudan is a tragedy. That is why we are pressing the Government of Sudan and the rebel groups to stop the fighting; to agree to the deployment of a UN force in Darfur; to co-operate in bolstering the African Union in the interim; to commit to and implement the Darfur peace agreement; and to ensure full humanitarian access for the UN and non-governmental organisations in Darfur.


Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty’s Government:

What role they are playing to ensure that an international peacekeeping presence in Darfur will be sustained; and whether they envisage a role for British and NATO troops in such a peacekeeping force.[HL7581]

Lord Triesman: The UK is continuing to support the African Union (AU) mission in Darfur (AMIS). We were its first donor and have to date provided £52 million of assistance. This has been used for budgetary support, to purchase vehicles and other equipment, and to airlift troops to and from Darfur. The AU is now planning to increase the size of AMIS by two battalions (approximately 1,200 troops). We stand ready to assist it in this. Meanwhile, at our urging, the UN is helping to bolster AMIS prior to any transition to a UN force. We are considering contributing additional UK personnel as part of the UN assistance package to the AU, before a UN peacekeeping force deploys as mandated by UN Security Council Resolution 1706.

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty’s Government:

What assessment they have made of the eye witness account of Paul Salopek in the report he was compiling for National Geographic magazine about the situation in Darfur, his subsequent arrest and imprisonment by the Sudanese authorities; and what representations they are making to the Government of Sudan about this matter.[HL7584]

Lord Triesman: While reporting on the culture and history of the Sahel for National Geographic magazine, Paul Salopek, a freelance journalist, crossed the border from Chad into Sudan without a visa. He was arrested and imprisoned on 6 August on charges of entering the country without a visa, passing information illegally and espionage.

Following representations by the US Government to the Government of Sudan, Mr Salopek, a US National, was released on 9 September.

(HL Hansard, 17th October 2006, cols. 183–184WA)


Sudan: Darfur

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty’s Government:

What progress is being made on the implementation of the United Nations Security Council resolutions relating to Darfur; what is their current assessment of the security and humanitarian situation in Darfur; and what are their current assessments of total numbers of fatalities and displaced people since the conflict began.[HL7465]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Triesman): The UN Security Council has a range of resolutions to address the appalling situation in Darfur. The council adopted UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1591 in March 2005 to sanction individuals who are impeding the peace process and violating human rights in Darfur. It established a panel of experts to make recommendations in this respect. The council adopted UNSCR 1672 in April 2006 to impose sanctions on a first group of individuals. We strongly support the panel of experts’ continuing work. We agreed to extend its mandate in UNSCR 1713, adopted on 29 September 2006.

In UNSCR 1564, the council established an international commission of inquiry to investigate reports of violations of international humanitarian law and human rights law in Darfur by all parties. This body reported in January 2005. In March 2005, we helped secure UNSCR 1593, referring the situation in Darfur to the International Criminal Court (ICC). We continue to work with our international partners to maintain pressure on all parties, including the Government of Sudan, to provide full co-operation to the ICC as it carries out its investigative work.

In May 2006, UNSCR 1679 called for the full and rapid implementation of the Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA) signed on 5 May in Abuja, and on the non-signatories to join the peace process. Progress here has been slow and insufficient. We are working actively in Darfur, with the Government of Sudan, and with our international partners to ensure the parties to the DPA implement their commitments and to bring non-signatories to sign the accord.

On 31 August 2006, the council authorised a UN Mission for Darfur to replace the current African Union (AU) Mission (AMIS). We are working with the UN Secretary-General, Security Council partners, the AU and the League of Arab States to secure Sudanese consent and co-operation for that mission. In the mean time, the United Nations will provide additional support to help bolster AMIS until a UN mission can deploy.

The security situation in Darfur remains critical. The Sudanese armed forces launched a major offensive against rebels in Darfur in late August, which has also resulted in civilian deaths and displacements. Rebel violence has also affected humanitarian operations. We are calling urgently for an end to these military offensives.

The humanitarian situation is precarious and has the potential to deteriorate very rapidly. Access for humanitarian agencies is already severely hampered by banditry, fighting and attacks on aid workers and hijacking of their vehicles. Any significant change in the security situation could result in a sharp decline in humanitarian conditions. For example, the withdrawal of agencies from Gereida in South Darfur, following prolonged interfactional fighting last weekend, has left an extremely vulnerable population of over 100,000. The number of persons displaced since the conflict began is estimated to be around 2 million. Since April 2004, we have contributed over £190 million in humanitarian assistance to Sudan. We are supporting the World Food Programme through the Common Humanitarian Fund, to which we have contributed £49 million in 2006, making up approximately 66 per cent of its total. £24 million of bilateral aid in 2006 is in support of the International Committee of the Red Cross and non-governmental organisations.

Estimates of the number of those who have died as a result of the conflict in Darfur vary widely. The most commonly cited figure is around 200,000 but this remains an estimate based on extrapolation from limited available data.

(HL Hansard, 10th October 2006, cols. 142–144WA)


Sudan: Darfur

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty’s Government:

Whether they intend to raise with the Governments of China, Chad, Libya and Eritrea the findings of the recent United Nations report, The Supply of Small Arms, about the continuing sale of arms to the Darfur region of Sudan.[HL6787]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Triesman): There is a UN arms embargo on Darfur and an EU arms embargo on the whole of Sudan. The UK scrupulously follows both of these. There is evidence, including in the recent report prepared by the UN Panel of Experts for Sudan, that the arms embargo is being breached by all sides involved in the Darfur conflict and by others in the region.

We are aware of reports that Chinese weapons have been found in Darfur. We are actively encouraging China and other states to support work towards an arms trade treaty which would end the irresponsible trade in conventional arms.

We have had no recent discussions on arms with Chad, Libya and Eritrea. However, we continue to discuss with all the states of the region how to promote lasting peace and stability in Darfur.

(HL Hansard, 14th July 2006, col. 157WA)


Sudan: Darfur

11.22 am

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty’s Government:

What are their current estimates of the total fatalities and numbers of displaced people in Darfur and what their assessment is of progress in ending the conflict.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Triesman): My Lords, estimates of people killed in Darfur over the past three years range from 80,000 to 400,000, but no one knows and no one will ever know the real figure. More than 2 million people have been displaced, and a further 1.5 million have been affected by the conflict. Real progress has been made over the past month—indeed, over the past three weeks—in ending the conflict. Earlier this month, the Government of Sudan and the largest rebel movement signed the Darfur peace agreement, which is a major achievement. The United Kingdom has supported and will continue to support the peace process in every way that we can.

Lord Alton of Liverpool: My Lords, with as many as 400,000 people dead, 90 per cent of Darfur’s villages razed to the ground, 2 million people now displaced and the killing and rape persisting while we speak, with attacks on humanitarian workers persisting, and World Food Programme rationing reduced to semi-starvation levels, is it not the case that Darfur is tragically still far from being at peace and that for far too many the truce is still a fiction while the continuing agony is all too real? How long will it be before anyone is brought to justice for these atrocities and how long will it be before Tuesday’s Chapter 7 Security Council resolution on sanctions and the deployment of United Nations forces will be implemented?

(HL Hansard, 18th May 2006, cols. 372)


Sudan: Darfur

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty’s Government:

What estimate the United Nations has made of the number of peacekeepers required to maintain peace in Darfur. [HL3887]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Triesman): We welcome the African Union’s (AU) decision at the 12 January Peace and Security Council expressing support in principle to handing over its monitoring mission in Darfur (AMIS) to the UN. The UN Security Council has instructed the UN Secretary-General to report back to the council on the options for such a UN operation. We are discussing with the UN and the AU the possible size, mandate and composition.

(HL Hansard, 16th February 2006, col. 207WA)


Sudan: Darfur

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty’s Government:

What representations they have made to the government of Sudan about bringing to justice those responsible for violence in Darfur. [HL3885]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Triesman): The Government have consistently made clear to the Government of Sudan that those responsible for the terrible crimes committed in Darfur should be brought to justice. The UK sponsored UN Security Council Resolution 1593, referring the situation in Darfur to the International Criminal Court (ICC) on 29 March 2005. The Prosecutor of the ICC began a formal investigation on 6 June 2005. It is for the ICC to consider the evidence and to make decisions regarding the indictment of specific individuals.

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty’s Government:

How many African Union soldiers have now been deployed in Darfur; and what plans are being made to review or extend its mandate when it expires in March. [HL3886]

14 Feb 2006 : Column WA166

Lord Triesman: Over 6,800 African Union (AU) protection force and police are currently deployed to Darfur as part of the AU’s monitoring mission (AMIS). We welcome the AU’s decision at the 12 January Peace and Security Council (PSC) expressing support in principle to handing over AMTS to the UN. The PSC recommended that this decision be approved by AU Foreign Ministers before the end of the current AMIS mandate in March 2006. We regularly discuss AMIS with the AU and its member countries, and are pressing the AU to convene the Foreign Ministers’ meeting as soon as possible. We understand this could be in the first week of March. AMIS’s mandate will need to be further extended even if there is firm agreement that the United Nations should take over the force, as time will be required to prepare for handover.

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty’s Government:

Whether they have received any reports about hostilities between Sudanese and Chadian forces along their common frontier in Darfur; and, if so, what is the nature of those reports. [HL3888]

Lord Triesman: The security situation on the border between Chad and Sudan remains extremely tense, with both Chadian and Sudanese militias operating in the area. We continue to urge restraint by all sides. I raised the situation with the Sudanese Foreign Minister, Dr Lam Akol, during our meeting on 3 February 2006. Dr Akol expressed his Government’s commitment to a peaceful resolution of the situation.

We welcome the signing in Libya of an agreement between Chad and Sudan on 8 February in which the two countries pledged to improve bilateral relations and refrain from supporting rebel militias. Our embassy in Khartoum is in regular contact with the African Union and the UN to monitor the situation.

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty’s Government:

What progress has been made since the passage of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1556 of 30 July 2004 requiring the Government of Sudan to disarm the Janjaweed militia within 30 days. [HL3890]

Lord Triesman: United Nations Security Council Resolution 1556 of 30 July 2004 demanded that the Government of Sudan disarm the Janjaweed militias and requested the Secretary-General to report in 30 days, and monthly thereafter, to the council on the progress or lack thereof. In his report on Darfur of 23 December 2005, the UN Secretary-General noted that,

“the vast majority of armed militias have not been disarmed”.

When my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary and I met the Sudanese Foreign Minister on 3 February 2006, we pressed him on the need for the Government of Sudan to comply fully with all its obligations under UN Security Council resolutions, including disarming the Janjaweed. We will continue to do so.

(HL Hansard, 14th February 2006, cols. 165–166WA)


Sudan: Darfur

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty’s Government:

What are the latest estimates of facilities and displaced people in Darfur. [HL3889]

The Lord President of the Council (Baroness Amos): The UN estimates that there are 1.8 million internally displaced people and 3.4 million dependent on humanitarian assistance in Darfur. The priority is to provide assistance and protection for them, and to find a political solution that will allow people to return home and rebuild their lives.

Recent assessments indicate a major improvement in the nutrition situation in Darfur with malnutrition rates almost half what they were in the previous year. Likewise, the recent World Health Organisation (WHO) Darfur survey showed mortality rates have, in cases, reduced by two-thirds since August 2004. These improvements are due to the massive scale of the humanitarian response.

The UK is the second largest bilateral humanitarian donor in Darfur (after the US), providing over £96 million since September 2003. These funds have meant that hundreds of thousands of vulnerable people have been provided with shelter, food, water and basic healthcare. However, the situation still remains extremely fragile. We are particularly concerned about the impact that the deteriorating security situation is having on humanitarian operations, especially in south and west Darfur. If aid were reduced because of conflict, insecurity or funding shortages, humanitarian indicators would deteriorate very quickly. We are taking every opportunity to call for an improvement in security and to press for a negotiated political agreement in Abuja.

(HL Hansard, 13th February 2006, cols. 137–138WA)


Sudan: Darfur

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty’s Government:

What impact the latest upsurge in violence in Darfur is likely to have on humanitarian operations. [HL1716]

Baroness Amos: The UN estimates that 3.4 million people in Darfur are in need of humanitarian

18 Nov 2005 : Column WA182

assistance. In recent weeks there has been a marked increase in violence perpetrated against civilians and attacks on humanitarian and commercial convoys throughout Darfur. There has also been a significant increase in clashes between the belligerent parties.

Road access for humanitarian agencies in west Darfur has been all but cut by persistent banditry. The UN has positioned air transport in Geneina to meet urgent humanitarian needs and is confident that essential operations can be maintained. In central Darfur, the upsurge in active fighting has seen news waves of localised displacement. The UN is confident that it can meet immediate humanitarian needs with existing resources. Contingency planning for prolonged disruption is under way by the humanitarian agencies.

We have made it consistently clear to all sides that the resumption of violence is unacceptable and that attacks must cease. The AU-mediated Abuja talks are the only prospect for a peaceful settlement of the conflict. We fully support that process, at which a UK observer is present.

(HL Hansard, 18th November 2005, cols. 181–182WA)


Sudan: Darfur

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty’s Government:

Whether the government of Sudan are co-operating with the International Criminal Court in its investigation of the violence in Darfur. [HL1719]

Lord Triesman: United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1593 of 31 March 2005, which referred the situation in Darfur to the International Criminal Court (ICC), urged all states and concerned regional and other international organisations to co-operate fully with the court. In particular, it called on the government of Sudan to cooperate fully with the court. While recognising that states not party to the Rome Statute have no obligation under the statute, the resolution was passed under Chapter VII of the UN Charter and is therefore binding on UN member states.

The ICC Chief Prosecutor has not made any public statement on co-operation between the court and the government of Sudan. The Chief Prosecutor will make his second six-monthly report to the Security Council in December as required under the terms of UNSCR 1593. He can use that opportunity to report any concerns in relation to co-operation between the court and the government of Sudan and other involved states and organisations.

(HL Hansard, 2nd November 2005, col. 36WA)


Sudan: Darfur

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty’s Government:

Whether the proposed complement of 7,700 African Union soldiers will be in place in Darfur by the 22 October deadline; and whether this number of peacekeepers will be sufficient to safeguard the 3.5 million people dependent on humanitarian assistance. [HL1718]

Lord Triesman: The African Union (AU) has deployed a total of 5,581 military and civilian personnel, and 908 civilian police, as part of the AU Mission in Sudan’s (AMIS) current expansion to over 7,700 personnel. Under current planning, the AU expects to deploy this full force size by the end of October, although this date may be delayed due to other commitments in troop contributing countries, especially for civilian police.

We expect there to be a further mission to assess the AU Mission in Sudan in the near future. The mission will examine the effectiveness of the expanded AMIS and will present recommendations for the future.

(HL Hansard, 25th October 2005, col. 181WA)

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty’s Government:

What progress is being made to (a) extend the arms embargo to the whole of Sudan; (b) prevent the use of armoured personnel carriers in Sudan; and (c) bring the perpetrators of the violence in Sudan before the International Criminal Court. [HL1717]

Lord Triesman: The Government are committed to pressing for an improvement in the situation in Sudan and will be seeking discussion in the UN Security Council on a range of further measures. The UK already implements an embargo against the whole of Sudan in line with the EU arms embargo against the country.

Under the terms of the UN arms embargo on Darfur, provision of military equipment, such as armoured personnel carriers (APC), to any of the parties in Darfur is prohibited without obtaining the prior permission of the UN sanctions committee.

24 Oct 2005 : Column WA164

However, as part of the effort to resource the African Union (AU) force effectively, Canada has donated 105 APCs to the UN which are awaiting delivery. With the EU, we are insisting that the government of Sudan expedite their delivery. These will allow the AU force to better carry out their mission in the light of recent attacks upon them.

The International Criminal Court began a formal investigation into the events in Darfur on 6 June. The Court will carry out its investigations into Darfur, as with all other investigations, in an entirely independent capacity. The timing of the indictments, like the names and numbers of those to be investigated or prosecuted, is solely within the prosecutor’s discretion. The chief prosecutor is due to update the Security Council on the status of the investigation in December.

(HL Hansard, 24th October 2005, cols. 163–164WA)


Sudan: Darfur

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty’s Government:

What protest they have made to the government of Sudan following the complaint by Mr Kofi Annan that the estimated 10,000 mainly Sudanese humanitarian aid workers in Darfur face constant harassment and interference. [HL514]

Baroness Amos: My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for International Development raised the issue of harassment of humanitarian aid workers with both the government in Khartoum and with officials in Darfur during his visit to Sudan in June. One case he raised in particular was that of the arrest of the Head of Mission and Darfur Co-ordinator of Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) Holland, following the publication of its report on rape and gender-based violence in Darfur. On 19 June the charges against MSF were formally dropped.

Harassment of humanitarian workers and organisations in Darfur is totally unacceptable. It represents a real threat in agencies ability to deliver life-saving assistance to the people who need it. Her Majesty’s Government will continue to press the Government on this. These matters are also raised through multinational fora such as the regular sub-joint implementation mechanism meetings between donors and the government of Sudan.

The security and humanitarian protocols signed in Abuja reinforce the need for all parties to allow humanitarian operations to go unhindered. The UK, in particular through the FCO/DfID Sudan unit, is pushing all sides to implement these.

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty’s Government:

Whether they will institute a regular system of reporting to both Houses of Parliament of the accounts of African Union monitors of air attacks, beatings, rape and killings in Darfur; and what incidents of this sort were reported in April and May 2005. [HL515]

Baroness Amos: The African Union regularly shares its assessment of the security situation in Darfur with us, but on a confidential basis. Some of the official reports of the African Union (AU) Ceasefire Commission (the arm of the AU mission in Darfur which is responsible for investigating and reporting on breaches of the Humanitarian Ceasefire Agreement) are available on the AU’s website (www.africa–union.org). Unfortunately, this website is not always updated. We regularly press the AU to improve the availability of public information, and will continue to do so. In the mean time, the monthly reports of the UN Secretary-General on Darfur are available on the UN’s website (www.un.org). These include a useful reporting on the security situation, drawing on the AU’s assessment.

The view of the AU and the UN Secretary-General is that the overall level of violence in Darfur this year has been lower than in 2004. Importantly, attacks against civilians, and civilian deaths, have decreased.

Banditry, including cattle looting, harassment of humanitarian workers, isolated attacks on civilians and incidents of rape continued throughout April and May. No large-scale attacks by the parties to the ceasefire agreement—the government of Sudan, the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) or the Justice and

10 Oct 2005 : Column WA84

Equality Movement (JEM)—were reported in April. However on 7 April, an Arab militia attacked the village of Khor Abeche in Southern Darfur, reportedly killing around 17 civilians. There were a number of clashes between the parties in the second half of May, in the run up to the resumption of the Abuja peace talks on 10 June. These clashes mostly took the form of small-scale rebel attacks against convoys of the government forces or police, with the SLA appearing to be the main perpetrator. There were also incidents of fighting between the SLA and the JEM. There have been no reports in recent months of attacks by the government of Sudan’s airforce.

(HL Hansard, 10th October 2005. cols. 82–84WA)


G8: Gleneagles Summit Costs

Lord Alton of Liverpool: My Lords, does the Minister accept that the real cost of Gleneagles will be measured against its effectiveness in dealing with issues such as aid, trade and debt? Will she weigh against these costs the cost in human lives in equatorial Africa and confirm that as many as 400,000 people are now estimated to have died in Darfur? Does she recognise what the Secretary-General of the United Nations said at the weekend that the real test of Gleneagles will be its effectiveness in resolving such situations?

(HL Hansard, 6th July 2005, cols. 631)


Sudan: Darfur

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty’s Government:

Whether the deployment of an international peacekeeping force in Darfur represents an invitation to every jihadist in the region to go there, as stated by Mr Chris Mullin MP, when Minister responsible for Africa, in an interview on Panorama in November 2004. [HL650]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Triesman): The government of Sudan, Khartoum activists, and various tribal groups and community leaders in Darfur have all made clear their opposition to the

28 Jun 2005 : Column WA22

deployment of western forces there. But the parties are, on the whole, co-operating well with the African Union (AU) mission in Darfur. The AU is doing a good job in maintaining and building the confidence of the parties. To this end we are providing almost £32 million to the AU mission. We do not believe there is a need for a NATO peacekeeping force, nor is there any support for this from other African or NATO governments.

(HL Hansard, 28th June 2005, cols. 21–22WA)


Sudan: Darfur

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty’s Government:

What criteria they used to establish that what has taken place in Darfur is not genocide; and in what ways such criteria differed from those used by the United States State Department, and the governments of Canada and Germany. [HL530]

Lord Triesman: There is no doubt that violations of international humanitarian and human rights law have been committed in Darfur. We have consistently made clear that the perpetrators of these terrible crimes must be brought to justice.

The UK applies the definition of genocide given in the International Criminal Court Act 2001. Under the Act, “genocide” is defined by reference to Article 6 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, as certain acts “committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group”. This mirrors the language contained in the 1948 United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, particularly Article 2. The UK, Canada and Germany are party to the Rome Statute and, together with the US, to the Genocide Convention. It is up to individual countries to choose how to interpret and apply these definitions.

The UK did not have sufficient evidence to judge whether the crimes perpetrated in Sudan were undertaken with the intent necessary to constitute genocide.

For this reason, we pressed for the Secretary-General of the United Nations to establish an expert international commission of inquiry (ICI) to investigate reports, of violations of international humanitarian and human rights law in Darfur in 2004, and to determine whether genocide had occurred. The ICI’s report, issued to the Security Council on 31 January 2005, concluded that the government of Sudan (GoS) did not appear to have pursued a policy of genocide in Darfur and that, while individuals may have done so, this was a determination which only a competent court could make. The conclusion that no genocidal policy had been pursued by the GoS in no way detracted from the gravity of the crimes committed, including crimes against humanity and/or war crimes. The UK played a leading role in sponsoring UN Security Council Resolution 1593 (2005) of 31 March, in which the Security Council referred the situation in Darfur to the International Criminal Court (ICC)—as recommended by the ICI. The prosecutor of the ICC announced a formal investigation on 6 June.

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty’s Government:

What is their response to the calls of a group of former Foreign Ministers, including Madeleine Albright, Robin Cook, Lloyd Axworthy and Lamberto Dini, calling for an international peacekeeping force from NATO countries to be deployed in Darfur. [HL562]

Lord Triesman: The Government remain concerned by developments in Darfur and strongly support the African Union’s (AU) mission in Darfur (AMIS). The UN Secretary-General has noted that where the ALT has been deployed it has made a positive impact and ceasefire violations had starkly reduced. The expansion of the AU force from, 3,300 to more than 7,700, will allow better geographical coverage of Darfur, and should improve the security situation. Given this, the government policy is to support AMIS expansion, including through NATO and EU assistance for airlift training and equipment. The UK has announced that it will provide a further £19 million, which will be used primarily to purchase vehicles and equipment and fund (NATO co-ordinated) airlift support. The UK also stands ready to provide military and police experts in support of NATO and EU assistance. We do not believe there is a need for a NATO peacekeeping force, nor is there any support for this from African or NATO governments.

(HL Hansard, 27th June 2005, cols. 9–10WA)


Sudan: Darfur

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty’s Government:

What account they took of genocide in Darfur when they supported the decision of the international community in April 2005, in Oslo, to pledge more than $4 billion in aid and debt relief to Sudan; and whether the meeting of the G8 Finance Ministers in London on 12 June considered the Government of Sudan’s role in Darfur as a factor when including Sudan on the list of countries whose debts could be cancelled in the future. [HL563]

Baroness Amos: This year started with hope of a new beginning for the people of Sudan, with the signing in Nairobi of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) by the government of Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement.

The CPA is a huge achievement and deserves international support to ensure that it is fully implemented. It is clearly the best hope for peace across the whole of Sudan, and we cannot risk this failing. Early and visible dividends are key to consolidating support behind the peace agreement. Donors at the Oslo meeting discussed how they would work together to support the priority areas contained in the Sudan Joint Assessment Mission report, to help the people of Sudan realise their own futures, and achieve the Millennium Development Goals. At the same time they made clear that the situation in Darfur had to be resolved; some (including ourselves) made some or all of their support conditional upon progress there.

The UK remains gravely concerned about the humanitarian and human rights crisis in Darfur. We have committed £90 million to the humanitarian response in Darfur/east Chad since September 2003, and £32 million to support the African Union’s monitoring operation in Darfur. We sponsored UN Security Council Resolution 1593, which referred the situation in Darfur to the International Criminal Court (ICC). The ICC has now launched a formal investigation into these crimes. We are also playing a leading role in supporting the African Union’s efforts to end the conflict in Darfur, in its mediation at the peace talks in Abuja.

We have made clear to the government in Sudan that the full benefits of a peace dividend, including work on debt relief, will not be achieved without peace in Darfur. The UK has stated that it is willing to chair a group of donors to look at the restructuring of Sudan’s external debt. This is however conditional on significant progress by the Government of Sudan in resolving the Darfur conflict.

G8 countries have agreed to complete the process of debt relief for the heavily indebted poor countries (HIPCs) by making available additional development resources for such relief. This relief will provide significant support for countries’ efforts to reach the goals of the Millennium Declaration, while ensuring that the financing capacity of the international financial institutions is not reduced. For International Development Association and African Development Fund debt, 100 per cent stock cancellation will be delivered by relieving post-completion point HIPCs that are on track with their programmes of repayment obligations. Sudan is by definition, a heavily indebted poor country, and will be eligible for some HIPC debt relief when it reaches decision point within the initiative. Only when Sudan has reached completion point, has a proven track record of sound financial management and of using funds for poverty reduction, and has received full HIPC debt relief, will it receive multilateral debt cancellation under the G8 debt agreement. The UK will not take forward work in the international arena on Sudanese debt relief until progress on Darfur is made.

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty’s Government:

What assessment they have made of the 10,000 photographs taken by Mr Brian Steidle, serving with the African Union, of violations of human rights in Darfur and of the nine boxes of statements collected by Antonio Cassese while he led the United Nations Commission to Darfur in late 2004. [HL526]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Triesman): As we have always made clear, serious human rights abuses have taken place in Darfur, and those responsible must be brought to justice. We therefore sponsored Security Council Resolution 1593 (2005), which referred the situation in Darfur to the International Criminal Court (ICC) on 31 March 2005. The ICC prosecutor took possession of the documents collected by the International Commission of Inquiry which had previously recommended this referral on 5 April.

Following preliminary examination of the commission’s documents and other information available to him, the prosecutor, in accordance with his mandate, decided he has sufficient basis to initiate a formal investigation and announced that investigation on 6 June.

The court will carry out its investigations in Darfur, as elsewhere, in an entirely independent capacity. The timing of the indictments, including the names and numbers of those to be investigated or prosecuted, is solely within the prosecutor’s discretion.

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty’s Government:

Whether they have assessed the validity of work undertaken by the Coalition for International Justice, North Western University and Tufts University in the United States that 400,000 people have died in Darfur in the past two years and that 90 per cent of Darfur’s villages have been destroyed. [HL529]

Lord Triesman: We have not assessed the validity of mortality estimates recently presented by the Coalition for International Justice (CIJ). However, the Centre for Research on Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED) questioned the legitimacy of the CIJ study because of its survey design and quantitative methodology. The estimate is based on extrapolating limited data from relatively small areas and groups over the entire population of Darfur and entire period of the crisis, despite the very variable circumstances across Darfur during this time.

Accurate mortality figures for the Darfur crisis are not available. The World Health Organisation is currently undertaking a second crude mortality survey, which will ascertain the effectiveness of humanitarian interventions in Darfur, and where these need to focus. It will only give a snapshot of the situation. We have to accept that we are unlikely ever to get a full picture of deaths from this conflict.

The United Nations International Commission of Inquiry on Darfur was tasked to investigate the human rights abuses in Darfur. During its work the commission conducted extensive interviews in all three Darfur states and studied numerous raids in minute detail. The commission made no attempt to come up with a Darfur-wide death toll, but reported that estimates of the number of damaged or destroyed villages in Darfur were between 700 to over 2,000.

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty’s Government:

Whether they agree with the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights that the “Janjaweed have operated with total impunity and in close co-ordination with the forces of the Government of Sudan”; and [HL561]

What is being done to implement the Security Council resolution of 30 July 2004 to disarm the Janjaweed militia. [HL564]

Lord Triesman: On 7 May 2004 the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights issued a report in which he outlined his concerns that Janjaweed militias were operating with impunity and in close co-ordination with the forces of the Government of Sudan.

United Nations Security Council Resolution 1556, passed on 30 July 2004, demanded that the Government of Sudan disarm the Janjaweed militias and apprehend and bring to justice Janjaweed leaders responsible for violations of human rights and international humanitarian law. We have made clear to the Government that we expect them to tackle the climate of impunity and to comply with this resolution, and all other commitments they have made.

On 31 March 2005, the Security Council also passed Resolution 1593, which we sponsored, referring the situation in Darfur to the International Criminal Court. We are pressing the Government of Sudan to co-operate in full with the court.

Only a political solution to this conflict will create the necessary conditions for long-term peace and a sustainable disarmament process in Darfur. We therefore welcome the resumption, on 10 June, of the Abuja peace talks for Darfur. A UK observer is attending the talks.

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty’s Government:

What assessment they have made of evidence collated by the International Crisis Group that the Government of Sudan are incorporating members of the Janjaweed militia into formal security structures such as the Popular Defence Force, the Border Intelligence Guard, the Popular Police and the Nomadic Police; and [HL527]

Whether they have asked the Government of Sudan to clarify the assertion of Musa Hilal, leader of the Janjaweed militia, that he had been promoted to the position of Brigadier General in the General Security Service of Sudan and that the Government of Sudan direct all military operations and activities by the Janjaweed militia. [HL528]

Lord Triesman: In a report of 23 August 2004, the International Crisis Group provided assessment that officials in the Government of Sudan were integrating members of Janjaweed militias into formal security structures such as the police and the popular defence forces.

We continue to make clear to the government that they must tackle the climate of impunity and bring armed militia groups under control. We co-sponsored UN Security Council Resolution 1556, which demanded that the Government of Sudan disarm the Janjaweed militias and apprehend and bring to justice Janjaweed leaders responsible for violations of human rights and international humanitarian law. My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for International Development (Hilary Benn), raised the importance of improving the confidence of residents of Darfur in the police forces there with the Sudanese First Vice-President during their meeting on 14 June.

Only a political solution to this conflict will create the necessary conditions for long-term peace in Darfur. We therefore welcome the resumption, on 10 June, of the Abuja peace talks for Darfur. A UK observer is attending the talks.

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty’s Government:

What they have done to implement the United Nations Security Council Resolution of 29 March, to freeze the assets and restrict the travel movements of the architects of the genocide in Darfur. [HL512]

Lord Triesman: The Government have fully implemented the obligations in Security Council Resolution 1591 (2005) in the United Kingdom, the Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies. They have made the necessary provisions for the assets freeze and travel ban to be applied to individuals who will be designated by the committee, including individuals who have committed violations of international humanitarian or human rights law or other atrocities.

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty’s Government:

What estimate they have made of when the first indictments will be handed down to the 51 names on the International Criminal Court’s list of alleged perpetrators of war crimes in Darfur. [HL566]

Lord Triesman: Following a preliminary examination, the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court announced, on 6 June, his intention to open a formal investigation into the situation in Darfur.

The court will carry out its investigations in Darfur, as elsewhere, in an entirely independent capacity. The timing of the indictments, like the names and numbers of those to be investigated or prosecuted, is solely within the prosecutor’s discretion.

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty’s Government:

What representations they have made to the Arab League about the killing of African Muslims in Darfur. [HL611]

Lord Triesman: We regularly press other members of the international community, including the Arab League, to do what they can to help find a peaceful solution to the crisis in Darfur. We have encouraged them to support the African Union mediation at the Darfur peace talks in Abuja, and to use their influence with the parties to get them to engage constructively in political dialogue. To this end, we welcome the recent Heads of State Darfur summit in Tripoli, at which Egypt, Libya, Chad, Nigeria and Gabon called for the resumption of peace talks, and secured the commitment of the government of Sudan to attend and engage in good faith. We welcome the resumption, on 10 June, of peace talks in Abuja. A UK representative is present to provide support to the parties.

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty’s Government:

What they are doing to establish and enforce a no-fly zone over Darfur. [HL612]

Lord Triesman: The Government of Sudan (GoS) signed the Abuja Security Protocol on 9 November 2004, which commits them to refrain from all hostile military overflights over Darfur. Under United Nations Security Council Resolution 1591, the African Union (AU) is requested to monitor compliance by the GoS with this commitment. We continue to make clear to both the GoS and the rebels that they must abide fully by the commitments they have made, and the UN Security-Council resolution.

In early February the GoS announced that they would remove their Antonov aircraft from Darfur and refrain from hostile use of aircraft there. The Antonovs appear to have been withdrawn. Although helicopter gunships remain in Darfur, the AU and the UN Secretary-General report that the GoS have not conducted any air attacks since January.

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty’s Government:

What is their estimate of the number of African Union troops required to secure Darfur; and how many there are at present. [HL531]

Lord Triesman: The African Union (AU) led an assessment mission to Darfur in March this year to look at the AU force’s performance. Military experts from the EU, UN, UK, US and Canada participated in this mission. On the recommendations of the assessment team, the AU decided to expand its mission in Darfur to over 7,700 personnel in order to fulfil its current mandate and to provide a secure environment throughout the region. The UK welcomed this decision, and has allocated £19 million to support the expansion. This brings our total support to the AU mission to almost £32 million.

At present, the AU has deployed almost 2,700 of the planned 3,320 staff for its mission. The shortfall is mainly due to delays in identifying and deploying suitable police officers. Our understanding is that approximately 460 police are deployed, out of a mandated 815. Efforts to close the gap continue.

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty’s Government:

What assessment they have made of the statement by Jan Egeland, the United Nations Under-Secretary for Humanitarian Affairs, that 10,000 people will die every month in Darfur if the security situation leads to humanitarian organisations suspending their operations. [HL614]

Lord Triesman: Jan Egeland estimated in March that 10,000 Sudanese civilians were dying each month in Darfur. Estimates of deaths in Darfur vary from 70,000 to 300,000 and above. Accurate figures are not available and even though the World Health Organisation is undertaking a second crude mortality survey, it will give only a snapshot of the situation. We are unlikely ever to get a full and wholly accurate picture of deaths from this conflict.

There are 2.7 million people in need of humanitarian assistance in Darfur and many of these would be put at great risk if humanitarian operations were suspended by any organisation for reasons of insecurity. This is why the Government fully supported the African Union’s (AU) decision to increase its troop numbers from 3,000 to 7,700 and why the Government recently announced a further £19 million in funding to the AU mission in Darfur. This brings the UK’s total funding to the AU to almost £32 million.

My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for International Development (Hilary Benn), reaffirmed to the Government of Sudan during his recent visit on 12 to 14 June that NGOs must be allowed to operate freely and without harassment.

(HL Hansard, 23rd June 2005, cols 196-202WA)


Sudan: Darfur

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty’s Government:

What plans are being developed to repatriate the displaced people of Darfur to their homes and to provide the necessary security for them to live in safety and without fear of molestation. [HL613]

22 Jun 2005 : Column WA194

Lord Triesman: We have made clear to the government of Sudan (GoS) that all returns must be voluntary, and carried out in full accordance with the established international mechanisms.

Improving the security situation is key if those who have been displaced are to return to their homes. We are pressing the GoS to ensure the safety of their civilians and to improve the security situation in Darfur, but the African Union (AU) mission also has a key role to play.

We welcome the planned expansion of the AU mission to over 7,700 personnel and have allocated £19 million in support of this. Where AU troops are deployed, they have helped to create the necessary conditions for some internally displaced persons returns. For example, in Labado and Khor Abeche the AU presence has, according to the UN, enabled 15,000 and 4,500 people respectively to return to their homes. The additional troops will enable the AU to provide greater geographical coverage in Darfur, and a more permanent presence in areas where it is already deployed.

(HL Hansard, 22nd June 2005, cols 193-194WA)


Sudan: Darfur

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty’s Government:

What is their latest estimate of the number of people dependent on food aid in Darfur; how this compares with the number requiring food aid this time last year; and whether sufficient food is in place to enable those who are dependent on food aid to survive the rainy season. [HL510]

Baroness Amos: The World Food Programme’s (WFP) latest report shows that in May this year it reached 1.8 million of its 2.3 million target beneficiaries in Darfur. In June 2004 it reached 650,000 of its 1.2 million target.

The WFP has pre-positioned 30,000 metric tonnes, sufficient to cover three months, in west Darfur in advance of the rainy season. For south and north Darfur—where the impact of the rains on access is generally less severe than in west Darfur—the WFP will continue its delivery of food throughout the rainy season. Supplies are mainly brought in via Port Sudan, though WFP has also recently begun flying food from Libya.

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty’s Government:

What assessment they have made of the level of malnutrition and risks to personal health of the displaced people of Darfur. [HL511]

Baroness Amos: Malnutrition rates vary across Darfur. The latest UN Nutrition in Crisis Situations report published in May 2005 showed average to precarious malnutrition levels in a number of locations: in south Darfur, 15.6 per cent of the assessed population of the Gereida internally displaced people (IDP) camp were found to be suffering from global acute malnutrion (GAM) with 4 per cent suffering severe acute malnutrition (SAM); in Kalma IDP camp, south Darfur, the GAM rate was 9.9 per cent and the SAM rate was 2.6 per cent; in west Darfur across three camps in the Jebel Mara area, the GAM rate was 16.2 per cent and the SAM rate 1.5 per cent GAM rates of 20 per cent or above or SAM rates of 5 per cent or above would denote a very serious situation.

In its latest update on the health situation in Darfur, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said that between 28 May and 3 June there were 66,617 reported cases of illness among the 1.56 million people under its surveillance in Darfur. The biggest causes of illness were acute respiratory tract infection (17 per cent), malaria (6 per cent) and bloody diarrhoea (4 per cent).

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty’s Government:

When they expect to complete the arrangements for the United Kingdom-funded mortality survey in Darfur; and whether they accept the most recent estimate that 500 people are dying each day in Darfur. [HL513]

Baroness Amos: The UK is funding a second World Health Organisation (WHO) mortality survey that is currently being conducted in Darfur. We expect the results will be published by the end of this month.

Very little data are available on mortality rates in Darfur. Estimates from the previous WHO study conducted in August 2004 showed that there had been between 1.5 and 3.3 deaths per 10,000 people per day. This study only surveyed people in accessible internally displaced people (IDPs) camps, and had very little coverage of south Darfur. The new survey is sampling IDPs in camps and settlements, and affected resident populations, and will allow the UN to make more up-to-date estimates.

(HL Hansard, 21st June 2005, cols 161-162WA)


Sudan: Darfur

2.58 pm

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty’s Government:

What assessment they have made of the recent estimate by the Coalition for International Justice that up to 400,000 people may now have died in Darfur in the Sudan.

Baroness Royall of Blaisdon: My Lords, estimates of deaths in Darfur range from 70,000 to 400,000. Whatever the number, it is far too many. The noble Lord, Lord Alton, will be aware that estimates such as those extrapolate what little data there are from different studies on small areas to cover the whole of Darfur. More accurate data are needed.

The UK is funding a second mortality survey by the World Health Organisation. The survey will cover a broader representation of the population in Darfur; it will cover the population inside as well as outside the camps.

Lord Alton of Liverpool: My Lords, I welcome the noble Baroness to her role and thank her for that reply. I recall that only yesterday the ICC referral would have been welcome news to many who have asked that those responsible for the terrible atrocities in Darfur should be brought to justice. Will the Minister also bear in mind the depressing experiences in Bosnia and agree that this should not become a substitute for our implementing outstanding UN Security Council resolutions and, indeed, strengthening the presence of the African Union force and its mandate?

I also draw to the Minister’s attention the continuing defiance of the international community, underlined by the comments of Musa Hilal, leader of the Janjaweed militia, who said that,

“nobody will be able to try me or bring me to justice in any way”.

Will she contrast the impunity that has been enjoyed by the Janjaweed with the arrest last week of Paul Foreman, the head of Médecins Sans Frontières in Khartoum, for

7 Jun 2005 : Column 779

exposing the systematic rape of countless women, the burning of villages and the laying waste of vast areas of Darfur?

(HL Hansard, 7th June 2005, cols 778-779)


Sudan: Darfur

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty’s Government:

What is their assessment of the numbers of (a) fatalities; (b) displaced people; and (c) people dependent on aid in Darfur, Sudan. [HL2000]

Baroness Amos: There are very little data on the number of people who have died in Darfur. The World Health Organisation (WHO) survey on mortality, published on 15 October 2004, estimated that between the beginning of March and end of September cumulative excess deaths were between 35,000 and 70,000. The UN Emergency Response Co-ordinator, Jan Egeland recently suggested that there had been up to 180,000 deaths in Darfur. We understand that this figure is extrapolated from findings of the WHO survey. However, the WHO survey was only of internally displaced people in camps. Though it asked respondents to report deaths during the previous two months, it is not possible from the answers provided to calculate with confidence how many of the deaths reported were due to violence or other causes prior to arrival in the camps.

7 Apr 2005 : Column WA134

DfID recognises the need for more accurate data, and the UK is funding a second crude mortality survey by the World Health Organisation in conjunction with the Sudanese Ministry of Health. We expect results by the end of May. This can, however, give only a snapshot of the situation. We are unlikely ever to get a full picture of deaths from this conflict.

According to the latest UN humanitarian needs profile for Darfur, at 1 March 2005 there were 2.45 million people in Darfur affected by the crisis and in need of humanitarian assistance. Of these, 1.86 million were displaced. There are an additional 200,000 refugees from Darfur across the border in eastern Chad.

(HL Hansard, 7th April 2005, cols 133 – 134 WA)

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty’s Government:

What assessment they have made of the report of Médecins Sans Frontières, The Crushing Burden of Rape. Sexual Violence in Darfur, published on 8 March. [HL1999]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: Such attacks are abhorrent. We have made, and continue to make clear to the government of Sudan that the perpetrators must be brought to justice.

We understand that the African Union (AU) mission is increasingly co-ordinating its patrols to provide protection to women when they leave populated areas in search of food or firewood. Where this is happening we understand the number of reported rapes has decreased significantly and we are encouraging the AU to expand this practice.

The UK has contributed over £66 million towards the Darfur crisis since September 2003, including £500,000 towards the International Rescue Committee’s Darfur programme, and £2.1 million towards Médecins Sans Frontières’ health programme. These both contain components to tackle attacks on women. We have also contributed more than £14 million towards the AU mission to date.

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty’s Government:

What talks they have held with Minni Arkoi, the Secretary General of the Sudanese Liberation Army (SLA), during his visit to London; and how they intend to respond to his request for United Kingdom involvement in peace-keeping in Darfur, Sudan, and for the United Kingdom to act as broker between the SLA and the Khartoum government. [HL2001]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My honourable friend the Minister for Africa at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Chris Mullin) and the UK Special Representative for Sudan met Minni Arkoi Minnawi in London on 22 March. They made it clear to Mr Minnawi that he has responsibilities to ensure that the Sudanese Liberation Movement/Army (SLM/A) abides by its commitments in the N’Djamena ceasefire agreement and the Abuja humanitarian and security protocols. They emphasised that they expect the SLM/A to engage without pre-conditions and at the highest levels at the next round of Darfur peace talks in Abuja. The special representative urged the SLM/A and other Darfur parties to participate in the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement signed in Nairobi on 9 January.

The EU and US are already participating directly in the African Union (AU) mission. We have a UK monitor and a UK planning officer working with the AU. We are also supporting the AU’s monitoring mission, including with financial assistance (more than £14 million) and logistics (over 600 vehicles, as well as maps and ration packs). We are clear that the AU should remain in the lead in monitoring the ceasefire in Darfur, and we will continue to support it in this. The UN is also considering how best it can support the AU in its task, and we will play our part in any recommendations it makes.

A UK observer has attended previous rounds of the Abuja talks to provide support to both the parties and the African Union mediation. We plan to attend the next round, in a similar role.

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty’s Government:

How many African Union soldiers are now garrisoned in western Darfur, Sudan; and whether their numbers and mandate will enable them to enter discussions with the Janjaweed militia and protect the civilian population. [HL2004]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: There are currently more than 2,500 African Union (AU) personnel deployed to Darfur. The current AU mandate requires it to carry out pro-active monitoring and allows it to protect civilians in the immediate vicinity under imminent threat of attack.

An AU-led assessment mission, including representatives from the European Union (EU), US, United Nations, Canada and the UK, has recently returned from Darfur, Khartoum and Addis Ababa, where it examined the work being undertaken by the AU mission and what further support donors could provide. We expect the mission to recommend that the AU focus on getting the current mission deployed and fully operational as quickly as possible, with a view to increasing the force size in due course. To this end, the UK has provided over £14 million and loaned technical expertise to the AU.

(HL Hansard, 6th April 2005, cols 114–116 WA)


Sudan: Darfur

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty’s Government:

How many people are dependent on food aid in Darfur, Sudan; to what percentage of the region aid agencies have access; and what assessment has been made of the plight of people living in areas where there is no presence of international non-governmental organisations. [HL2002]

The Lord President of the Council (Baroness Amos): In February 2005 the World Food Programme (WFP) distributed food aid to 1.6 million beneficiaries from a target of 2 million in Darfur.

Security is currently the main factor limiting the delivery of humanitarian aid in Darfur, but the sheer size of Darfur is also a challenge. At the beginning of March, the UN had access to 88 per cent of the 2.45 million people judged to be in need of humanitarian assistance in Darfur, but we expect access to deteriorate severely in some areas when the rainy season begins in May. The UN is currently pre-positioning food in advance of the rains.

While there has not been a humanitarian needs assessment specifically of areas where international non-governmental organisations are not present, assessments are ongoing across Darfur. For example, on 24 March, a four-day inter-agency assessment to Dar Zagawa in north Darfur was completed—the area had not been accessed since December. Preliminary findings there indicate that coping mechanisms among the local population are incrementally diminishing due to limited access to markets, inaccessibility of normal livestock migration routes and declining wild food stocks. The situation for displaced persons was found to be even worse. The mission recommended general food distribution to all assessed communities, and that further health and education assessments be made. Assessments in other areas will continue over coming days and weeks across Darfur.

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty’s Government:

What were the circumstances that led to the withdrawal of aid agencies and United Nations personnel from areas of western Darfur, Sudan. [HL2003]

Baroness Amos: On three consecutive days during the week of 7 March convoys containing both United Nations (UN) and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) vehicles were stopped and robbed on roads in west Darfur. On the fourth day there was an aborted attempt at a fourth robbery. This led to UN agencies

5 Apr 2005 : Column WA90

and NGOs withdrawing their international staff to the state capital Al Geneina. Agencies are now operating again and we understand there have been no repeats of such robberies.

(HL Hansard, 5th April 2005, cols 89-90WA)


Sudan: Darfur

2.59 p.m.

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty’s Government:

What is their latest estimate of the number of those who have died or been displaced in Darfur, Sudan, following the recent United Nations report.

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean): My Lords, accurate figures are not available, and estimates vary from 70,000 to 300,000 dead. The United Kingdom will fund a mortality survey, but it is unlikely to produce a full and accurate picture. However, we are pleased that the three recent United Nations Security Council resolutions will support the peace process. UNSCR 1590 provides for troops in support of the comprehensive peace agreement, UNSCR 1591 provides for the sanctions against those who impede the peace process, and UNSCR 1593—sponsored by the United Kingdom—deals with the referral of individuals suspected of war crimes to the International Criminal Court. All those United Nations resolutions are positive developments.

Lord Alton of Liverpool: My Lords, I strongly welcome the role that Her Majesty’s Government played in securing the passage of Resolution 1593 in particular, referring those responsible for war crimes to the International Criminal Court. However, the Minister will have seen the report published last week by a House of Commons Select Committee entitled Darfur, Sudan: The responsibility to protect. It was critical, stating that early warnings about the emerging crisis were ignored and that there had been a scandalously ineffective response. She will have also seen its estimates that approximately 300,000 people have now died in Darfur. It states that nearly 2.5 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance, a figure which it suggests could rise to 4 million by the end of the year. Does she believe that the fewer than 2,000 African Union soldiers in Darfur will be sufficient to contain the continuing crisis?

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, I thank the noble Lord for what he said. My right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary worked enormously hard; it was particularly difficult to secure the passage of UNSCR 1593 but, happily, those who were inclined to veto were persuaded to abstain.

Of course I am aware of the report to which the noble Lord refers, but our Department for International Development has worked hard on justice, the security sector, and disarmament and demobilisation. He asks whether there are enough AU troops on the ground. The report of 11 January from Special Representative Pronk said that the African Union was making a difference on the ground and had surpassed expectations. However, as the noble Lord will know, the African Union force is under review. We expect a report from those countries taking part in the review very shortly on ways in which the force can be further strengthened by the UN.

(HL Hansard, 5th April 2005, cols 571-572)

Lord Alton of Liverpool: My Lords, whether the issue is referred to the International Criminal Court or to a local African tribunal, is not the real problem the attitude of the Sudanese Government? Did the noble Baroness note the defiant speech made at the weekend in Darfur at El Fasher by the Sudanese Vice-President, Ali Osman Taha. He said:

“The Government will not accept any official to go to any (legal) organ outside this country”.

Can the Minister confirm that last week in the sealed letter sent to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, more than 50 names were included of officials of the Sudanese Government, local officials or members of the Janjaweed who have been involved in the deaths of 70,000 people, the displacement of 1.7 million others and the razing to the ground of between 700 and 800 villages in Darfur? Now there is the staggering potential of catastrophe for 2.2 million people who are reliant on food aid. The crops have failed yet again and they are now in danger of being literally starved to death.

(HL Hansard, 8th February 2005, cols. 663)


Sudan: Dafur

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty’s Government:

Whether, in formulating their policy on Darfur, Sudan, they are taking into account the findings in the recent report by the AIDS Education Global Information System (AEGIS), Management of the Genocidal Crisis in Sudan, and the latest edition of AEGIS Review. [HL752]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: We read with interest the various reports issued by organisations such as AEGIS on the crisis in Darfur. We use a wide range of material to keep up to date with the situation in Darfur and to help us formulate policy. We do not agree with all of the judgments in the Aegis report and will be responding to it separately.

(HL Hansard, 2nd February 2005, col. 27WA)


Sudan: Darfur

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty’s Government:

In light of the Statement on 12 January to the United Nations Security Council by the senior United Nations envoy to Sudan, Jan Pronk, that “we may move into a period of intense violence unless swift action is taken”, what action they are taking to implement the Security Council Resolution taken under Chapter 7 Powers requiring the disarmament of the Janjaweed by the expiry date in August 2004. [HL753]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: We are greatly concerned by the latest report to the United Nations Security Council on Darfur. As Security Council Resolution 1556 of 30 July makes clear, both the Government of Sudan and the rebels must comply with the requirements placed on them by the Security Council, including ending impunity and preventing human rights violations, or face a range of possible measures, including sanctions. We are discussing, with partners in the Security Council, and in light of developments on the ground, how best to respond.

26 Jan 2005 : Column WA158

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty’s Government:

Whether the mandate given to the African Union serving in Darfur, Sudan is adequate; and what consideration they are giving to the extension and clarification of this mandate. [HL754]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: It is for the African Union’s (AU) Peace and Security Council to decide the mandate of the AU mission in Darfur. We fully supported their decision in October 2004 to increase the size of the mission and to broaden its mandate to include more proactive monitoring and to enable them to protect civilians in the immediate vicinity under imminent threat of attack. We have provided over £14 million in support of the AU mission.

(HL Hansard, 26th January 2005, col. 157–158)


Sudan: Darfur

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty’s Government:

What is the current position regarding the suspension of African Union monitoring flights in Darfur, Sudan, following an attack on one of its helicopters. [HL553]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: Contrary to media reports, the African Union (AU) did not suspend activities in Darfur following an attack on one of its helicopters on 19 December. There were no casualties in the attack and the AU immediately began an investigation into the incident. The AU continues to conduct its duties in Darfur as normal.

We strongly condemn any attacks on peace observers and urge the parties to abide by the humanitarian and security protocols they signed in Abuja on 9 November.

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty’s Government:

What is the current position regarding the threat made by European Union and African Union ambassadors to abandon the Abuja peace talks on Darfur, Sudan. [HL554]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: During the last Abuja round (10–21 December) the African Union mediation, with the support of the international observers, made clear that talks could not progress to political issues while military offensives continued.

17 Jan 2005 : Column WA88

The round closed with an agreement by both sides to cease military activity and withdraw to positions to be agreed with the African Union.

The next round of talks is due to commence in the coming weeks.

(HL Hansard, 17th January 2005, cols. 87–88)


Sudan: Darfur

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty’s Government:

What measures they are taking to respond to the recent call from the United Nations Secretary-General for member states to give greater support to the African Union Mission in Darfur and to address the situation there.

13 Jan 2005 : Column 360

The Lord President of the Council (Baroness Amos): My Lords, the United Kingdom fully supports the African Union’s efforts to resolve the conflict in Darfur. We have allocated over £40 million to support the mission, from which we have provided significant logistical support, including 143 vehicles. We have also seconded a UK military officer to the AU to provide technical support.

Lord Alton of Liverpool: My Lords, does the noble Baroness the Leader of the House agree that, with international focus inevitably now on events in and around the Indian Ocean, and on the signing of the north-south peace accord, we must remain focused on the continuing atrocities in Darfur? Will she confirm the UN estimates that some 70,000 fatalities have occurred there, 1.7 million people are displaced, 2.2 million are now dependent on aid and therefore at great risk should starvation begin to occur, and some 400 villages have been razed to the ground? Did the noble Baroness see the comments of Kofi Annan just four days ago that the situation in Darfur remains horrific? He said:

“the vital African Union Mission deserves greater support”.

He commented that the security situation is deteriorating and an intensification of violence, including government air attacks, has taken place.

Does the noble Baroness therefore agree that the very small number of African Union troops—perhaps she can confirm the actual number, in an area the size of France—is not adequate to deal with the threat? Does she further agree that the need for the imposition of a no-fly zone remains very urgent to stop the rearming of the Janjaweed, which has been responsible for the terrorising of these communities, the fatalities and the wholesale rape and massacre of vast numbers of people?

(HL Hansard, 13th January 2005, cols. 359–360)


Sudan: Darfur

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty’s Government:

What assessment they have made of Amnesty International’s open letter to members of the United Nations Security Council of 6 December about the deteriorating situation in Darfur, Sudan. [HL349]

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean): We share Amnesty International’s grave concern about the deteriorating security situation. The UK Government have been at the forefront of the response to the situation in Darfur. We are pressing all sides, both bilaterally and through the European Union and United Nations (UN), to stop the fighting and abide by the commitments they have made. We are leading supporters of the African Union (AU) and have funded the UN human rights monitors and a number of UN agencies and non-governmental organisations. We are also fully supporting the AU-mediated Darfur peace talks in Abuja.

My honourable friend the Minister for Africa (Chris Mullin) has replied directly to Amnesty International regarding the specific points raised in its letter of 6 December

.

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty’s Government:

What assessment they have made of the report of the United Nations Secretary-General of December 2004 on the situation in Darfur, Sudan; and what progress has been made in the disarming of the Janjaweed militia. [HL350]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The latest report by the UN Secretary-General on Darfur concludes that, with the signing of the Abuja humanitarian and security protocols, some progress was made on the political front, but that this was overshadowed by the deteriorating security situation. It also concludes that the Government of Sudan have made no progress in disarming the Janjaweed militias. We deplore the recent upsurge in violence in Darfur and the resulting negative impact on the delivery of humanitarian assistance and civilian protection. On 6 December, my honourable friend the Minister for Africa made clear to the State Minister for Humanitarian Affairs that the Government of Sudan bore the primary responsibility for security in Darfur and that they must abide by their commitments, particularly the Abuja protocols.

(HL Hansard, 10th January 2005, col. 1WA)


Sudan: Darfur

Lord Alton of Liverpool: asked Her Majesty’s Government:
Whether the percentage of vulnerable persons accessible to non-governmental agencies and aid workers in Darfur, Sudan, has declined in the past four weeks; what number of people are now estimated to have been affected by the conflict in Darfur; and what are the estimated numbers of fatalities and displaced people.[HL351]

Baroness Amos: Insecurity in Darfur continues to hinder access for delivery of humanitarian assistance. In the last four weeks the recent attacks such as those on Tawilah town on 22 November in north Darfur, and the killing on a road north of Nyala on 12 December of two Save the Children (UK) staff in south Darfur, have prompted withdrawals of some international staff from certain areas. This impacts severely on numbers of people in need who can be reached. In the month of November, the World Food Programme delivered food to 1.3 million people in Darfur, which was an increase on the 1.16 million people reached in October.

It is very difficult to establish a figure of the number of fatalities in Darfur. The UK supports the World Health Organisation to monitor the health and nutritional status of the affected population in Darfur, including morbidity and mortality surveys. The most recent survey was carried out in September. It suggested that between 6,000 and 10,000 people are dying each month in Darfur. This assessment will be updated shortly. The UK deplores on-going attacks by both rebels and Arab militia, such as the recent attack on Adwa on 1 December resulting in 150 killed. To date the UN estimates that there are 1.6 million internally displaced in Darfur, with a further 200,000 displaced as refugees in Chad.

(HL Hansard, 21st December 2004, col. 138WA)


Sudan: Darfur

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty’s Government:

What representations they have made to the Government of Sudan about the attacks made by their army on two refugee camps near Nyala in Darfur on 2 November.

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: On 2 and 3 November, government of Sudan forces attempted to relocate the inhabitants of two displaced persons camps in Darfur. This was done with an unacceptable level of force and without the prior consultation required by the memorandum of understanding with the International Organisation for Migration.

16 Nov 2004 : Column WA131

Following the intervention of African Union monitors and the United Nations the relocations were suspended and some displaced persons began returning to the camps the following day.

We have made clear to the Government of Sudan, including through our Ambassador in Khartoum, that we hold them fully responsible for this violation, and have stressed that all relocations of displaced persons must be voluntary and appropriate and carried out in consultation with the international community, as per the agreed Memorandum of Understanding.

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty’s Government:

Whether they have instructed British officials in Sudan to investigate allegations that chemical weapons have been used against civilians in Darfur.

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: We are aware of the article published in September by the German newspaper Die Welt, reporting that chemical weapons had been used in Darfur. The UK Government take all such reports of this nature very seriously. In this case, we have seen no credible evidence to support this particular allegation. The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons raised this matter with the government of Sudan, who categorically rejected the allegations and reaffirmed their commitment to the Convention on the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty’s Government:

What representations they have made to the government of Sudan concerning the evacuation of 88 humanitarian aid workers from West Darfur on 1 November following further developments in the security situation.

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: We are gravely concerned by the security situation in Darfur. As this incident shows, continued ceasefire violations by both the Government of Sudan and the rebel groups has led to increased insecurity and difficulties with humanitarian access. We make regular representations to the Government of Sudan and the rebel groups on the need to abide by the ceasefire agreement. We are also pressing both sides to fully and immediately implement the Humanitarian and Security protocols, which were signed in Abuja on 9 November.

(HL Hansard, 16th November 2004, cols 130-131WA)


Sudan: Darfur

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty’s Government:

What is their latest assessment of the number of people who have died or been displaced in Darfur, Sudan.

The Lord President of the Council (Baroness Amos): My Lords, the UN estimates that 1.45 million people have been displace within Darfur and a further 200,000 have fled to Chad. The World Health Organisation estimates on the basis of surveys that the number of displaced who have died in Darfur from disease, malnutrition and violence since March is between 35,000 and 70,000.

Lord Alton of Liverpool: My Lords, has the Minister had a chance to reflect on the harrowing first-hand accounts of ethnically motivated killings, rape, burnings and lootings that I handed her last week after I returned from Darfur?

Notwithstanding the welcome intervention of the Prime Minister, does she agree that the abject failure of the international community to enforce two chapter seven resolutions, one of which requires the disarming of the Janjaweed militia by the end of August, and the failure to galvanise a calibrated and coherent response to a regime that believes it can act with impunity—such as targeted oil sanctions, an enforced no-fly zone, a clear mandate and logistical support for the African Union presence—are at the heart of the unfolding genocide and human catastrophe in Darfur?

Since we last discussed this matter four weeks ago, a further 20,000 people have died according to the World Health Organisation. What has to happen before the world community acts decisively?

Baroness Amos: My Lords, I have had a chance to look at the report that the noble Lord, Lord Alton, gave me and I thank him for giving me early sight of it. The whole House would want to thank the noble Lord for his work in this area.

However, I cannot agree with the noble Lord’s conclusions. I entirely agree that grave crimes against humanity have been committed in Sudan. The amount of attention that has been given to Sudan by this Government, the United States and the UN is an indication of the seriousness with which we view the unfolding crisis there.

The noble Lord knows that the UN Secretary-General has established a commission to look at whether or not the crisis in Darfur should be labelled a genocide. But I repeat what I said before in this House: the labelling makes no difference to the action that is being taken by the UK Government. We are the second largest bilateral donor, we have been engaged in Sudan over many years, we have worked with the Sudanese and those in the south to bring long-term peace to Sudan and we have worked with the United Nations and the AU to ensure that what the Sudanese have committed to is put in place so that the security environment is such that the aid agencies can effectively operate in Darfur.

(HL Hansard, 18th October 2004, cols 523-524)

Lord Alton of Liverpool: My Lords, given that it has now been three months since the United Nations said that this is the world’s greatest humanitarian disaster, and that in August alone, it was said on Monday, 10,000 people died in Darfur, making a total of 50,000 in total so far, can the noble Baroness tell us what has to happen before we follow the United States in declaring this to be genocide? To do so would lay a duty on us to take preventive action and to punish those responsible under Article 8 of the genocide convention. That is why Colin Powell chose that word at the weekend and why we should do likewise.

(HL Hansard, 15th October, col 1174)

Lord Alton of Liverpool: My Lords, given that the Machakos peace accord relies on reconstruction of many parts of Sudan, including southern Sudan, which I visited, will the Minister confirm that the Question on the Order Paper, calling for aid to be switched from other parts of Sudan to Darfur, is not the Government’s policy and that the overall amount of aid that will be given to Sudan will not change? Can she also say something about the exodus of people from Darfur into Chad and the perilous conditions that they are now in?

(HL Hansard, 13th October, col 1125 )


Sudan: Darfur

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty’s Government:

What information they have on the numbers of dead and displaced in Darfur and the number of refugees in Chad; what help is being provided by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees; and whether they intend to increase the humanitarian response. [HL2880]

Baroness Amos: The Government are gravely concerned about the situation in Darfur. It is very difficult to establish the numbers of people who have died in Darfur, as access to the region is very limited. However, the UN estimates that there have been

16 Jun 2004 : Column WA72

approximately 10,000 deaths and over 1 million displaced people within Darfur, and approximately 120,000 refugees in Chad.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is providing assistance to refugees in Chad. So far it has established six camps in Chad, where 68,000 refugees are living, and has provided essential non-food items such as tents, plastic sheeting and blankets. It is also helping the refugees encamped at the boarder. The UK has given UNHCR £2 million to support this work in Chad.

The UK is heavily engaged in the humanitarian response to this crisis. DfID is the second largest donor after the US and so far we have committed over £16.5 million to agencies working in Darfur and eastern Chad. A breakdown of these commitments is given below. In addition, DfID has seconded four humanitarian officers to support the response of Office for the Co-ordination for Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) to the crisis in Darfur and is seconding an additional three for the UN joint logistics centre. We are also paying for a despatch of non-food items (22,500 blankets and 15,000 plastic sheets) for distribution by humanitarian agencies. DfID is lobbying other donors to increase their contribution to the humanitarian response and will keep our level of assistance under continuous review.

(HL Hansard, 16th June 2004, cols 71-72WA)


Sudan: Darfur

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty’s Government:

What weight they attach to the identification by the United Nations of Darfur as “the world’s worst humanitarian crisis”; and whether they will set out their policy in relation to human rights violations by the Janjaweed militia in this province of Sudan. [HL2858]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The Government are fully seized of the seriousness of the situation and the Department for International Development has committed over £16.5 million in response to the crisis.

Our priority has been to stop the fighting, so we are urging the parties to ensure their full compliance with the 8 April ceasefire agreement. For the Sudanese Government, this includes neutralising the Janjaweed. My right honourable friends, the Foreign Secretary and the Secretary of State for International Development, and my honourable friend the Minister for Africa (Chris Mullin), made clear to the Sudanese Foreign Minister when he visited London on 11 May that the Sudanese Government needed to act now to rein in the Janjaweed. Quick deployment of the African Union-led ceasefire monitoring mechanism is also key, as we expect it to have a positive impact on the security situation and in particular the protection of civilians. Should the Sudanese Government fail to take these steps, we will need to consider with all partners what further pressure can be brought to bear.

We, and our EU partners, have made clear that all alleged attacks should be thoroughly investigated and the perpetrators brought to justice.

(HL Hansard, 26th May 2004, col 142WA)


Sudan: Darfur

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty’s Government:

What assessment they have made of the allegation by Human Rights Watch that the Government of Sudan are responsible for ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity in Darfur.

Baroness Crawley: My Lords, we have seen the Human Rights Watch report and that of the UN which was presented to the Security Council on 7 May. The UN has identified disturbing patterns of human rights violations by the Sudanese Government and the Janjaweed militia which may constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity. The report makes no conclusion as to ethnic cleansing, but notes that attacks by the Government and the Janjaweed appear to have been largely ethnically based.

Lord Alton of Liverpool: My Lords, given what the Minister has just said, the description used by the United Nations of Darfur being the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, and the Swedish Government’s description of what is happening in Darfur—where there are mass executions, the burning of villages and the destruction of food supplies—as genocide, when will Her Majesty’s Government raise this issue by way of resolution in the United Nations Security Council in an endeavour to bring together an international campaign to hold the Sudanese Government to account? What has to happen to change the passive role we have taken so far of merely monitoring the situation? Are we not in grave danger of making the same mistakes that we made at the time of the genocide in Rwanda?

Baroness Crawley: My Lords, I cannot agree that we have been passive. We have been seriously engaged in the crisis in Darfur—which, I agree, is absolutely dire—from its start. We are extremely concerned. We have lobbied at the highest level in Khartoum and we are in almost daily contact with the Government of Sudan and the Darfur groups. As the noble Lord knows, Jack Straw, Hilary Benn and Chris Mullin made clear the seriousness of our concerns when they met the Sudanese Foreign Minister on 11 May. Our priority all along has been first to achieve a ceasefire, and the noble Lord will know that there is now a ceasefire that has been broadly holding—

20 May 2004 : Column 877

I go no further than that—since 8 April. We must now ensure that the African Union deploys the monitoring commission to oversee that ceasefire.

(HL Hansard, 20th May 2004, cols 876-877WA)

Lord Alton of Liverpool: My Lords, does the Minister recognise that the situation in Darfur, in western Sudan, has deteriorated particularly in the past two weeks? Has she seen Amnesty International’s call that the Machakos protocol should be extended to cover Darfur, and that the situation should be monitored by the international human rights teams that both sides signed up to? Does she agree that Machakos still represents the best way forward in resolving the conflict?

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, I am aware of Amnesty’s call for an international commission of inquiry into what is happening in Darfur. The situation there remains complex, with unresolved inter-Arab disputes and Arab-African ethnic clashes. We share those concerns. Our embassy in Khartoum and the UK special representative for the Sudan are discussing the matter with the Government of Sudan and others concerned.

The noble Lord, Lord Alton of Liverpool, may be pleased to note that the EU heads of mission will raise Darfur in their meeting with Dr Mutrif, which is

22 May 2003 : Column 933

taking place today in the Sudanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs. We have recognised the urgency of the situation and are taking the issue up today.

(HL Hansard, 22nd May 2003, cols 932-933)