House of Lords Debate on Sudan – Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity In Darfur and South Kordofan

Sudan and the Republic of South Sudan

Question for Short Debate: November 11th 2013

The casualties of genocide and crimes against humanity in Sudan

The casualties of genocide and crimes against humanity in Sudan

Map of Darfur and South Kordofan

Map of Darfur and South Kordofan

4 pm

Asked by

Baroness Cox

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the situation in Sudan, and the implications for citizens of the Republic of South Sudan.

Baroness Cox (CB):

My Lords, I am very grateful to every noble Lord contributing to the debate as the grave situation in Sudan and South Sudan is largely off the radar screen of the media and a forgotten crisis.

The republic of Sudan is still in the grip of President al-Bashir, who continues to perpetrate crimes for which he was indicted by the International Criminal Court. He has declared his intention to turn Sudan into a “unified, Arabic, Islamic nation” and is putting it into practice with an attempted ethnic and religious cleansing of the predominantly African peoples in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile state.

I have visited these states and seen the horrendous suffering inflicted by ruthless aerial bombardment and attacks by long-range missiles on civilians and targets such as schools, clinics and markets. Half a million civilians are hiding in caves with deadly snakes, in river banks or under trees. A quarter of a million have fled into exile in overcrowded camps in South Sudan or Ethiopia. With constant aerial bombardment, people cannot plant or harvest crops and are scavenging for roots and leaves—anything to quell the pangs of hunger. Many hundreds have died of starvation or malnutrition-related illnesses.

We visited a village in Blue Nile state where 450 people had already died of starvation. The remnant had fled their homes because they had been bombed recently. We saw the fresh bomb craters. We followed the sound of voices and found survivors hiding under the trees.

My small NGO, Humanitarian Aid Relief Trust, works with courageous partners who risk their lives to take life-saving aid to victims of oppression trapped behind closed borders. We managed to raise funds for food aid in Blue Nile and the money reached these people, enabling them to survive. Poignantly grateful, they said that they now had food and would not have to flee into exile to refugee camps in South Sudan. They said:

“We prefer to stay in our own land, even if we die from bombs. Now we have food, we don’t have to flee from our own homes”.

The people in these states are in desperate need of food and medical aid. SPLM-N has agreed to allow access to international aid organisations, but the regime in Khartoum continues to deny this. What more can Her Majesty’s Government do to put pressure on Khartoum to stop this genocide and allow access for life-saving food and medical supplies? How much longer will the international community allow Khartoum to continue its brutal policies with impunity?

In Khartoum itself, the Government have been ruthlessly suppressing legitimate protest and freedom of speech. Journalists have been arrested and reputable NGOs have been expelled. Therefore, brutality has gone largely unreported. More than 200 protesters were killed by security forces and, in some cases, relatives were forced to sign forged death certificates reporting that their relatives had died from natural causes instead of live munitions.

Turning briefly to the problems of Abyei, earlier this year the Ngok Dinka paramount chief was murdered by Khartoum’s forces while travelling with UN officials—again with impunity. Having given up on the referendum promised by the African Union, the Ngok Dinka conducted their own referendum in spite of intimidation and boycott by the Khartoum Government, which attempted to bomb bridges to prevent people from returning home to vote. Despite these attempts to sabotage the referendum, it took place with an overwhelming mandate for unification with South Sudan.

The republic of South Sudan, just two years after achieving independence, faces many inevitable problems. As president Salva Kiir said at the time of the birth of a new nation, his people were not rebuilding: there had been nothing left to rebuild. Many problems need to be addressed urgently, including provision of essential services such as immunisation—a critical issue reflected in the return of polio, which had been virtually eradicated.

Of course, there have been serious and well reported problems including corruption and inefficiency. The radical changes in government were undertaken to address some of these issues. However, the situation is clearly not helped by the aggressive and subversive policies of the Government in Khartoum, including exacerbation of intertribal conflicts, especially in Jonglei region. There is evidence that Iran-made, Sudan-origin weapons and ammunition have been made available to David Yau Yau’s and other insurgent forces.

Now, there are very disturbing reports of a massive Sudanese military build-up with sophisticated equipment, including strike aircraft, helicopter gunships, tanks and heavy artillery, in the southern parts of Sudan, particularly in the El Obeid complex and along the border with South Sudan, leading to fears that this is preparation for a new, large-scale dry season offensive that might escalate into a major clash with South Sudan over Abyei.

The Government of Sudan’s continuing aerial bombardment of their own people has forced a quarter of a million to flee into refugee camps in South Sudan and many thousands to flee from Abyei, where the local Ngok Dinka have been subjected to killings, torture and loss of homes and property. Thousands of those poured into Bahr el Ghazal, where they faced hunger and homelessness. Many died.

The suffering inflicted on the innocent civilians in these lands has been allowed to continue for far too long. Again and again, I and many others have urged Her Majesty’s Government to initiate action to end the impunity with which al-Bashir and his Government continue to kill their own people. Again and again, we receive the same answer: “We must continue to talk to Khartoum”. But Khartoum continues to kill while it talks, and has been doing so for more than 20 years. Alternatively, we are told that it is for the UN to act, in the knowledge that it will be highly improbable to attain consensus to do anything effective. This is not good enough. The UK has a special responsibility as one of the three nations mandated to support the implementation of the comprehensive peace agreement.

Therefore, I ask the Minister—again—if Her Majesty’s Government will consider the imposition of targeted sanctions on the Government of Sudan, such as denial of visas, which would at least end the culture of impunity. People in Sudan and South Sudan frequently say to me: “The British Government intervened in Libya, where the suffering was nowhere on the same scale as here. Why do they not intervene to help us? Is it because we are black and African?”. They fear we are being racist. Can the Minister advise me on how to answer my Sudanese friends?

I hope that the Minister is not going to imply moral equivalence between the Governments of Sudan and South Sudan. We all recognise the widely reported fallibilities of the leaders of South Sudan. But the Government of South Sudan do not attack and kill their own people, whereas the Government of Sudan continue to engage in genocidal warfare against their own people in Darfur and the southern states.

I conclude with two requests, reflecting the passionate wishes of the citizens of Sudan and South Sudan. First, local people are pleading for the African Union or UN to send fact-finding missions to investigate and report on the situation in the Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile, and to Khartoum to investigate human rights abuses there.

Secondly, will Her Majesty’s Government engage constructively with democratic opposition parties in Sudan? During the Cold War, western nations helped opposition groups behind the Iron Curtain, both to resist totalitarian oppression and to prepare for the day when freedom and democracy would come. There are respected opposition parties in Sudan that are working to promote human rights and develop the essentials of civil society. Will Her Majesty’s Government consider some support for democratic initiatives; for example, those promoted by the opposition movement led by Yasir Arman and Malik Agar, who have demonstrated genuine democratic political leadership? Malik Agar was the democratically elected Governor of Blue Nile State before he was ruthlessly deposed by al-Bashir. Any analysis of the writings and policies of these opposition leaders demonstrates their genuine commitment to democratic reform.

I hope that the peoples of Sudan and South Sudan who will read this debate will be reassured that, at last, Her Majesty’s Government will take a lead in calling the Government of Sudan to account and in promoting initiatives to bring justice and genuine peace to all the citizens of these two nations, who currently see the United Kingdom apparently condoning oppression instead of fulfilling our historic and contemporary obligation to call a halt to aggression, bring perpetrators to account and promote justice for all the peoples of Sudan and South Sudan.

4.08 pm

Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead (Lab):

My Lords, first, I pay tribute to the noble Baroness, Lady Cox, for her commitment and dedication to the people of Sudan and South Sudan, for initiating this debate and for her excellent speech, which covered all the ground that I think we need to hear.

Ten years ago, few of us imagined we would still be discussing the suffering of the people of Sudan. Yet the misery of Darfur has once again intensified, Khartoum’s campaign of aerial bombardment and systematic ethnic cleansing has spread to Blue Nile and South Kordofan, and after last week’s referendum it is clear that the permanent residents of Abyei wish to be free of a regime that is hostile to their very existence.

Despite all that, the international community has chosen to focus on the low-level conflict that rumbles on between Sudan and South Sudan. That has always been the intention of the Sudanese Government. They know that the world lacks the knowledge and the vigilance needed to see what Bashir is up to in Sudan. There is now no UN special representative after the departure of Robin Gwynn, and the capacity of the FCO’s Sudan unit has been diminished by the exit of staff who have not been replaced. Also, as the excellent Rosalind Marsden departs from her EU role, her replacement, Alexander Rondos, is expected to take on responsibility for the whole of the Horn of Africa. The message that all that conveys to those in power in Khartoum is that the world community is unable or unwilling to focus on Sudan while Syria and Somalia preoccupy security interest. The need for concerted international action to deal with the crisis continues, but international engagement shrinks.

For years, there have been calls for Khartoum to give unhindered humanitarian access to the starving and displaced people sheltering from the Sudanese bombing raids in Blue Nile and South Kordofan. Khartoum knows that it can carry on killing its own citizens with impunity because there is absolutely no response other than media statements and ministerial condemnation. For years, we have expressed concern about Khartoum’s brutal repression of free speech, the disappearance and torture of intellectuals and the sexual abuse of thousands of young women guilty of no greater sin than wanting to go to school or to college.

Symptomatic of the failure to grasp the reality on the ground has been the dogged attempt to impose the Doha peace agreement on Darfur. Officials continue to negotiate debt relief with the very governing regime whose leaders have been indicted on counts of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity by the ICC. Meanwhile, assistance is given to British trade missions and British links when we should be warning British companies that Sudan is rated among the worst in the world for corruption, high inflation, opaque banking and dubious overseas payment systems. In addition, DfID still channels aid through a Government run by those indicted war criminals, surely knowing that it reaches only projects and people acceptable to them.

We should be turning the tap off and challenging Khartoum on every occasion when an aid agency travel permit is withheld, an aid shipment delayed due to some fatuous new regulation, a new restriction is invented to stop humanitarian aid reaching needy people or a patrol of peacekeepers is attacked or intimidated by the regime or its proxies.

Can the Minister comment on an analysis that has suggested that our security services and Washington’s apparently count as their partners in the war on terror this regime that has such a terrible, criminal reputation? Does he agree that in view of the evidence against the current regime in Sudan, current debt relief negotiations should immediately be cancelled until such time as the regime, first, abides by its multiple promises under the CPA, and secondly, stops the aerial bombardment of its civilians and allows unfettered access for international humanitarian aid groups in areas of Sudanese aggression? Anything less will, tragically, guarantee that we will be debating the misery of Sudanese suffering in another 10 years.

4.13 pm

Lord Avebury (LD):

My Lords, as the noble Baroness, Lady Cox and Lady Kinnock, pointed out, Sudan is governed by an alleged war criminal charged at the International Criminal Court on five counts of crimes against humanity, two of war crimes and three of genocide. He and the Sudanese armed forces, of which he is supreme commander, continue to commit war crimes in Darfur, South Kordofan and Blue Nile. The Satellite Sentinel project reported last week on the repositioning of SAF military units threatening new attacks on the civilian populations of Abeyi and South Kordofan, which has been subjected to more than two years of relentless bombardment.

Might the UN ask member states with satellites that pass over the conflict areas in Sudan to make their own images and analyses available to the Security Council to reinforce the excellent work being done by the Satellite Sentinel Project?

Has my noble friend seen the Rapid Food Security and Nutrition assessment published by the Enough project on South Kordofan? It concludes that the bombardment of civilians, together with the bar on international humanitarian aid has resulted in severe malnutrition and dire food security outlooks. The authors say that the condition of refugees from Blue Nile state indicates that the conditions there may be comparable with those in South Kordofan. These are further war crimes and the Minister may want to say something about the possibility of further indictments at the ICC.

Another group of victims in a desperate state are the 40,000 South Sudanese who were left behind in Khartoum at the time of independence three years ago. Their camp was flooded and latrines are overflowing, spreading disease to these homeless and stateless people, weakened by malnutrition. The UN Central Emergency Response Fund has allocated $5.5 million for emergency shelter, healthcare, education and public health initiatives for the victims of flooding, including the South Sudanese, but for the latter it is a short-term solution only. The International Organisation for Migration has a plan to airlift 20,000 of the most vulnerable to South Sudan at a cost of $20 million. Can this plan be expanded so that the IOM repatriated all the people to their homeland with the help of donors such as the UN Central Emergency Response Fund?

Meanwhile, UNHCR is already having to cope with 220,000 refugees in South Sudan and another 40,000 in Ethiopia. Can my noble friend say what the budget for these operations in 2013 is and whether it is being met? These people were mostly bombed out of their homes in South Kordofan and Blue Nile and their plight is the direct result of Bashir’s military campaigns against civilians. Now the ground attack is being reinforced by the acquisition of Sukhoi Su-25 aircraft and Mi-24 ground attack helicopters. My noble friend says that these breaches of the UN sanctions will be dealt with by the panel of experts’ report in January 2014, but surely where there is credible evidence, such as we have from Radio Dubanga—a reliable witness in the past—and from the Satellite Sentinel project already mentioned, the Security Council should take prompt action to call Khartoum to account over its breaches of its international obligations.

At the same time, the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights should investigate the wave of extrajudicial killings and arbitrary detentions as proposed by 11 international and African organisations last week. At least 170 people have been killed and more than 800 detained following widespread protests against the ending of fuel subsidies. Newspapers and broadcasters have been shut down, editors have been told what they are to say about the protests and the head of the Sudanese Doctors’ Union was detained when he spoke on BBC Arabic about the number of casualties admitted to his hospital. The UN rapporteur on extrajudicial executions and the working party on arbitrary detention should collect evidence and report on those events, preferably after visiting Sudan, but in the absence of an invitation, based on witness statements collected in response to a public appeal. I know that that is not the normal method of working by UN special procedures, but their hesitant approach accounts for their lack of effectiveness in stopping these human rights abuses.

How can the international community secure an improvement in Khartoum’s behaviour? The IMF persuaded the regime to cancel fuel subsidies in an attempt to control its rocketing external debt, scheduled to reach $46 billion this year. But the US special envoy to South Sudan and Sudan, Donald Booth, said last month that Khartoum is spending the same on military operations in Darfur, South Kordofan and Blue Nile as it did on the fuel subsidies. If the IMF made the ending of these conflicts and of purchases of sophisticated foreign military equipment a condition of debt relief, there would be a double benefit to the Sudanese economy and to the hundreds of thousands of victims of Khartoum’s aggression.

4.19 pm

Lord Alton of Liverpool (CB):

My Lords, I thank my noble friend Lady Cox for once again focusing our attention on the suffering peoples of Sudan. I begin by expressing sadness and some shock that, despite all the debates and all the attempts to create a climate for peaceful development, the suffering in that war-torn country continues unabated. My first visit to South Sudan was during the civil war, which claimed 2 million lives, and, in 2004, I went to Darfur and saw first hand a conflict which had claimed between 200,000 and 300,000 lives. While the world looked on, 90% of Darfur’s villages were razed to the ground. At the time, I published a report entitled, If This Isn’t Genocide, What Is? Throughout 2011 and 2012, I tabled questions and spoke in your Lordships’ House about the new genocide unravelling, as we have heard, in South Kordofan and Blue Nile, and which was described by Dr Mukesh Kapila, a former high-ranking British and United Nations official, as,

“the second genocide of the 21st century”— Darfur being the first.

Those who unleashed this torrent of unconscionable violence on their own people are undoubtedly mass murderers and fugitives from justice, having been indicted by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity. In South Kordofan and Blue Nile, more than 1 million are now displaced, and the perpetrators are attempting to repeat what happened in Darfur, but this time by closing borders and refusing access, a genocide without witnesses.

Two years ago, Ministers told me that they were urgently seeking access to the affected areas:

“Reports of such atrocities will be investigated and, if they prove true, those responsible will need to be brought to account”.—[Official Report, 21/6/11; col. WA 294.]

Three months later, Ministers said that,

“we continue … to seek urgent access to those most affected by the conflict”.—[Official Report, 9/11/11; col. WA 66.]

However, we have lamentably failed to do either, failing both systematically to collect evidence from fleeing refugees and to gain access to the areas on which bombs have been raining down. I hope that the Minister will update us on both of those questions.

Yesterday I attended a briefing of the Associate Parliamentary Group for the Republic of Sudan and South Sudan, of which I am an officer, as are the noble Baronesses, Lady Kinnock and Lady Cox. What I heard did not just leave me saddened and shocked, it also left me angry.

We heard that in Darfur, where 2.3 million people are already displaced, is that “another 350,000 people have been displaced since January” and “1.3 million people are now in temporary camps”; that “aerial bombardment is a regular occurrence”; that “there is a climate of fear and terrorisation” and “a rapid downward trend in security”; and that “the situation is getting worse.” We heard that there may be another 50,000 people displaced in Adela but no one, including a UNAMID force of more than 20,000 personnel, has access, so no one really knows. For INGOs, the situation is fraught with danger following the killing of two of World Vision’s staff in July. There is now virtually no humanitarian access to areas that are not held by the Government.

Yesterday we were told that it is five years since DfID officials have been able to get beyond the state capitals in Darfur to visit projects run by NGOs. I hope that we will hear from the Minister that our commitment to Darfur and the rest of Sudan remains a priority for the UK, that DfID staff are fully informed of the situation, and that we are finally getting to grips with the fact that, as the noble Baroness, Lady Kinnock, said, the Doha document for peace in Darfur is on its last legs. I hope that the Minister will tell us when we last raised the Darfur and the situation in South Kordofan in the Security Council. The Security Council resolutions banning military flights over Darfur are, we heard yesterday, regularly being broken and those who issue their genocidal orders do so with total impunity.

As I prepared for today’s debate, it was with a genuine sense of sadness. It is more than 10 years ago that, on the eve of a breakthrough in negotiations between the Government of Sudan and SPLA rebels, I welcomed the new atmosphere of hope, but also warned that a ceasefire would be no guarantee of democracy or justice for all. More than 10 years later, it is clear that the CPA that followed has failed to bring change, democracy, or justice to the Sudanese peoples of Sudan or South Sudan. That remains today a distant dream in many of those places. I also feel shock because, despite the ongoing and mounting tragedy of a further decade of war, the attention of the world appears to have turned away from the region.

It is not only Darfur and South Kordofan; consider for a moment the peoples of central and northern Sudan, who flocked to the streets in September of this year and were brutally massacred by the Government of Sudan’s security services. More than 200 protesters were shot dead. The awfulness speaks for itself. Consider also the situation in Jonglei, where it is thought that militias loyal to the Government in Khartoum have also been trying to destabilise the situation in the South.

More than 10 years ago, I said to the House that Sudan’s modern history is littered with temporary peace agreements which were eventually broken. The CPA has been broken for the people of South Kordofan and Blue Nile, and it has been broken for the people of Abyei. The various Darfur peace processes were flawed and have not been honoured. The eastern Sudan peace agreement does not work for the eastern Sudanese.

It is past time to think strategically. Are we prepared simply to sit back and watch protestors be killed on the streets of Khartoum, or will we get behind calls for fundamental change in Sudan? What is Her Majesty’s Government doing to help the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel on Sudan? The panel is tasked with mediating Sudan’s internal conflicts and its conflict with South Sudan, but can it really have the necessary capacity required for all the immense tasks which it has been given?

Finally, I wonder if the Minister has seen the report, “Persecuted and Forgotten”, launched by the noble Lord, Lord Williams of Oystermouth, just two weeks ago on behalf of Aid to the Church in Need http://www.acnuk.org/persecuted-and-forgotten-our-religious-freedom-report   The report details the specific persecution of Christians in many parts of the Republic of the Sudan. This is a really troubling phenomenon which is now occurring on a systematic basis. I look forward to the Minister’s reply on all of these deeply troubling questions..

4.26 pm

The Lord Bishop of Guildford:

My Lords, I completely endorse what has been said so far in this discussion. I want to raise a rather different point, but equally I want to express my distress—and, indeed, my shared anger—about the humanitarian, agrarian and political disaster about which we have been speaking.

My rather different point is a question about the implications of further destabilisation of Sudan for the country’s international neighbours. I think that that is an important point. I visit Nigeria regularly, and I am due to fly out to Abuja on Sunday. Four years ago, I was able to go to the province of Maiduguri up in the north-east. I cannot go there now, at the moment anyway, because of the political situation. Maiduguri is a long, long way from Sudan—many miles away. Nevertheless, I believe that there is a connection.

When I was there four years ago I visited some of the townships on Lake Chad itself, and was asked by a small Christian community to go on the lake in a little fishing boat with an outboard motor. I heard of the troubles and the difficulties there—not least the difficult political jurisdictions around Lake Chad, on which I will not elaborate—and of the problem of a receding lake and what that will do to those communities. When I got back I was told that the relationship between the small minority Christian communities in one of those townships and the majority Muslim population was very good until people came from Sudan through Chad, over Lake Chad. Then the trouble started.

There is a real question about the escalation of ethnic and religious violence, and its spread from east Africa to west Africa. That is anecdotal, but my intuition is that it is probably right, although at the moment in relatively small scale. The noble Baroness, Lady Cox, could say more about that, as she is very aware of the situation in Nigeria. I therefore ask the Minister perhaps to touch on the risk of a more general destabilisation of east and west Africa spreading from Sudan, as the situation there continues seriously to deteriorate.

4.28 pm

Lord Hussain (LD):

My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Cox, for initiating this debate. Her hard work in that region is always appreciated by the House, and by me as well. I have had the opportunity to visit both South Sudan and Sudan in the past year or two, but what I am going to say today is largely not part of my findings or experience.

Many of us around the world thought that the conflict in Sudan would be resolved once the partition of Sudan took place and South Sudan became an independent country. Unfortunately, even after two years of South Sudan’s independence, the conflict does not seem to be coming to an end. There are many reasons for that. I am glad that the African Union is taking more interest in helping to resolve the outstanding issues between Khartoum and Juba, and the presidents of both countries have met and are talking to each other, which is a good sign. Sitting around and resolving issues by negotiation rather than by taking up arms is good.

However, today I want to concentrate on something that is not helping the population and that is the role of the new country’s armed forces, which have not yet adapted to their new role and are still acting very much like a militant organisation. According to the latest report of Human Rights Watch, dated September 2013, since December 2012 the Sudan People’s Liberation Army—the SPLA, South Sudan’s army—locked in conflict with the ethnic Murle rebels from the South Sudan Democratic Movement, has committed serious violations of international humanitarian and human rights law. SPLA soldiers have unlawfully killed at least 96 people, mostly civilians, from the Murle ethnic group during the conflict, and they have engaged in the widespread looting of homes, clinics, schools and churches. The abuses by SPLA soldiers have had a devastating and potentially long-lasting impact on this marginalised minority ethnic group from Pibor county and have caused widespread fear and displacement, contributing to a strongly held perception of persecution among the Murle civilian population.

The abuses have taken place against a background of ethnic conflict. Dinka Bor, Lou Nuer and Murle ethnic groups, all in Jonglei State, have been locked in a cycle of cattle-raiding attacks and increasingly brutal revenge attacks for several years. The rebellion and the SPLA counter-offensive have further aggravated pre-existing ethnic tensions in the area, which, in the case of anti-Murle sentiments, may have played into the extent of the abuses and slow government response. The potential for further grave violations and violence is very high, in part because the SPLA, an army still in transition, faces significant command, control and discipline challenges and also because ethnic tensions are so high in Jonglei, especially anti-Murle sentiment.

Inter-ethnic violence between the Lou Nuer, Dinka and Murle communities has killed thousands of people in recent years. The Government of South Sudan have failed to prevent this violence, despite frequent warnings of impending attacks, to protect civilians or to hold accountable those responsible for these attacks. In early July 2013, according to the report, thousands of Lou Nuer fighters massed and attacked Murle areas. The full extent of the attack is still not known. Murle who were displaced by the conflict and by SPLA abuses may have been especially vulnerable to the attack. Allegations of government support, including the provision of ammunition to the Lou Nuer, reported by credible sources heard by Human Rights Watch, have further deepened Murle perceptions of government persecution.

The Government’s failure meaningfully to redress the abuses by the SPLA during the disarmament paved the way for further abuses by soldiers in late 2012 and 2013. This report documents the extent of the SPLA’s violations against Murle civilians between December 2012 and July 2013, causing the majority of the Murle population to flee to remote areas of the bush, many of them believed to be cut off from access to emergency food and medical aid. Tens of thousands of Murle are now displaced and too frightened to return, including most of the civilians from all six main population areas in Pibor county, which is now little more than barracks.

SPLA soldiers approached a group of civilians in a village where men were playing a traditional board game. They demanded that the men hand over their guns. The men gave the SPLA two rifles. The SPLA then tied up the men into two groups of seven. The soldiers executed the men in one group at the site and took the men in the other group some distance away and shot them. One man who was shot in the shoulder and left for dead survived the shooting and was later found by other community members.

In conclusion, has the Foreign Secretary raised the issue with his South Sudanese counterpart and will he consider reporting South Sudan to the International Court of Justice for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by the South Sudanese army against its own people?

4.35 pm

Lord Triesman (Lab):

My Lords, in congratulating the noble Baroness, Lady Cox, not least on her tenacity, and other noble Lords who have taken part in this debate, I hope that they will forgive me if I wince and say, “Yet another debate on Sudan”. Those of us who have been there often will feel it the most acutely. The noble Lord, Lord Alton, used the word “anger”, to which I subscribe. There have been more years of conflict and more than 1 million additional people have been affected in the past two years. There are 190,000 more Sudanese refugees in South Sudan. There is further conflict and differences between different groups on political objectives, including between the herders and other farmers. There is, I suppose, conflict between settled communities and those who see very little relevance in being settled because they move with their herds and because borders are not particularly relevant to them.

Two months ago, mass demonstrations about the cost of living and the economy of the country were met by a brutal regime with live ammunition and tear gas, and with mass imprisonment. Negotiations on the safe demilitarised border zone have gone into reverse. Nothing is safe. Nothing is demilitarised. No border zone has been agreed. An African Union peace initiative, through the African Union Peace and Security Council, was twice rescheduled amid sharp African Union criticism once again of the Government of Sudan, and was not responded to by that Government. There was a rather better report on the Government of South Sudan, but none of it yet is making a difference.

It has to be said that South Sudan is both a source of and a destination country for men, women and children who have been subjected in some cases to forced labour and sex trafficking, including women and girls from Uganda, Kenya and the DRC. Inter-ethnic abductions continue but at least the South Sudanese Government have recognised the issues and are trying to intervene. The economies of South Sudan and Sudan, with their high level of interdependency, are continuously disrupted by border disputes and oil transmission fees. I understand that oil reserves are set to halve within 10 years if no new fields come on stream. Exploration of new fields is of course almost impossible amid the military clashes.

War crimes are committed with virtual impunity. There has been no action to enforce international criminal arrest warrants. A large United Nations operation, with at least 4,000 troops in Abyei and 7,500 in South Sudan, has had far too little impact. As the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Guildford said, instability is spreading right through the region—through the DRC, and to a lesser extent in Uganda, and the Central African Republic. Uganda’s help for South Sudan historically has been the basis for the Sudanese Government’s sponsorship of murderous groups, including the monstrous Lord’s Resistance Army and now other groups which have taken its place.

I suppose that, with a feeling of some desperation, we are tempted to ask what is new. There is little point in demanding a great deal more intervention from the UK Government, much as I would wish to. I think that the Government lack the means or the local alliances to do much, and I fear that they lack the will. Of course there will be protests and those protests are important. There will be realism about humanitarian aid. I urge the Government to find alternative routes for aid rather than those through Khartoum. That will not do any longer. Is there more that could be done? Are we destined to return to this debate again and again, to these issues with no real answers? I am one of life’s optimists but this would be a dismal prospect for all of us and I ask if there is new ground we could break. Let me make a modest attempt.

First, of course African issues will be resolved ultimately in Africa for the most part, and by Africans. That must make us focus on the African Union and its machinery and on the sub-continental regional bodies. The issue of capacity in those bodies is critical. It has been for years. The problem is not just money or a lack of outstanding individuals, because there are some outstanding individuals, and it is not just the presence of a mass murderer at the head of the Government of Sudan. Would the Government consider, as a European initiative, a joint EU-AU review of the financial and skills needs of the African Union, carried out routinely at intervals of not more than three years, with a report on the outcome of those discussions and an annual report on the milestones? Then we at least could see some machinery and assess whether it works.

Secondly, would the Government, through the Security Council, advance the case for a standing arrangement—I am not saying a standing force—that can call into existence a peacekeeping force much more rapidly, rather than with the delays during which many more people die? Will the Government through our multinational treaties, alliances and membership organisations, seek the full commitment of everyone in those bodies to act on the arrest warrants in all the jurisdictions that they cover? Al-Bashir is a wanted mass murderer. Will Her Majesty’s Government introduce targeted sanctions? The response in the Chamber to a question just a few days ago was that we had talked to the Nigerians about this without any indication of what happened next—that truly will not do now. It will not do.

Thirdly, will the Government, through its aid programme in the multi-national infrastructure initiatives, look for economic developments which would make a much greater difference? There has been a wider discovery of oil far from ports and from infrastructure. Most of it would be transformational but the countries involved need to co-operate in order to make any difference. Will we assist them to make a difference and give some economic hope?

Finally, on occasions I have heard the aspiration to join the Commonwealth expressed in Juba. I do not know whether that is a workable concept—it may not be yet—but it would certainly provide skilled resources in training, including in health and in the treatment of polio. It would provide links to trade and expertise in all Commonwealth countries. It would provide local trade links, for example in Uganda, Kenya and the region, which might be fundamentally helpful in the development of South Sudan. It would provide a secretariat able to assess the capacity needs and the choreography for the provision of greater capacity; and it would tell the enemies of democracy that they face a worldwide community of democratic nations who will not let this pass.

4.43 pm

Lord Wallace of Saltaire (LD):

My Lords, it has been an impassioned debate. I am grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Cox, for pursuing this issue as she has done so vigorously over many years, and I know that the work of the Associate Parliamentary Group for Sudan and South Sudan also continues to do that.

The right reverend Prelate pointed out that what we see happening across the border between Sudan and South Sudan is also happening across Sudan and South Sudan’s borders with their neighbouring states. This is part of a set of regional conflicts which now sadly flow across the Sahel and central and east Africa. The Lord’s Resistance Army has just made another cross-border attack. As we know, it operates from Uganda, through South Sudan into eastern Congo. Recent events in the Central African Republic, where the Government have been overthrown, have reportedly been supported by groups from Darfur; groups in Darfur have very often obtained their weapons from Libya, Chad or the Central African Republic. Some of these groups move very easily across frontiers. We recognise that part of this is tribal, part of this is ethnic, part of this is racial, and part of this now, sadly, is also the militant Islamic ideology which attracts youths from across those countries. It brings in foreign fighters and foreign ideas of the sort that the right reverend Prelate commented on, breaking up what had been relatively peaceful relations between different communities and different faiths and raising severe problems for all of us, across Africa. I am happy that we will be debating the dreadful situation in eastern Congo in the not too distant future.

Within Sudan, neither the Government in Khartoum nor the Government in Juba control their entire territory. The Government in Khartoum have the advantage of armed forces and external arms supplies and, as we all know, are misusing them in South Kordofan and Blue Nile. There are linked conflicts across the border, with each Government claiming that the other continues to support the rebels within what they regard as their territories; and the border, as established under the comprehensive peace agreement, is not yet accepted by either side. We must recognise that the SPLM in the north refuses to recognise the borders as established.

We have heard a lot about events surrounding the demonstrations in Sudan, which Ministers have condemned both publicly and privately. We certainly want a more democratic space to open up in Sudan. We deeply regret that the Government of Sudan continue to get arms supplies from outside. We are not entirely sure which countries they are coming from, but they are clearly from the forces in what we used to call the Eastern Bloc. We have a fairly good idea where some of them come from. We meet regularly with opposition groups both within and outside the country. That includes meeting the leadership of the SPLM-North, although we do not support its stated aim of overthrowing the regime by force. We also recognise that the Sudan Revolutionary Front is itself a loose coalition of different bodies and not entirely cohesive in its operation.

I must say to the noble Baroness, Lady Kinnock, that we do not channel aid through the Government. We are co-operating with technical preparations for debt relief, but we have made it abundantly clear that debt relief will not be possible until the conflicts are resolved and that the benefits must flow to promoting development in Sudan.

On Darfur, we continue to look with horror at what is happening, while increasingly understanding that some of the militias are not entirely under the control of the central Government in Khartoum. We regret that the Doha document has not in any sense been adopted and that the situation in many ways continues to deteriorate. The question of what we can do about it on our own is difficult.

The noble Lord, Lord Alton, talked about the comparison with Libya. It is much easier to enforce a no-fly zone, or even to intervene, in a country where almost the entire population lives within 50 miles of the coast than it is to enforce a no-fly zone a very long way from the coast—across the borders between South Sudan and northern Sudan—let alone over Darfur. We continue to work with others on the situation in Darfur. We continue to ask within the UN for an effective review of the not very effective UN force in Darfur.

We are doing what we can, but we recognise that it is not enough. Restrictions on access to Darfur are part of the problem. We all understand how appalling what is going on in South Kordofan and Blue Nile is. Local organisations, with support from international partners, are gathering evidence of abuses. We do not have access to those areas to gather evidence first-hand. Noble Lords will know that the two Presidents have met on a number of occasions. We hope that the recent improvement in relations between Sudan and South Sudan will help to resolve the conflict, but we all recognise that the conflict has a dynamic of its own.

Within South Sudan, there are also problems of internal conflict. The noble Lord, Lord Hussain, talked about the conflict in Jonglei, which the South Sudanese Government claim is being supported by the Khartoum Government. We have to recognise that these have aspects of ethnic conflict between tribes. I am tempted to say that some of these are cattle raiding with AK-47s. Unfortunately, with AK-47s you can kill an awful lot more people than you could with spears. There are elements there where government as such—the idea of a settled state—has not developed. In Abyei, as we all understand, the conflict between the Misseriya and the Ngok Dinka has elements of Cain and Abel about it. We are talking about settled tribes versus nomadic tribes. There again, once the weapons are freely available, the challenge is very clear.

On Abyei, we do not recognise the outcome of the unilateral referendum held by the Ngok Dinka community held last week. However, we understand the frustrations that led to it taking place and the extent to which external forces and pressures imposed an extra layer on what were traditional local rivalries and conflicts. Almost three years have elapsed since the referendum should have taken place simultaneously with the wider referendum for South Sudan, but we have seen, as we all know, repeated failure to move forward by honouring existing agreements.

What are the UK Government doing about that? We are no longer an imperial power within the region. We have to work with others. We are working as closely as we can with the African Union and the high-level panel. We are certainly providing the support that we feel will help in the circumstances. We are also, of course, working through and with the United Nations. We are doing our best to make the EU a more active player than it has been. The United Kingdom and France are pushing our EU partners to be more engaged across the whole of northern, eastern and central Africa. It is not a message that all our EU partners are yet willing to hear. The British and the French continue to be by far the most actively engaged. We have to recognise that, as people like me go round other capitals, we have to try to explain to them why our interests are engaged in some of these areas because the problem of refugee migration across the Mediterranean is not entirely disengaged from what is happening across the Sahel and elsewhere.

We wish that the Arab League was more active—the Arab League of which Sudan is a member. The Doha agreement was after all moderated by the Qataris, but we would like to see stronger Arab League involvement. We would like to see more active Chinese involvement. The Chinese have real interests at stake in the supply of oil from South Sudan through Sudan. I am told that the Chinese have now become something of a moderating influence, but I think we all understand that the Chinese Government are reluctant to get too heavily involved in outside intervention.

DfID has a major commitment to South Sudan. I have not been to Juba or Khartoum but I have talked to a number of people working in the aid field in Abyei, Darfur and Juba itself. We are working to try to build the capacities of that very new and undeveloped Government. We saw the change in the Cabinet as being a positive development, and we continue to support them in every way that we can.

The two Permanent Secretaries of DfID and the Foreign Office visited the two capitals in October, and my honourable friend Mark Simmonds is going to Juba at the end of this month, so we are and remain actively engaged. The noble Lord, Lord Triesman, asked for a joint EU-AU review. That is a highly desirable development and I will take that back. As I said, we have to work hard to make sure that all our 27 partners in the EU are committed to this and we have to recognise that the AU has some severe limitations on its own capacities. Going towards a standing arrangement of a peacekeeping force may stretch the AU further than it is yet able to go.

We should recognise that there are AU forces in place—Ethiopian forces in Abyei and Ugandan forces in Somalia—and a brigade under UN auspices in eastern Congo. So a number of African countries are now quite heavily committed. They lack transport, intelligence and logistics. The Government in Juba are pretty dependent on UN helicopters for transport around the country.

Lord Triesman:

I understand only too well the point that is being made about the AU. My suggestion was that the discussion should happen under the auspices of the Security Council because it is possible for other kinds of forces—for example, as we found with Scandinavian police forces in Darfur—to have a very significant role in peacekeeping.

Lord Wallace of Saltaire:

I take that point and of course the UN also has to have a large role. With regard to the Nordic countries, I also recall that the three guarantors of the comprehensive peace agreement were the United Kingdom, the United States and Norway. We continue to raise these issues regularly within the UN Security Council. It is a matter of continuing discussion and we will continue to push very hard. I sincerely hope and trust, and am confident, that noble Lords here, including the noble Baroness herself, will continue to push us to maintain that pressure. Having answered, I hope, most of the points raised in this debate, I will conclude my speech.

4.55 pm

Sitting suspended.

20110618-d0175

Sudan Photo

See also:

https://davidalton.net/2013/03/01/darfur-10-years-on-and-genocide-in-south-kordofan-and-blue-nile-debate-in-the-british-parliament/

https://davidalton.net/2013/05/22/south-kordofan-and-blue-nile-the-killing-continues-questions-in-parliament/

https://davidalton.net/2013/05/22/south-kordofan-and-blue-nile-the-killing-continues-questions-in-parliament/

https://davidalton.net/2012/10/20/baroness-cox-and-lord-alton-highlight-the-continued-killing-in-south-kordofan-and-darfur/

https://davidalton.net/2012/04/17/baroness-caroline-cox-and-hart-report-on-conditions-in-south-kordofan-following-a-visit-to-south-sudan/

https://davidalton.net/2012/03/27/house-of-lords-debate-south-sudan-and-south-kordofan-march-26th-2012/

https://davidalton.net/2012/01/27/baroness-cox-warns-of-fear-of-encirclement-as-a-prelude-to-final-assault-on-the-nuba-mountains-south-kordofan-as-air-assaults-by-khartoum-continue/

https://davidalton.net/2011/08/14/ethnic-cleansing-in-southern-kordofan-when-the-stars-fall-to-earth-httpstarsfalltoearth-com/

https://davidalton.net/2011/07/22/congo-and-southern-kordofan-questions-in-the-house-july-2011/

http://www.acnuk.org/persecuted-and-forgotten-our-religious-freedom-report

Some further thoughts…

·         Democracy and justice remains a distant dream for the peoples of South Sudan for whom the threat of war with Sudan persists. Those living at the border, for whom a Safe Demilitarised Border Zone agreed in September 2012 remains a myth and which the UN is completely failing to monitor. For those in Jonglei state, where over 100,000 have been cut off from life-saving assistance – and where southern rebels allegedly receive support from the Government of Sudan, trying to destabilize the country. Spare a thought for…

·         For the peoples of South Sudan who have not yet seen their peace dividend or opportunity, basic services, education and there is embezzlement and corruption and more must be done to build a civil society which respects diversity and dissent. ..

·         For those in the so called Safe Demilitarised Border Zone  is supposed to prevent cross border escalations of conflict. But it is impossible to build security cooperation – at the core of the ongoing peace process – between the two countries when the UN monitoring mission has no capacity – and seemingly little will – to monitor it?… 

 

·         For the women of both countries, who suffer from being second-class citizens in their own homes.  DfID is right to focus on girl’s access to education. But there is such a long way to go.


Think also about Interdependence and Implications for Citizens of South Sudan…

·         Despite South Sudan’s independence, the futures of both Sudan’s people remains interlinked.

·         South Sudanese citizens depend upon revenues from their oil that flows through Sudan’s pipeline to Port Sudan.

·         These are essential for South Sudan to build its state from scratch, if its peoples are to access education, basic services and if its army is to continue its transition from loose coalition to become a coherent and accountable force.

·        Insecurity in Sudan will also spread into South Sudan’s divided tribal politics. And there is a long history of Sudan supporting rebel movements in South Sudan.

·         

·       The future of South Sudan’s citizens lies in the situation in Sudan. Too soon and too quickly, the two countries are being analysed in isolation from each other.

 

There needs to be an Overarching Transformation 

·         Over 10 years ago I said to this house that Sudan’s modern history is littered with temporary peace agreements which were eventually broken”.

If there is to be an overarching transformation we need to help the African Union High Level Implementation Panel on Sudan, tasked with mediating Sudan’s internal conflicts and the conflict with South Sudan. As things stand it can’t possibly have the necessary capacity required for all the immense tasks to which it is given.

·   In terms of diplomatic relations and ending the piece-meal approach, I am disturbed to learn that the position of the EU Special Representative to Sudan and South Sudan has been cut.  If focus is to be retained we will need to ensure that the EU Special Representative on the Horn of Africa takes up these issues as seriously as the burnt bodies and hungry mouths of Sudan’s diverse population deserve.

 

 

Baroness Cox and Lord Alton Highlight The Continued Killing In South Kordofan and Darfur

Sudan and South Sudan: EUC Report
The EU: Sudan and South Sudan-follow-up report
Motion to Take Note
17 Oct 2012 : Column GC568

Map of Darfur and South Kordofan

Darfur aerial bombardment

Children are being left malnurished as the regime forces non governmental organisations to leave

South Kordofan bombing

The consequences of conflict

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jxi4R3uP9bo&feature=youtu.be

7.20 pm
Lord Alton of Liverpool: My Lords, I welcome the noble Baroness, Lady Warsi, to her new ministerial responsibilities, as others have done. I couple with that my thanks and, I am sure, those of many other noble Lords, to the noble Lord, Lord Howell of Guildford, who dealt with these issues over such a long period and with patience and diligence, and always with great kindness in the way in which he responded to the vexed inquiries that many of us made to him. The noble Baroness, of course, has personal knowledge of Sudan, having travelled there to negotiate the release of Gillian Gibbons, the British teacher who was arrested after a pupil in her class named a teddy bear after the Prophet Muhammad. I know that the noble Baroness is deeply committed to religious tolerance, to co-existence, and to finding ways of resolving the kinds of conflicts that your Lordships have been discussing today. We should all be extremely pleased that she has these new ministerial responsibilities, and we all, I am sure, wish her well.
Earlier we heard from the noble Lord, Lord Jay, about how Darfur has often been swept to one side in the concerns about north-south relationships. That is true, and I want to return to that issue shortly in my remarks. I begin by referring to the situation in South Kordofan, as the most reverend Primate, the right reverend Prelate and the noble Lord, Lord Chidgey, have done. On innumerable occasions I have raised this issue on the Floor of the House with my noble friend Lady Cox, who I am sure will expend a lot of her remarks on that question when she comes to speak.
A meeting was held earlier today with members of the All-Party Group on Sudan, of which I am an officer, along with the noble Lord, Lord Chidgey, and others who are here. I was struck during that meeting with senior officials from the Foreign Office by how immediate and contemporary these concerns are. As a result of a reference that they made to an article that appeared in yesterday’s Guardian, I took the trouble to obtain a copy of that article. I have not seen the YouTube video that apparently has been placed on the internet to which the article refers, but it says:
“Dramatic video footage and satellite images have revealed Sudanese security forces are waging a violent campaign in the Nuba mountains comparable to war crimes in Darfur … The Satellite Sentinel Project … shows the terrifying ordeal of a teenager being tied up and interrogated at gunpoint as a village goes up in flames”.
It goes on to say:
“The SSP said a joint unit of Sudanese army, militia and police forces burned and looted Gardud al Badry”.
John Prendergast, co-founder of the Enough Project, a partner in the SSP, was quoted in the Guardian report yesterday as saying:
“‘We are seeing a repeat of Darfur without the international witnesses’ … He added, ‘Through this campaign of targeted violence, which amounts to crimes against humanity, and its denial of humanitarian access, the government of Sudan is displacing thousands of civilians and contributing to insecurity in the region'”.
Four days ago, an AFP report stated:
“Tanks, artillery and helicopters staged a show of force in the capital of Sudan’s South Kordofan state on Friday, official media said, after unprecedented and deadly rebel shelling of the town”.

17 Oct 2012 : Column GC569

The military parade of force was led by Ahmed Haroun, who, along with Field-Marshal Omar al-Bashir, referred to earlier in our debate, the president of Sudan, is the governor of Kordofan, and like Bashir is indicted as a war criminal by the International Criminal Court. As I raised with officials earlier today, I hope that we will hear from the Minister what we are doing to ensure that we are taking witness statements from those who have been driven into South Sudan from South Kordofan. Many are in refugee camps. It is perfectly possible, therefore, to take first-hand witness statements of the depredations that have occurred in Kordofan. Aerial bombardment continues even while we are meeting.
I turn specifically to Darfur because we are about to reach the 10th anniversary of that conflict, and I hope that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office will take the opportunity, when we reach the anniversary in February next year, to mark it with a series of events, as the all-party group intends to do. Today is a good day to ask the Minister what has happened to Darfur, as did my noble friend Lord Jay and the noble Lord, Lord Anderson, in their remarks. Why is Darfur forgotten while violence is not only continuing, but when one report earlier this month stated that this is,
“the bloodiest year yet in the region”?
Why is the international community so supine in demanding an end to the violence? Since my visit to Darfur in 2004, and the report which I then published then, entitled If This Isn’t Genocide, What Is? 2 million people have been displaced. About 200,000 to 300,000 people have been killed and 90% of the villages have been razed to the ground; and the situation continues to be bleak. Just this week, the acting head of Darfur’s peacekeeping mission, Ms Aichatou Mindjaouldou, highlighted the recent alarming rise in violence with high civilian casualties, calling the trend an “alarming development”. Between 25 and 27 September, more than 70 civilians were killed in Hashaba with reports of aerial bombardments there as well as in South Kordofan. Further west, four Nigerian peacekeepers were killed on 2 October in an ambush near El-Geneina in west Darfur, the area I visited eight years ago.
In the context of the EU sub-committee’s remit-at paragraph 6 the report refers briefly to the “extremely serious” situation in the region, the EU is a member of the Joint Commission which is one of two ceasefire monitoring and implementation mechanisms provided for in the July 2011 Doha Document for Peace in Darfur. It was tasked with resolving disputes referred to it by the Ceasefire Commission, the other mechanism. Perhaps in the sub-committee’s future work, it might be interested to find out why we have failed to put those instruments into operation.
The failure to create peace has left approximately 3.2 million people in Darfur currently receiving food aid, including some 1.7 million IDPs registered in camps. As I said, Darfur is a dangerous and lawless region. There are fears that the operations of the NGOs and humanitarian agencies that deliver this aid will face increasing difficulty due not only to increasing violence, but also to deliberate attempts by the Government of Sudan to restrict access and impede operations. We have already seen the expulsion of numerous NGOs from Sudan over the past few years,

17 Oct 2012 : Column GC570

13 in 2009 and four this year from east Sudan. The situation that is developing there is extremely ominous as well. If the space for humanitarian operations in Darfur continues to narrow, what will be the implications for the millions of people dependent on aid? If the remaining NGOs are made to leave, how will the gap be filled?
Let me mention one of those NGOs. Earlier in the year, with my noble friend Lord Sandwich, I attended a meeting in your Lordships’ House which was addressed by the remarkable Patricia Parker MBE, who is the chief executive officer and chairman of trustees of Kids for Kids, a charity that works in Darfur and whose patrons include the noble Baroness, Lady Rendell, and the noble Lord, Lord Cope. Mrs Parker believes, as I do, that Darfur is has become out of sight and out of mind as the juggernaut of the world media and campaigning activism has simply decided to move on. At the Conservative Party Conference, the Foreign Secretary William Hague specifically highlighted the use of rape as a weapon of war and rightly cited Syria, Rwanda and Bosnia, but not Darfur, where there continue to be almost weekly reports of rape. Why was there this omission and why has it gone out of mind?
In Darfur, rape has led to HIV becoming a major issue. I was sent a photograph last week of a dying little boy in El Fasher hospital who had already seen both his parents die of HIV. Before the conflict erupted in Darfur 10 years ago, HIV was unknown. Since then, year by year, rape has been used as a weapon of war with horrifying consequences. This conflict has been fuelled by a regime whose leaders are indicted by the ICC for crimes against humanity. The Sudanese air force continues to bomb its own people weekly and a recent report from the organisation Waging Peace shows that government-sponsored attacks are increasing in their regularity as the regime continues to work through its local proxies.
It would be good to hear from the Minister what she is doing to ensure that Field Marshall Omar al-Bashir is brought to justice. Have we supported the suggestion made on 5 June by the International Criminal Court prosecutor, Luis Merino Ocampo, as he relinquished his post? He argued that the UN Security Council should consider asking member states and regional organisations to conduct operations to arrest Sudanese officials indicted by the ICC. Is that something which Her Majesty’s Government would be prepared to support?
As the conflict has raged it has led not only to systematic rape, it has decimated the ability of the people to feed themselves and their children. We heard a very pertinent contribution by my noble friend Lord Cameron on the issue of agriculture and the importance of sustainability in terms of people being able to feed themselves. Let me give an illustration of the scale of the problem. Last year, Hilat Ibrahim, a village of 1,500 people, lost 37 children to malnutrition. One in every 12 families has lost a child, and Kids for Kids reports that the majority of families in the villages have not been able to save enough seed to plant this season. Children are facing horrendous conditions in the villages of Darfur, yet again the international media is sadly silent.

17 Oct 2012 : Column GC571

In February 2011, Henry Bellingham, then the Minister for Africa, said that,
“we will not be taking our eye off Darfur, as we work tirelessly to establish a lasting peace in that troubled province”.-[Official Report, Commons, 1/2/11; col. 724.]
Yet whatever the words, the violence is increasing, HIV is rampant, children are malnourished and the world has moved on. Even at the height of the violence and when Darfur was in the headlines, aid did not reach two-thirds of the population. The international community claimed that its aid programme was a success because the aim was to help those people who had fled to the camps. But what of the families struggling to survive in the villages in rural areas? The months ahead are set to be the hardest ever.
Over half the population of Darfur has no water source. Almost a quarter of the population, including children, walk more than six miles to reach water in winter. In the summer “hungry” months, many walk more than 20 miles. Walking for water continues to be dangerous, with frequent reports of attacks. UNAMID has at times provided escorts to groups of women from the camps, but not for the women in the villages. With failed crops, women have to scavenge not just for water, but for wood and wild food such as mukheit, which is toxic, but anything is better than nothing if you are trying to survive. It is harder to find scarce food in a group, and still they are attacked. Healthcare in villages has collapsed.
UNAMID is the world’s most expensive peacekeeping force, yet it is regarded by most Darfuris as siding with their oppressors in Khartoum, so ineffective have been its operations. Moreover, its capacity is about to be cut. On 31 July, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 2063, renewing the mandate of UNAMID for a year. The resolution authorised a reconfiguration of UNAMID to include 16,200 military personnel, 2,310 police personnel and 17 formed police units of a maximum of 140 personnel each. Prior to the adoption, the council was briefed by the joint AU-UN Special Representative for Darfur, Ibrahim Gambari. Mr Gambari said that implementation of the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur was behind schedule and that a new implementation timeline had been created. UNAMID, the world’s largest peacekeeping force, has received a lot of criticism for its failure to protect civilians, a lack of clarity in its protection mandate, and some suspicions from Darfuris that UNAMID is too close to the Government. However, as with the humanitarian agencies, UNAMID has been a victim of the number of restrictions and bureaucratic impediments to its operations by the Government of Sudan. Darfur, as I have said in every respect, is difficult terrain. Its new iteration consists of a number of cuts to troop numbers to reflect the contested suggestion that there had been a “drastic decrease” in the number of people killed in clashes and to enable it to react more rapidly. This does not accord with the description of 2012 as the “bloodiest year yet” in the region.
I would like to hear from the Minister about the renewal of the UNAMID mandate and whether Her Majesty’s Government supported the reductions in the number of peacekeepers in Darfur. What steps have been taken to implement the Doha Document for

17 Oct 2012 : Column GC572

Peace in Darfur, to which I have already referred? Can she tell us how the UK has highlighted other critical issues, including the escalation in violence that I have mentioned-the attacks against civilians and the use of sexual or gender-based violence? What of the failure of other rebel movements to sign the Doha document? What of the deaths of 10 UNAMID peacekeepers in the past year and the prevention of humanitarian agencies from assessing those most in need?
Given that Khartoum has expelled most international humanitarian groups, whose presence is desperately needed, what representations are we making to the Government of Sudan, the rebel groups and the international partners to urge greater access for the humanitarian organisations? What has been the result of those representations? What assistance might we consider extending beyond our current programmes to communities struggling to survive in rural villages in Darfur? Will we commit to adjusting the balance of spend on bilateral assistance in Darfur towards greater funding for sustainable development projects in rural villages, and encourage other donors to do likewise?
What support will we give to IDP families to enable them to settle in host villages, enabling them to be assimilated in the community through integrated projects? Kids for Kids has a unique “welcome home” package that is sustainable and does that, and I hope that the Minister will agree to meet Mrs Parker to discuss that important work. Can the Minister tell us, either today or through correspondence, what we are doing to promote civil society in Darfur? Finally, what is the Minister’s assessment of the current state of this continuing conflict?
The situation in Darfur, and more broadly in Sudan and South Sudan, requires sustained high-level political action by the European Union and Her Majesty’s Government for years to come. As we approach the 10-year anniversary of the beginning of the conflict in Darfur, we must also remember that this area of the country has been consistently and intentionally marginalised for decades. It will take decades to build peace and stability, and a long-term view of development is essential. Now is most certainly not the time to take our eyes off Darfur.
7.36 pm

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)

26 QUESTIONS HER MAJESTY’S GOVERNMENT MUST ANSWER ON DARFUR


1) What is the their latest estimate of the number of people dependant on food aid in Darfur; how does this compare with the number requiring food aid this time last year; are they confident that sufficient food is in place to enable those who are dependant on food aid to survive the rainy season.

2) What assessment have they made of the level of malnutrition and risks to personal health of the displaced people of Darfur.

3) What has been done to implement the UN Security Council resolution of March 29th 2005 to freeze the assets of and restrict the travel movements of the architects of the genocide in Darfur.

4) When they expect to complete the arrangements for the UK mortality survey in Darfur; and whether they accept the most recent estimates that 500 people die every day in Darfur.

5)Whether they concur with the assessment of Kofi Annan, Secretary General of the United nations, made in May 2005 that Darfur is “little short of hell on earth”; and what protest they have made to the Government of Sudan following Mr Annan’s latest complaint that the 10,000 mainly Sudanese humanitarian Aid workers in Darfur, face constant harassment and interference.

6)Whether they will institute a regular system of reporting to both houses of Parliament the accounts of African Union monitors of Arial attacks, beatings, rape, and killings in Darfur; and to detail such incidents for April and May 2005.

7) What assessment they have made of the 10,000 photographs taken by Mr Brian Steidre , serving with the African Union, of gross violations of Human Rights in Darfur and of the nine boxes of statements collected durng his time in Darfur

8) What assessment they have made of evidence collated by the International Crisis Group that the government of Sudan is 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.

9) Have they 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 all top army commanders in the Janjaweed militia receive their orders from Khartoum and that the Government of Sudan directs all military operations and activities by the Janjaweed militia.

10) Have they assessed the validity of the work undertaken by the Coalition for International Justice and Tufts University in the US that 400,000 people have died in Darfur in the last two years and that 90% of Darfur’s villages have been destroyed.

11) In establishing the UK government’s position that what is happening in Darfur is not genocide, will they list the criteria they used and state in what ways the criteria differed from those used by the US State department and the Governments of Canada and Germany.

12) What is their estimate of the number of African Union troops required to secure Darfur; how many are there at present.

13) Whether they agree with the UN 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.”

14) Will they discount suggestions that their policy in relation to Darfur has been unduly influenced by a) A desire to use the Government of Sudan as a conduit for intelligence gathering in relation to Al-Qaeda. b) Oil interests elsewhere in the country; and c) fears that the comprehensive peace settlement in the south might be destabilised.

15) What account they took of genocide in Darfur when they supported the decision by 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 G8 finance ministers in London on June 12th 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.

16) What is being done to implement the Security Councils resolution of July 30th 2004 to disarm the Janjaweed militia.

17) What is the position of Her Majesty’s Government in relation to the application made by Belarus to the UN sanctions committee seeking permission to sell arms to Sudan.

18) What estimate they have made on how long it will take before the first indictments are handed down to the 51 names on the International Criminal Court’s list of alleged perpetrators of War Crimes in Darfur.

19) 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.

20) Does the View of Mr Chris Mullen M.P., when minister responsible for Africa, that the deployment of an International Peacekeeping force in Darfur represents “an invitation to every jihadist in the region to go there” Still represent the thinking of Her Majesties Government?

21) What representations they have made to the Arab league about the killing of African Muslims in Darfur.

22) What are they doing to establish a No-Fly zone over Darfur.

23) 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

24) What assessment they have made of the statement by Jan Egeland, the UN’s under secretary for Humanitarian affairs that 10,000 people will die every month in Darfur if insecurity leads to humanitarian organisations suspending their operations there.

25) What discussions have been held between the Foreign office and the Home office about the position of Sudanese refugees facing torture in Sudan, such as Dr Musa Saadeldin.

26) What assessment they have made of the assessment of CARITAS and CAFOD that one in three of the children in receipt of food aid at their feeding stations in El Dhein are malnourished.

Sudan: Darfur

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—

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.

Baroness Cox: My Lords, does the Minister agree that the Sudanese Government’s slaughter of their own people in Darfur, together with recent reports of military offensives against its own people in the Upper Nile, proves that their commitment to the peace process is extremely dubious and that they are using the peace talks to gain credibility and time while they continue to kill their own people? Therefore, would Her Majesty’s Government, who have been criticised for their inadequate response in the Human Rights Watch report, now consider seriously much more robust measures, such as targeted economic sanctions, arms embargoes, a UN Security Council resolution, and even taking action in regard to the commission of crimes against humanity?

Baroness Crawley: My Lords, the noble Baroness is right: the Government of Sudan do have a responsibility to protect their people. We have made that very clear in all our contacts, from ministerial to ambassadorial level. She is also right that the UN has taken the matter seriously and will continue to do so. Our discussions with the UN will continue. If we do not get any further and the ceasefire is not held, and if the Government of Sudan do not co-operate as they said they would—for instance, in regard to providing access for NGOs to the people who are suffering so much—we shall talk to our international partners about what further steps we may take.

Lord Avebury: My Lords, is the Minister aware that when the Sudanese Foreign Minister addressed the Sudan parliamentary group on 11 May he said that the Sudanese Government had yet to respond to the recommendation made by the UN report that an international commission of inquiry should be authorised to examine the actions of the regular army and the Janjaweed militia and to make recommendations on a process of accountability for the crimes that are being committed? Will the Government press President al-Bashir for a response to this recommendation? Has he yet accepted the Secretary-General’s proposal that he should disarm the militia, whose attacks on civilians in Western Darfur have led to this grave humanitarian crisis?

Baroness Crawley: My Lords, I agree that the position of the militia is very much key to this crisis. One of the pressures that we are exerting on the Sudanese Government is that they must rein in and neutralise the armed militia known as the Janjaweed. We have continued to say this on an almost daily basis. The priority now is to get the monitoring commission into place. The African Union is working on this as we speak.

Baroness Rawlings: My Lords, what steps are Her Majesty’s Government taking in response to the UNICEF report that there is increasing alarm about the low level of sanitation, the growing number of displaced people requiring shelter and signs of increasing malnutrition among children and women?

Does the Minister agree that the horrific child malnutrition level of 23 per cent—which is already well above the internationally recognised critical level of 15 per cent—is unacceptable?

Baroness Crawley: My Lords, I agree that this is a dire situation and that the figures given by the noble Baroness are totally unacceptable. DfID has already contributed more than £16.5 million, and we have provided key personnel to support the UN co-ordination effort in response to this humanitarian crisis. Our ambassador in Khartoum has taken the lead in establishing regular fortnightly meetings between the Sudanese Government and donors to discuss and try to reduce the obstacles to the humanitarian access of NGOs into Darfur.

The Earl of Sandwich: My Lords, when the Sudanese Foreign Minister was here, he also denied that the political detainees in Darfur had been released. Will Her Majesty’s Government press the Sudanese Government to release all detainees in Darfur?

Baroness Crawley: My Lords, I shall pass on that request to the department.