The African Union has extended AMIS’ mandate to 31 December 2006. Funding remains a crucial issue. The UK has already contributed £20 million this financial year. We are now looking to see what else we can provide. We have called on states who made commitments to AMIS at the 18 July Donors’ Conference to honour those commitments, and for others who have not yet contributed to AMIS to look again at what financial and in kind assistance they can give. We are also calling on the Arab League to honour the pledge it made in March and in September to fund AMIS.
The Darfur Peace Agreement, signed in Abuja on 5 May this year, is a good deal for the people of Darfur. It gives them a greater say in Government in both Darfur and Khartoum, and also grants Darfur a share of the national wealth, including funds to rebuild and develop the region. Most importantly it includes enhanced ceasefire and security arrangements aimed at restoring peace and security to the region.
But insufficient progress has been made on implementing the Agreement, largely because a number of the rebel groups are yet to sign up to it. We are pressing them to do so, including through a diplomatic initiative with the EU, US and others on the ground in Darfur. The Government of Sudan must also fulfil its commitments, particularly on disarming the Janjaweed, as must Minni Minnawi, the only rebel leader to have signed the deal. We are encouraging both the Government of Sudan and Minni Minnawi to reach out to the non-signatories to bring them on board.
The UN estimates that (a) the current number of internally displaced people in (i) Darfur is 1.9 million and (ii) elsewhere in Sudan is around four million, of whom around half are in the Khartoum area and (b) there are approximately 200,000 refugees from Sudan in Chad.
The UK Government are immensely concerned about the attacks on aid workers in Darfur since July. We have made it clear to all parties that the fighting must stop and that any attempts to hinder the humanitarian effort are unacceptable. The situation is precarious and has the potential to deteriorate very rapidly.
Because of the rise in attacks, aid agencies have resorted to working remotely from regional centres and using commercial vehicles. This means that programmes are likely to be less effective as specialist staff are not on site. Having fewer international staff near the most vulnerable people increases the likelihood of attacks against them. The reduced presence of specialist health care means that any outbreak of disease, such as cholera could have potentially devastating consequences. We are discussing with the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) the possibility of further support to their security and co-ordination role, and we are looking at funding additional security training for our NGO partners.