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Volume 450: debated on Wednesday 25 October 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps are being taken by her Department to meet the recommendations made by the International Crisis Group in its report “Getting the UN into Darfur” (a) to apply targeted sanctions to National Congress Party (NCP), (b) to authorise a forensic accounting firm to investigate the offshore accounts and assets of the NCP and their affiliated businesses, (c) to consider sanctions against the petroleum sector in Sudan and (d) to begin planning to enforce a no-fly zone over Darfur. (95069)

We welcome the publication of the International Crisis Group report. It is a constructive input into international efforts to solve the crisis in Darfur.

The UK believes that this appalling conflict is best addressed through sustained international pressure, including sanctions where appropriate. We fully back the UN sanctions currently in force–arms embargo on the Darfur region, travel ban and assets freeze against named individuals. All countries are required to implement the sanctions, including ensuring that financial institutions freeze any assets of listed individuals. We also strongly supported UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1591 which established a panel of experts to review the Darfur situation and submit recommendations on further sanctions to the Sanctions Committee. The panel reported at the end of September. We are considering with our UN Security Council partners whether further sanctions on any of the parties to the conflict will help solve it. Our priority is to press all parties to implement the Darfur Peace Agreement. A UN peacekeeping force, as foreseen in UNSCR 1706, is best placed to prevent further conflict. We are working at the UN to establish this force. We are, with our partners, pressing the government of Sudan to agree to it. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for International Development conveyed this message directly to President Bashir in Khartoum on 16 October.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if she will assess the military situation in Darfur. (96176)

The military situation in Darfur remains critical. There has been renewed fighting between Sudanese Government forces and the non-signatories to the Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA) since late August, in contravention of UN Security Council resolution 1591. This fighting has had a disastrous impact on delivery of much-needed humanitarian assistance. Over 50,000 people have been displaced since the fighting began. Some 1.9 million people are displaced in Darfur and 3.6 million need assistance to meet their basic needs. There has been a major increase in rape and gender-based violence. Many humanitarian organisations are considering pulling out altogether because of the security risk. Cross-border attacks from Darfur into Eastern Chad are also continuing, with Eastern Chad now host to some 200,000 refugees from Darfur. The UK utterly condemns this fighting and stresses urgently the need for all parties to end military attacks.

A lasting solution to the Darfur conflict requires the end of military operations, the resumption of political dialogue in order to fully implement the DPA, and the deployment of a UN force. In co-ordination with UN, EU, African Union, Arab League and other partners the UK is working to achieve these aims. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for International Development set out our objectives directly to President Bashir during his visit to Sudan on 16 October.