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Volume 460: debated on Wednesday 23 May 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent assessment she has made of the situation in Eastern Sudan. (138177)

Following the signing of the Eastern Sudan Peace Agreement (ESPA) between the Government of Sudan and the Eastern Front (EF) on 14 October 2006, the region has been calm. We welcomed the ESPA, but are concerned that implementation has been slow. This is partly due to the EF’s inability to agree nominations to political posts in the Government and National Assembly in Khartoum. We have urged them to complete this process quickly.

The east remains one of the poorest parts of Sudan. Large numbers of people live in extreme poverty and socio-economic indicators, such as infant mortality, are the worst in the country. Illiteracy and unemployment levels in the region are also high. The UK supports development and stability in Eastern Sudan as part of our contribution to implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement.

The UK currently chairs an informal donor co-ordination group on Eastern Sudan. This group shares information and fosters joint programming among members of the international community. The Government’s own support to Eastern Sudan includes pressing the Government of Sudan for the timely transfer of funds from the central budget to the states and pilot projects such as a social protection scheme implemented in the east through Oxfam.