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Volume 470: debated on Wednesday 16 January 2008

We continue to monitor the humanitarian situation in Darfur. Some 4 million people are dependent on food aid, 2 million people have been displaced and 280,000 people have had to leave the country. We continue to work with the United Nations and the African Union to bring peace to that troubled region.

The fact that the Darfur genocide is now entering its sixth year is largely down to the UN Security Council, especially China, which has blocked or diluted efforts to stop the violence, leading the Khartoum regime to treat the United Nations-African Union Mission in Darfur protection force with contempt. Will my right hon. Friend say how he will tackle the continued failure of the UN to secure compliance with its own edicts and decisions, so that the looming threat of the withdrawal of humanitarian organisations such as Médecins sans Frontières can be avoided?

I praise my hon. Friend for his long-standing commitment to, and interest in, the area of Darfur and the problems that people are facing. As I said a minute ago, the problems are appalling and run to hundreds of thousands of people having been displaced or being on aid.

My hon. Friend mentions China. I talked to the Premier of China this morning about this very issue, because I believe that China and the United Kingdom can work with other countries to make sure that the Government of Sudan ensure that a ceasefire is properly administered, to bring in the African Union peacekeeping force, which is supported by the United Nations—20,000 more peacekeepers—and to move towards political talks that can bring a political settlement, where all parties, including those that did not attend the previous talks, are brought to the table. On my visit to China, I intend to continue the talks with Premier Wen so that all of us, including the Chinese Government, add to the pressure for a peaceful settlement in Darfur.