I would like to provide the House with an update, following the summer recess, on developments in Sudan and South Sudan.
We continue to support and encourage Sudan and South Sudan to develop as two independent states in peaceful co-existence with one another. Both countries face significant challenges. There remain many outstanding issues following the end of the comprehensive peace agreement, the responsibility for which must ultimately lie with the Governments of the two countries.
Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile
The conflict in Southern Kordofan continues. We remain deeply concerned at this situation, and continue to call for an immediate end to the violence that is having a devastating effect on over 150,000 civilians. It is disappointing that, despite the announcement on 23 August by Sudanese President al-Bashir of a unilateral two week ceasefire, we have received reports of continuing violence and human rights abuses by both sides in southern Kordofan. As I made clear in the statement of 24 August, we urge the Government of Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (Northern Sector) to allow immediate humanitarian access to the many civilians affected by the ongoing violence.
It is very concerning that violence has broken out in Blue Nile State, which shares many of the challenges faced by Southern Kordofan. Thousands of civilians have already been displaced. As I made clear in the statement of 2 September, we condemn any action that endangers civilian lives, in particular aerial bombardments. We will continue to work closely with our international partners to push for an immediate cessation of hostilities and the establishment of an agreed process to address the root causes of the violence in both Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile.
In Abyei, we continue to have concerns about the humanitarian situation, with over 100,000 people still displaced by the violence earlier this year. Following UN Security Council Resolution 1990, which authorised the deployment of up to 4,200 Ethiopian peacekeepers to Abyei as part of United Nations Interim Stability Force for Abyei (UNISFA), deployment of UNISFA troops is ongoing. UNISFA was primarily mandated to monitor and verify the withdrawal of SAF and SPLA troops from the Abyei area. We are very concerned that this has not yet occurred and call for both sides to immediately start withdrawing from the Abyei area. UNISFA should also provide de-mining assistance, facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid, facilitate the return of civilians in the Abyei area and protect those under imminent threat of physical violence. We expect the Security Council to mandate UNISFA to provide force protection for border monitors, whose deployment was agreed to on 30 July by Sudan and South Sudan in Addis Ababa.
We welcomed the Government of Sudan and Liberation and Justice Movement’s endorsement of the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur on 14 July. We now urge both parties to implement the agreements made. We are grateful to the Government of Qatar for their continued efforts to find a peaceful solution to the ongoing conflict, and look forward to working closely with Qatar through the Implementation Follow-Up Committee which meets for the first time on 11 September. Looking forward, we encourage continued engagement between the Government and the armed movements to prevent Sudan from breaking further into conflict. We stand ready to support the UN and AU as they prepare a road map setting out the next phase of the Darfur peace process.
Comprehensive Peace Agreement
We are disappointed that there has still been no conclusive agreement between the two countries on many of the outstanding unresolved issues from the comprehensive peace agreement (CPA) which ended on the 9 July. These issues include oil, citizenship and border demarcation. There has been no progress on agreeing the citizenship rights of southerners in (north) Sudan, and vice versa, beyond the agreement of a nine-month transitional period which will come to an end in March 2012. The five disputed areas of the border remain unresolved. We strongly encourage both parties to negotiate in earnest with the intention of reaching a lasting settlement.
We support the facilitation offered by the African Union high-level implementation panel (AU HIP), led by Thabo Mbeki, to come to an agreement on these matters. The UK has contributed £250,000 to AU HIP this year, enabling this crucial work. We continue to press both parties and the AU HIP to urgently engage in resolving these issues.
President Bashir publically stated on 12 July that a constitutional review process, required following the completion of the comprehensive peace agreement, will be a broad-based and inclusive dialogue. We will continue to press for this to be the case.
In South Sudan, we welcome President Kiir’s announcement on 27 August of his first Cabinet, eight weeks after independence. This is an important step for the new country. We welcome his commitment to improving service delivery across Government and his intent to show concrete progress on this within 100 days. We now look forward to engaging with the new Ministers, and working with them in support of our shared goals. We will continue to highlight the importance of tackling corruption at every level.
UN Mission In South Sudan
The United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), mandated to support peace in South Sudan, continues to deploy. The mission, led by former Norwegian Development Minister, Hilde Johnson, will seek to foster state building and economic development, prevent and resolve conflict and protect civilians. Recently we have seen continued localised violence in South Sudan, which gives cause for real concern. There are ongoing sporadic bouts of fighting in Warrap state which are estimated to have killed around 100 people, while one recent incident of inter-tribal violence in Jonglei resulted in several hundred dead. I welcome the South Sudanese Government’s decision to send troops to the area to prevent further revenge attacks and an escalation of violence. We urge the Government of South Sudan to work swiftly to establish a reconciliation process and identify long-term solutions to the causes of such violence—as they have committed to doing.
Going forward, we encourage the Government of South Sudan, supported where necessary by the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), to be more proactive in addressing inter-tribal conflicts, and their underlying causes.
In Sudan and South Sudan, the growth and diversification of the economy will be a vital factor in establishing the long-term stability and development that will prevent conflict and the abuses of human rights that accompany conflict. The primary responsibility for this lies with the Governments of the two states. The UK will play its part, however, in supporting such development, for example in South Sudan we will create more employment opportunities in agriculture and work to help reduce the costs of trans-border trade; and in Port Sudan, where the opportunities for economic development are considerable.
The UK will remain committed to supporting the development of two economically viable and peaceful states, underpinned by good governance, respect for human rights and an environment in which humanitarian assistance can reach all that need it. We continue to speak out against unacceptable actions in both countries when we feel it necessary. We will continue to work closely with the Governments in both Sudan and South Sudan and with our international partners in pursuit of those goals.