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Volume 684: debated on Monday 24 July 2006

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What progress has been made this year with the implementation of the north-south comprehensive peace agreement in Sudan; how many United Kingdom personnel are engaged in this process; and how many of these are already working in the south.[HL6957]

Progress is being made. The Government of National Unity are settling in. On the security side, institutions critical to maintaining the ceasefire are operating effectively. There has also been rapid force redeployment by the Sudanese armed forces from the south and they are ahead of the withdrawal timetable. The Sudanese People's Liberation Army's withdrawal from the east is complete. On the economic side, at least US $700 million to $800 million of oil revenues have been transferred to the south since last year. Rural roads have been upgraded, basic services are being delivered and the Government of Southern Sudan's partners are working hard to build capacity. The first joint National Congress Party and Sudan People's Liberation Movement conference to discuss implementation of the comprehensive peace agreement (CPA) was held at the end of May.

There is still much to do before the many provisions of the CPA are fully implemented. In particular, Abyei continues to be without a civil administration while the parties decide how to proceed with the recommendations of the Abyei Boundaries Commission. The north/south boundary has yet to be set, which is critical to determining the south's oil wealth and the redeployment of the two sides' armed forces. In addition, the National Petroleum Commission is not yet fully operational, making it difficult to verify whether the south is receiving in full the oil revenue it is entitled to. These revenues are essential to funding sustainable development in the south, where tangible change on the ground is occurring only very slowly.

Ensuring the implementation of the CPA is a major priority for the UK. We have substantial development and humanitarian programmes. At the 2005 Oslo donor conference, we pledged over £300 million for the following three years for humanitarian and development assistance, and are on track with disbursing our support. Our ambassador in Khartoum is an active member of the Assessment and Evaluation Commission, the body tasked with monitoring the CPA's implementation, and the chairman of its Security Working Group. We are also working hard to ensure that the CPA remains high on the international community's agenda. Its implementation was an important focus of last month's UK-led United Nations Security Council visit to Sudan. They visited Juba on 8 June and witnessed at first hand both the progress made and the challenges facing the Government of Southern Sudan.

There are three British Government staff based in southern Sudan. Another eight Department for International Development-contracted consultants work on CPA issues, one of whom is based in the south. Many other British Government staff divide their time between issues relating to the CPA, Darfur and other issues, but give a considerable proportion of their time to the first. These include our ambassador in Khartoum and his deputy, the rest of the political and defence sections in our embassy in Khartoum (10 UK-based and one locally engaged staff), the whole of DfID Khartoum (12 UK-based and nine locally engaged staff), and all the members of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO)/DfID Sudan Unit (nine staff). A further eight advisory staff in DfID and the FCO work part time on CPA issues. There are many UK nationals who are employed by the UN and non-governmental organisations working on such matters.