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Sudan: Darfur

Volume 685: debated on Tuesday 10 October 2006

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What progress is being made on the implementation of the United Nations Security Council resolutions relating to Darfur; what is their current assessment of the security and humanitarian situation in Darfur; and what are their current assessments of total numbers of fatalities and displaced people since the conflict began.[HL7465]

The UN Security Council has a range of resolutions to address the appalling situation in Darfur. The council adopted UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1591 in March 2005 to sanction individuals who are impeding the peace process and violating human rights in Darfur. It established a panel of experts to make recommendations in this respect. The council adopted UNSCR 1672 in April 2006 to impose sanctions on a first group of individuals. We strongly support the panel of experts’ continuing work. We agreed to extend its mandate in UNSCR 1713, adopted on 29 September 2006.

In UNSCR 1564, the council established an international commission of inquiry to investigate reports of violations of international humanitarian law and human rights law in Darfur by all parties. This body reported in January 2005. In March 2005, we helped secure UNSCR 1593, referring the situation in Darfur to the International Criminal Court (ICC). We continue to work with our international partners to maintain pressure on all parties, including the Government of Sudan, to provide full co-operation to the ICC as it carries out its investigative work.

In May 2006, UNSCR 1679 called for the full and rapid implementation of the Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA) signed on 5 May in Abuja, and on the non-signatories to join the peace process. Progress here has been slow and insufficient. We are working actively in Darfur, with the Government of Sudan, and with our international partners to ensure the parties to the DPA implement their commitments and to bring non-signatories to sign the accord.

On 31 August 2006, the council authorised a UN Mission for Darfur to replace the current African Union (AU) Mission (AMIS). We are working with the UN Secretary-General, Security Council partners, the AU and the League of Arab States to secure Sudanese consent and co-operation for that mission. In the mean time, the United Nations will provide additional support to help bolster AMIS until a UN mission can deploy.

The security situation in Darfur remains critical. The Sudanese armed forces launched a major offensive against rebels in Darfur in late August, which has also resulted in civilian deaths and displacements. Rebel violence has also affected humanitarian operations. We are calling urgently for an end to these military offensives.

The humanitarian situation is precarious and has the potential to deteriorate very rapidly. Access for humanitarian agencies is already severely hampered by banditry, fighting and attacks on aid workers and hijacking of their vehicles. Any significant change in the security situation could result in a sharp decline in humanitarian conditions. For example, the withdrawal of agencies from Gereida in south Darfur, following prolonged interfactional fighting last weekend, has left an extremely vulnerable population of over 100,000. The number of persons displaced since the conflict began is estimated to be around 2 million. Since April 2004, we have contributed over £190 million in humanitarian assistance to Sudan. We are supporting the World Food Programme through the Common Humanitarian Fund, to which we have contributed £49 million in 2006, making up approximately 66 per cent of its total. £24 million of bilateral aid in 2006 is in support of the International Committee of the Red Cross and non-governmental organisations.

Estimates of the number of those who have died as a result of the conflict in Darfur vary widely. The most commonly cited figure is around 200,000 but this remains an estimate based on extrapolation from limited available data.