My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for International Development has made the following Statement.
The British Government will provide a further £15 million to support the African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS) this financial year. The AMIS force of 7,000 carries out vital operations in Darfur, and in very difficult circumstances. It relies on the support of the international community to fund its operations and the UK has been a leading contributor since its deployment.
A high-level consultation on Darfur was held in Addis Ababa on 16 November 2006. It concluded that the UN needs to provide increased support to AMIS, to enhance its effectiveness and ability to protect the civilians of Darfur and implement the Darfur peace agreement (DPA) signed on 5 May. This UN support will come in three phases, culminating in a joint AU/UN peacekeeping force of 17,000, with 3,000 police. This will require sustainable funding and the UN Secretary-General will request that this come from the UN. In the mean time, the AU Peace and Security Council met on 30 November. It endorsed the Addis conclusions and extended the mandate of AMIS for a further six months from 1 January. But this extension is conditional upon sufficient funding from the international community.
The African Union estimates the cost of extending AMIS’s mandate to continue its current operations and to implement expansions under the DPA as $343 million (£175 million). Finding these funds will require a concerted international effort and the UK is fully committed to playing its part. As an important donor to AMIS and in recognition of the urgent need to sustain its work, the UK will give a further £15 million to support the force for its extended mandate.
This contribution brings the total British assistance to AMIS for this financial year to £35 million. The previously committed £20 million has been funding ground fuel contracts, airlift for Nigerian and Rwandan battalions and military observers. It also includes a cash contribution of £13.5 million to cover personnel and catering costs for the period October to December. These are vital running costs for AMIS to continue its operations. As well as taking a lead in committing UK funds, we are also encouraging other donors to make new pledges to sustain the mission.