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Sudan: Darfur

Volume 689: debated on Tuesday 6 February 2007

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What action they are taking to prevent the harassment and intimidation of international personnel in Darfur, including attacks on United Nations' and non-governmental organisations' compounds, and to stop the spread of communicable diseases both in Western Sudan and its immediate neighbours. [HL1653]

Humanitarian agencies are struggling in exceptionally and increasingly difficult circumstances to deliver vital aid to those in need in Darfur. The Secretary of State for International Development issued a statement on 26 January 2007 condemning the abuse UN and NGO humanitarian staff were subjected to in Nyala, south Darfur by the Sudanese security forces and calling on the Government of Sudan to bring those responsible to account.

We are working with all sides to the conflict to ensure the ability of humanitarian agencies to operate freely, securely and without constraint. We are calling on all sides to cease the violence immediately, renew the ceasefire and political process, and accept the AU/UN peacekeeping force for Darfur.

Sporadic outbreaks of communicable diseases, such as meningitis and cholera, have taken place in Darfur in recent years. Due to the presence of so many international aid agencies, however, the response has been swifter and more effective than in many other parts of Sudan. A concern is outbreaks in areas now too insecure for aid agencies to operate.

DfID channels most of its humanitarian funds through the Common Humanitarian Fund (CHF), which was key in tackling a cholera outbreak in 2006. In 2007, 10 per cent of the CHF (approximately £70 million, of which DfID's contribution is £40 million) will be set aside for emergency response.