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Volume 716: debated on Thursday 7 January 2010


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My Lords, I am grateful to all noble Lords who will be contributing to the debate at this critical time for Sudan. Tomorrow will be the fifth anniversary of the signing of the comprehensive peace agreement, which has brought some respite from the relentless war unleashed by the National Islamic Front regime after it seized power in 1989—a war that has resulted in 2 million people dead and 4 million displaced. Then the conflict in Darfur erupted, with hundreds of thousands killed, displaced, injured and still suffering in refugee camps. Now there are fears that the CPA will be breached and that the war against the south will be reignited; or that the country will implode, creating chaos and instability.

I will focus first on the urgent need to promote and protect the peace process, and for the international community to encourage all parties to adhere to the provisions regarding the census, the elections and the referendum; and on the need to prepare for the post-referendum scenario, whatever the outcome, and the critical issues of wealth-sharing and power-sharing agreements and security. I will deal, secondly, with the recent violations of the human rights of people in northern Sudan, including the arrest of opposition leaders in Khartoum; thirdly, with the continuing violence in southern Sudan; fourthly, the humanitarian crisis in many regions; fifthly, the continuing suffering of people in Darfur; and sixthly, the plight of people, including the Beja, in marginalised areas such as southern Blue Nile, Abyei, southern Kordofan and eastern Sudan; and finally, slavery.

I will briefly state my own interests. I first worked in Sudan as a nurse in a remote area of desert in northern Kordofan in the 1980s, establishing an immunisation programme in the small township of Hamrat-el-Wiz. After the war erupted in 1989, I returned 30 times to locations in Bahr-el-Ghazal, eastern and western Equatoria, the Nuba mountains, southern Blue Nile, eastern and western Upper Nile and the Kassala region. During that war, Khartoum would regularly announce airstrips open to the UN’s Operation Lifeline Sudan and the closed locations. It would then carry out military offensives in the closed areas so that no one could take aid to the victims or tell the world what it was doing. I focused on those locations, incurring the NIF's displeasure and numerous threats, took aid to civilian victims and obtained evidence of atrocities perpetrated by the NIF, including massacres of civilians, destruction of livestock, villages and crops in a scorched earth policy, and the abduction of tens of thousands of women and children into slavery.

Since the CPA, the small NGO, HART—the Humanitarian Aid Relief Trust—with which I now work, is establishing primary healthcare clinics and helping with agricultural programmes around Yei, rebuilding a school in Bahr-el-Ghazal and supporting war widows in the Nuba mountains. My contribution will therefore reflect some of the first-hand evidence from those areas, and I am most grateful to other noble Lords who will address other issues.

I turn to the CPA and other peace agreements, drawing on a comprehensive report by the International Crisis Group. It states:

“Sudan is sliding towards violent breakup. The main mechanisms to end conflicts between the central government and the peripheries—the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), the Darfur Peace Agreement and the East Sudan Peace Agreement—all suffer from lack of implementation, largely due to the intransigence of the National Congress Party (NCP). Less than thirteen months remain to ensure that national elections and the South Sudan self-determination referendum lead to democratic transformation and resolution of all the country's conflicts. Unless the international community, notably the US, the UN, the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council and the Horn of Africa Inter-Government Authority on Development (IGAD), cooperate to support both CPA implementation and vital additional negotiations, return to North-South war and escalation of conflict in Darfur are likely”.

At the core of the current political crisis are delays in implementing key benchmarks laid out in the CPA. The referendum on independence for the south is due in January 2011. Before then, Sudan must hold national elections. These are set for April 2010, but President Omar al-Bashir's Government have failed to pass key democratic reforms promised by the agreement, and without these, there is no way that the results of the elections can be accepted.

Tensions have been rising between the NCP in the north and the SPLM in the south. In October, the President of southern Sudan, Salva Kiir, for the first time openly called for the south to secede. Both sides are rearming. Another civil war would be devastating for the Sudanese people, as well as for the entire Horn of Africa and other neighbouring countries. The situation was exacerbated on 7 December, when the Khartoum Government arrested and maltreated SPLM leaders and other peaceful protesters who were angered by the NPC’s use of its majority to impose amendments to the crucial referendum law which they deemed totally unacceptable.

But there are some signs of hope. On 29 December, the National Assembly finally adopted the referendum law, and the recent progress of negotiations on the Abyei area referendum and the popular consultations in south Kordofan and Blue Nile regions are positive steps. However, agreements still need to be found on many crucial issues before the referendum takes place, including border demarcation, demilitarisation of border areas and arrangements for security and wealth-sharing, including oil revenues. There is also concern that the donor community has not fulfilled its 2005 commitments. Only a small fraction of the $4.8 billion pledged has reached essential infrastructure projects, as humanitarian aid for Darfur has absorbed most of the money.

Consequently, many parts of southern Sudan and the marginalised areas have been off the radar screen for many major aid organisations and the international media, resulting in largely unreported humanitarian crises. For example, southern Sudan has the lowest immunisation rate in the world. In January last year we were told that only 17 per cent of children are immunised, leaving 83 per cent vulnerable to preventable killer diseases such as polio, tetanus, measles and TB, with one in seven children dying before they reach the age of five. One in seven pregnant women dies as a result of pregnancy-related problems, and a girl is more likely to die in childbirth than she is to finish school. Three years ago, we discovered previously unidentified leprosy in eastern Upper Nile. There has also been a lost generation of children unable to receive education because of constant aerial bombardment. Even now, less than half the children in southern Sudan receive even a basic five-year primary education; and 85 per cent of adults are illiterate, with an even higher figure of 92 per cent for women.

The effects of an infrastructure devastated by war include the desperate need for rebuilding roads, without which people cannot move freely, especially in the rainy season, so people in rural areas cannot reach towns for healthcare or education, or polling stations to vote. Yesterday, I read a welcome announcement that Her Majesty's Government will be giving a very generous donation of £54 million, I think, to Sudan. Of course that is most welcome. However, is the money which the Government are providing through DfID being most effectively used in southern Sudan? One concern recently raised with us was the decision adopted by many aid agencies to change priorities from relief to development. That is understandable, but given the statistics of child and maternal mortality and morbidity, there is clearly still an urgent need for relief aid.

Perhaps I may offer a practical suggestion regarding voting. Will Her Majesty’s Government and the EU press the authorities to arrange polling stations in a mobile form to reach remote rural areas? Otherwise, with no roads and the fear of attack from local militias in unstable areas, many people will effectively be disenfranchised. Can there also be an extension of voting over two days, to enable such mobile stations to reach all remote locations?

Problems of violence and insecurity claimed 2,500 lives last year and displaced 350,000 people. The notorious Lord’s Resistance Army, or LRA, which created havoc and horror in northern Uganda for 20 years, has now been responsible for many deaths, injuries and abductions in southern Sudan; intertribal fighting has been responsible for the rest. There is widespread concern that Khartoum is supporting the LRA and instigating the tribal clashes. Given Khartoum’s support for it in previous years, when it allowed the LRA to operate its brutal military training camps for children abducted from Uganda in NIF-administered territory, suspicions of northern involvement in last year’s deadly confrontations are not unreasonable. To date, no evidence has been found, but there is an urgent need for confidence-building measures if such conflicts are not to exacerbate instability and undermine the peace process.

For example, would Her Majesty’s Government use their influence to encourage the United Nations Mission in Sudan to undertake a more proactive civilian protection role, in accordance with its mandate, and to define more clearly the circumstances under which it will provide protection with appropriate intervention rather than mere observation? Darfur remains cause for grave concern. Tens of thousands of displaced Darfuris still suffer extreme deprivation in harsh conditions in camps, and I am grateful to my noble friend Lord Alton who will be speaking on that continuing tragedy.

In other regions of Sudan, the people continue to suffer the after effects of war and continuing political challenges. Last year I visited southern Kordofan, formerly known as the Nuba mountains, a name which is still preferred by the local people. The area is now governed from Khartoum and the peoples in the SPLM-administered areas describe systematic discrimination. For example, they have a desperate need for education but claim that the resources being made available from Khartoum are limited to schools in the Islamic tradition. Even the Muslims who live in those areas are deeply unhappy, as they wish their children to receive the more broadly-based southern Sudan or east African curricula. There is also an acute shortage of healthcare and provision for vulnerable people such as war widows.

Other marginalised peoples continue to suffer humanitarian crises. For example, the plight of the Beja people in eastern Sudan remains so serious that the southern Sudanese, whose own predicament is dire, undertook an investigation and claimed that the Beja people’s plight is even worse than their own. Can the Minister say whether EU and DfID funding therefore includes appropriate weighting to provide essential assistance to those all-too-often forgotten people in the marginalised areas?

Finally, I turn to the still unresolved problem of the systematic abduction of tens of thousands of African civilians, mainly from Bahr-el-Ghazal and the Nuba mountains, during the 1980s and 1990s. For some years, many major international organisations denied the existence of slavery in Sudan. However, Gaspar Biro, the UN special rapporteur, confirmed the reality and subsequently many reports, books and documentary films, including a BBC “Everyman” programme, have testified to that inhuman and large-scale practice of slavery, supported by Khartoum. The slave raids, the after effects of which I witnessed many times, were perpetrated by combined forces of government soldiers, mujaheddin jihad warriors and the murahaleen local tribesmen, who swept through the countryside, generally killing the men and abducting women and children.

My first encounter was typical. In Nyamlell in Bahr-el-Ghazal in the early 1990s, 82 men had been killed and their bodies thrown into a mass grave and 282 women and children had been abducted. We were able to assist with the rescue of many hundreds of women and children and their stories were heartbreaking. Some are recorded in a book on modern day slavery which I wrote with my colleague Professor Marks. I shall put a copy in your Lordships’ Library in case any of your Lordships would be interested to read the evidence. Eventually an organisation was established in Khartoum, CEWAC, to identify and repatriate those enslaved. But it is estimated that there are still tens of thousands in captivity. In the past few months, I have met two people, one an Anglican priest, who know they have relatives still enslaved in the north. But, as the priest said with infinite sadness:

“I cannot go to rescue my brother. I will just be killed and no one will be able to do anything about it”.

When I had the privilege last year of meeting the President of southern Sudan, Salva Kiir, and other southern leaders, they acknowledged this tragic situation, but with so many problems related to the CPA, this is an “issue too far” for them to raise. However, they did ask us to urge the international community to press Khartoum to ensure the urgent identification, repatriation and rehabilitation of all still in captivity in the north. I ask the Minister to raise this issue.

I greatly look forward to the Minister’s reply. Along with other noble Lords, I have great respect for her commitment to justice, peace and freedom in Africa and beyond that great continent. I believe that she may be visiting Sudan in the near future and I hope that this debate will be helpful in the important discussions which she will be holding with the leaders there.

The Sudanese people always look to the United Kingdom to play a special leadership role, given our historic involvement and responsibility. I hope that this debate will demonstrate our commitment to provide that help and that it will be a source of encouragement; a sign of true friendship; and a support for all in Sudan who are seeking to achieve the peace, freedom and justice which they so urgently need and so richly deserve. I beg to move.

My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Cox, for initiating this debate. Achieving peace and stability in any region that has been ravaged by war and has a wealth of cultural differences is always a challenge. In this region of Africa, the task is that much greater as these variations are coupled with intense poverty and tribal intolerance. Since independence from Britain in 1956 and the subsequent civil war, Sudanese politics has been characterised by violence, ethnic and religious prejudice. Sudan’s vast area, 133 languages and mineral wealth should have given it great responsibility and influence. It has yet to rise to this challenge.

National elections in Sudan are scheduled to take place in April this year. The continent’s longest civil war formally ceased with the ratification in Kenya of the 2005 comprehensive peace agreement. The CPA has been successful in returning thousands of refugees and internally displaced persons to southern Sudan. The agreement has enjoyed further success with the creation of the Abyei Boundary Commission. The comprehensive peace agreement will expire in July 2011.

It is encouraging to see that the vice-president of Sudan and his counterpart in southern Sudan have reached an agreement on increasing the allocation of seats in the National Assembly for southern Sudan. The recent approvals of the southern Sudanese referendum law and legislation that will determine the future of the Abyei region are also positive developments. Both Governments must now agree to accept the results of these imminent elections. Southern Sudan will vote in January 2011 on secession. The Sudan People’s Liberation Movement has expressed its concern about a clause in the Bill that would allow the use of absentee ballots for southerners who live outside the territory. A census produced by the Sudanese Government suggests that over half a million southerners live in northern Sudan at present. This figure has been disputed by a number of officials in the south.

The Government of southern Sudan have welcomed the Abyei Referendum Bill. Residents of the Abyei region, which has significant mineral wealth, will be able to decide whether to continue as part of northern Sudan in the southern Korfordan state or to revert back to being part of southern Sudan. This decision has not been welcomed by all southerners. Representatives from the Misseriya tribe of Abyei have asked President al-Bashir not to ratify the Abyei referendum law. The Misseriya group in the National Assembly left the Parliament in protest before the Bill was announced, as the Bill does not give the Misseriya people the right to vote. Some members of the tribe see this as discrimination and have pledged to disrupt the result of the vote if the Bill is not amended in their favour. The Speaker of the Assembly has stated that the Bill would not be amended and participation in the Abyei vote is the decision of the commission, which will be chosen by the National Congress Party and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement. Members of the SPLM have argued that the comprehensive peace agreement only grants the Misseriya people access to water and grazing for their cattle.

This dispute reflects the extent to which Sudan is a fractured state. The complex nature of this disagreement should serve as a reminder to the international community that Sudanese politics should not be viewed in simplistic regional terms. Tribal divisions within the SPLM have also contributed to the volatile situation in southern Sudan. Violence in the region resulted in 1,200 deaths last year. Most of the unrest has occurred in Jonglei, which is the biggest state in the south, and hostilities among southerners could cause the election in 2011 to be postponed. The Government of southern Sudan must take steps to improve security in the region to avoid the outbreak of a civil war. The current climate in the region suggests that more efforts should be made to bring extra security to southern Sudan. Does the Minister agree that the African Union could play a vital role in bringing peace to the region? If so, what steps will the Government take to support an enhanced role for the union?

I welcome the decision taken last month by Chad and Sudan to renew discussions about promoting peace on their mutual border after years of tense relations. I am optimistic that the meeting scheduled to take place in Chad today will result in a significant breakthrough for the security of the region. The historic context of diplomatic difficulties between Chad and Sudan has its foundations in the Darfuri conflict and ethnic identity. Tribal identity is at the heart of the unrest that has devastated this region. The obvious lack of confidence of the citizens in the state and the constant struggle for food, land and resources have caused some people to seek militia groups rather than the Government for protection. The Janjaweed in particular bypasses national divisions to recruit members along tribal lines. An improvement in relations between Chad and Sudan will contribute to achieving peace in Darfur, where approximately 300,000 people have died since hostilities began in 2003. Darfur has resulted in 3 million people being displaced, a number of whom have crossed the border into eastern Chad.

The instability in the region also has implications for the elephant population in Chad. Janjaweed militiamen have been raiding Zakouma National Park and areas surrounding the shared border, killing elephants for their ivory. As a consequence, the elephant population in the park has been significantly reduced. The profits gained from selling ivory have helped the Janjaweed and other militias to purchase weapons and to finance their operations in Chad and Sudan.

The activities of the Lord’s Resistance Army in the region have caused a number of refugees to seek asylum in both Chad and Sudan. The terror unleashed by the LRA is one of the main stumbling blocks to peace in the region. The United Nations was forced to suspend humanitarian work in Sudan near the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo as a result of sustained attacks from the Ugandan LRA rebels. The LRA and other militias in that region have unashamedly abused women and children in their quest for power. The international community must put greater pressure on the Sudanese Government to implement the recommendations made as a result of the Doha peace process and the Sudan People’s Initiative. A successful resolution of violence in Darfur will become a reality only if regional dialogue among the neighbouring countries is implemented. There are humanitarian implications, with widespread malnutrition among infants and a scarcity of resources as a whole.

The progress that Sudan has made in the last few weeks is to be commended. Greater challenges lie ahead over the next 12 months. We have a duty as part of the international community to assist both Sudanese Governments in making sure that all elections held over the next year are free and fair. The Abyei dispute must be monitored to ensure that it does not result in violence between the Ngok Dinka and Misseriya tribes. Tribalism is viewed as far superior to nationalism in this region. We must therefore respect this outlook in our dealings with all groups in Sudan.

Sudan is the largest country in Africa. We have a historic connection with Sudan. We need to continue to work towards resolving the political, tribal and humanitarian problems in order to achieve peace and prosperity not only in Sudan but in Africa as a whole. With regard to humanitarian issues, I declare that I am the chairman of the Sheikh Abdullah Foundation and that my charity has undertaken humanitarian work in Sudan. The Muslim charities in the United Kingdom have now agreed to work in harmony when carrying out aid work in Sudan and I hope that we can all undertake good work there.

My Lords, I too congratulate the noble Baroness, Lady Cox, on introducing this debate, and on the comprehensive manner in which she has given us an overview of the situation. I hope that I can reinforce many of the points that she has made.

Peace in Sudan remains very fragile. In 2009 alone, violent conflict claimed some 2,500 lives in southern Sudan and displaced more than 350,000 people, almost double the figure for 2008. The latest reports from the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs confirm that the LRA continues to destabilise most of Western Equatoria State in southern Sudan. Internal fighting has intensified, resulting in massive displacements, abductions of children, gruesome injuries and huge death tolls.

As the noble Lord, Lord Sheikh, mentioned, the Ugandan LRA rebels are a key threat to the relative calm established by the 2005 comprehensive peace agreement. The collapse of the CPA, should it happen, would likely revitalise the LRA as a force that could easily destabilise both Sudan and the whole region. The re-emergence of the LRA in different parts of southern Sudan may force the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement to consider an appropriate riposte, according to some military sources in southern Sudan. In that regard, there are growing concerns over reports that a number of LRA splinter groups are continuing to move unchecked across the region, terrorising civilians in northern DRC, parts of the Central African Republic and Sudan.

It is of course important that the door be kept open for the diplomatic approach, but attempts by the UN special envoy to the LRA-affected areas, Joaquim Chissano, to effectively engage the LRA high command have apparently failed so far. With the final refusal of Joseph Kony to sign the Juba peace agreement, there is now a greater acceptance that a targeted and strategic military approach may be the best of a bad set of options, although always preferably combined with a diplomatic approach.

Much more needs to be done to apprehend the key LRA leaders and, in doing so, weaken the command and control and leadership of that movement. In October 2009 the European Council issued a statement calling for the LRA to honour its commitment to sign the final peace agreement and stressing the necessity of a comprehensive approach to defining a solution to LRA-related problems. On 17 November 2009 the UN Security Council, of which the UK is a permanent member, called for a better co-ordinated strategy between UN forces in the DRC, in the Central African Republic and in Sudan to protect civilians against further LRA attacks.

The Government have stated that they support legislation currently going through the US Congress, the Lord’s Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act, which in part aims to target and apprehend Joseph Kony and LRA top commanders. Informed sources have confirmed that military intelligence is available within the international community to pinpoint his location. While the failure to acknowledge that facility may neatly avoid any commitment to the Security Council and, on the ground, to the resources needed to secure his apprehension, failure to act is allowing the LRA to regroup and flourish.

Will the Government commit to comprehensively reviewing how they could contribute intelligence and logistical support to a careful and credible apprehension strategy? How could they better bring pressure to bear on the LRA to accept a peaceful solution? Will the Government then work for a unified military approach to tackling the LRA, working with other EU member Governments to apprehend and remove Kony and the top LRA commanders, therefore ensuring stability to the wider region? What representations will the Government make to the United Nations Security Council in order to support a more co-ordinated approach to tackling the LRA across the region?

Simply commending regional states that are targeting the LRA is not sufficient. What is required is targeted and strategic action. Recent successes—for example, the death, reportedly at the hands of Ugandan forces, of the second-in-command of the LRA, Bok Abudema, and the surrender of “Captain” Ocen—are positive signs, but continued and increasing acts of violence against civilians in Sudan, the DRC and the Central African Republic are proof that removing just one or two key individuals is not enough.

The report from the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in December records that in the three months to March 2009 a series of 27 confirmed attacks were carried out by LRA elements in Western and Central Equatoria, including attacks on 19 villages and four vehicle ambushes. More than 80 villagers were killed, with many others injured, mutilated, raped, abducted and forced to work as child soldiers and sex slaves. Villages were destroyed and more than 38,000 people displaced near the border with the DRC. LRA groups entered southern Sudan after a joint military offensive against them by the Ugandan and Congolese armies in December 2008. In recent months LRA attacks have resulted in a further 135 deaths and 67,000 people driven from their homes. Attacks are now extending to looting food distribution points, where the LRA is also abducting children and young women.

The cross-border nature of the LRA is a clear threat to international peace and security in the region. There is a growing concern among NGOs such as the Enough Project that the UN Security Council has yet to take seriously its responsibility to protect civilians from the LRA, and to put in place an effective counterinsurgency strategy. There is a growing call for the UN Security Council to authorise, and for member states to resource, a comprehensive strategy to protect civilians in LRA-affected areas, to identify and sever external lines of support, to increase opportunities for rank-and-file fighters to defect and to end the insurgency once and for all through more effective military pressure on LRA leader Joseph Kony and his high command. Through what means do the Government plan to target and sensitise LRA fighters in order to encourage them to disarm, demobilise, repatriate, resettle and reintegrate, commonly known as DDRRR?

The Government are contributing £400,000 to MONUC's DDRRR effort, part of which will be spent targeting the LRA. Can the Minister provide a breakdown of how this money will be used to target the LRA? Given the Security Council's recent statement that it would like to see a more unified, regional approach to combating the LRA, how do the Government intend to support UNMIS, as they have pledged to support MONUC, to target and apprehend LRA fighters and protect civilians?

The Government have committed to encouraging MONUC to increase its presence in LRA affected areas. Given the porous nature of the borders between the DRC, Sudan and the Central African Republic, and the regional aspect that LRA movements have taken in recent years, it would seem necessary to adopt a similar approach with UN forces in southern Sudan. What plans do the Government have to support an increased civilian presence in Sudan?

DDRRR efforts led by MONUC in the DRC have been successful to an extent but have not prevented new LRA recruits from being either abducted or simply recruited from the civilian population. To be effective, DDRRR must be accompanied by a strategic and targeted military approach that will prevent LRA command structures operating effectively and will weaken co-ordination and recruitment. Do the Government recognise the need for a multipronged approach to the LRA problem, and if so what plans do they have to approach the problem from both military and DDRRR points of view? I hope that the noble Baroness can comment on how this policy might be affected by the £54 million that has just been pledged for the forthcoming elections.

According to the report by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in December 2009, evidence suggests that LRA actions during attacks in the early part of that year,

“may amount to crimes against humanity”.

The high commissioner notes that under the statute of the International Criminal Court, murder, enslavement, imprisonment, torture, rape and sexual slavery are all considered to be crimes against humanity if carried out,

“as part of a systematic attack directed against any civilian population”.

He calls for Governments in the region to co-operate with the ICC to apprehend the LRA leaders. What steps are the UK Government taking, as a member of the international community, to co-operate with the International Criminal Court and with Governments in the region to search for, arrest and surrender the LRA leaders accused of crimes against humanity and war crimes under the Rome statute?

The United Kingdom is a member of the troika of the UK, US and Norway, and is a guarantor of the comprehensive peace agreement. Therefore, what steps are the Government taking, and what have they taken so far, to ensure that the LRA is not allowed to become a threat to the peace process in Sudan by threatening local populations and therefore impacting on the implementation of the CPA?

A new International Crisis Group report, which I believe the noble Lord, Lord Sheikh, mentioned, notes that the failure to stabilise Jonglei and other areas of concern risks seeing south Sudan become increasingly unstable ahead of next year's national elections and the planned 2011 self-determination referendum. Intertribal fighting has taken on a new and dangerously politicised character, with the worst violence in and around the vast, often impassable, state of Jonglei. The escalation of violence has deepened divisions among its communities and leaders, some of whom may be manipulating conflicts to their own ends.

Action is needed now to stop the LRA becoming stronger and more uncontrollable—a threat underlined by reports that the LRA is now being sponsored by the Government of northern Sudan in much the same way as the Janjaweed. In this context, the Government of southern Sudan need to tackle the inability or unwillingness of the police to address domestic security issues, of which the LRA must be a prime concern. Police reform must become a greater priority in southern Sudan. The United Nations mission in Sudan should undertake a more proactive civilian protection role, as set out in its mandate, and better define the circumstances under which it will provide protection. That apart, there are serious concerns about the integrity of the forthcoming election process. Notwithstanding the difficulties mentioned earlier by the noble Baroness about accessing polling stations, voter registration has been greatly delayed. It has proved extremely difficult to motivate and organise people to register, which does not augur well for the success of future elections and referenda.

Finally, there is a pressing need to ensure local stability to work towards regional recovery and development. Without an active peace process, a commitment to increasing accountability for crimes committed against civilians, a fully deployed, equipped and performing UN/AU peacekeeping force, and serious planning for regional recovery, the situation across southern Sudan will continue to fester, destabilising the country and the region.

My Lords, I am sure the House will be agreed on three points: first, our gratitude to the noble Baroness, Lady Cox, for having given us an opportunity to debate this important subject today and our respect for her personal experience and consistent interest in the people of Sudan; secondly, that we ought all to be sending a message of solidarity to the front-line workers in southern Sudan and Sudan as a whole who carry so many burdens on our behalf and do it so effectively, with so much commitment; and thirdly, how good it is to see my noble friend handling this issue on the Front Bench—nobody can question her long-standing commitment to the people of Africa. I understand that she may soon be going to visit southern Sudan. When she does, I hope she will take the opportunity to meet with and hear the insights of NGOs such as Oxfam and Saferworld—in which I declare an interest as a trustee—which are anxious to share with her what they are discovering.

This month sees the fifth anniversary of the comprehensive peace agreement. It is, therefore, sad that it is faltering so badly. There is an urgent need for the troika—the UK, the US and Norway—to re-energise it. The US, of course, has a lead role, but I believe that the UK must now become a catalyst and my noble friend is exactly the person to ensure that this happens. We have to learn from history. A re-energised comprehensive agreement must not be seen as an end in itself. What follows in terms of economic and social progress and human rights is what matters, and this will demand resources and sophisticated support from the international community.

Similarly, the result of the 2011 referendum on secession of the south must not be seen as an end in itself. Unless it is to contain the seeds of renewed bitter conflict, the context in which it takes place will be vital. For example, there will have to be absolute clarity about where exactly the north/south border lies and about arrangements for sharing and handling oil revenues, together with convincing arrangements for both north and south on dependence on Port Sudan as the exit point for exports.

I vividly recall that I was in south Sudan in 1983, on a visit as the director of VSO, when the garrison down the road from Juba rebelled. General Garang had been recalled from his PhD studies in the States to try to persuade the garrison to behave itself. I was staying at an FAO project. General Garang arrived when the rebellion took place. It was interesting then to see that he was actively debating with himself and those immediately around him whether to stay with the Government of Sudan or take the road that he did take of leading the SPLA and the independence movement.

That was almost 30 years ago, and it is more than 50 years since the bitter dispute began. It is difficult to envisage the pain, suffering, slaughter and bereavement which is the terrible reality of this dreadful saga. As we have been reminded, 2009 was the most violent year since the comprehensive peace agreement was signed, with 2,500 people killed and 350,000—I repeat, 350,000—people displaced. Meanwhile the poverty remains acute: one in seven pregnant women will die; one in seven children under five will die; less than 50 per cent of the population has access to safe water. We cannot compare the national neurosis about our current cold spell with challenges of that scale.

Against this background, it is troubling that the World Bank multidimensional fund is evidently not being dispersed as effectively as it might be. Front-line NGOs are seriously short of funds for the sustainable long-term work which they desperately want to do, as distinct from the short-term relief projects which come their way. As the noble Baroness stressed, roads are a critical element in this.

Yesterday afternoon I was able to have a personal briefing by Maya Mailer, the Oxfam policy adviser in Juba. She had returned on Tuesday from the searing heat of Juba to the snarled-up, frozen London for a brief working visit. It was a first-class but very challenging briefing. Later today, in Committee Room 4A, she, together with representatives of other organisations, will be presenting a report on the situation which they have just prepared.

The insights of those working on the front line lead me to make the following observations, which I hope my noble friend will take on board and respond to. While the Government of south Sudan are right to be concerned about the need to disarm the civil population, how realistic is it to overconcentrate on this in the total absence of effective human security? Surely the provision of convincing human security must be the first priority, although I recognise the chicken and egg dimensions of this. The situation is complex and confused. In Jonglei state alone, traditional cattle raiding has escalated into vicious attacks on whole communities and is made all the more devastating by the widespread presence of AK-47s, machine guns and grenades. The SPLA uniforms worn by some of the participants suggest that SPLA deserters have been opting to join their kin.

The noble Lord, Lord Chidgey, referred to the Lord’s Resistance Army, which is involved in sinister and far-reaching destabilisation across the region as a whole. Children who should be at school are instead joining the so-called Arrow Boys, endeavouring to resist the LRA and protect their communities. One thing is sure: if human security is to be achieved, the international community must act resolutely and fast on the control of arms trafficking and the flow of arms into conflict regions such as this. The objective of an arms trade treaty is highly relevant in this context. There is also an urgent need for a regional strategy in dealing with the cruel presence of the LRA, whose real motivation has so far escaped analysis.

More generally in Sudan as a whole, there are other issues on which the policy of my noble friend and HMG will be important. I shall list them briefly. There is a need for independent assessments to be conducted throughout—I emphasise throughout—northern Sudan. These are also badly needed along the north/south border in order to pinpoint gaps in humanitarian assistance and basic services. There are similar requirements in the east. Apparently the current joint communiqué and subsequent monitoring system in effect apply only to Darfur. Similar agreements are a necessity for the rest of northern Sudan. The UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs and the resident co-ordinator’s support office should be strongly supported by the international community in achieving these.

There is a need for the high-level committee to hold the Government of Sudan to account for their commitments to remove bureaucratic impediments and for their responsibility to ensure that commitments made at the federal level are turned into realities at the state level. There is also the imperative of ensuring that humanitarian services in northern Sudan are delivered to their targeted beneficiaries in an independent, neutral and impartial manner. In this context it is important not to let rest the inexplicable expulsion of certain key international NGOs such as Oxfam UK and to insist that the Government of Sudan should stop their internal and external misinformation campaigns and negative propaganda, enabling such agencies to return. I always recall that, when I was director of Oxfam, we realised that what we called in one of our publications on Central America “the threat of a good example” was invariably one of the most difficult challenges for illiberal, authoritarian regimes.

There is also the need for the UN donors and diplomats in Khartoum, through both the high-level committee and bilateral discussions, to persuade the Government of Sudan to accept a clear definition of humanitarian assistance, which includes the vital task of protection. The urgency of recognising that UNAMID must have a greater capacity to protect civilians and increase security to ensure humanitarian access cannot be ignored. Quick-impact operations can blur the ongoing civil-military imperative. UNAMID has a key role in protecting humanitarian assets and personnel. In the total absence of alternatives, it also has to increase its role in the protection of civil populations by more patrolling of roads, towns and internally displaced camps. Its monitoring of human rights and human protection issues through its civilian and police elements is an essential part of this. However, if we will this, we have to will the resources for it to happen.

The UN mission in Sudan must be supported in putting its core mandate—namely, monitoring CPA security arrangements—more effectively into action. When the mandate of the UN mission is renewed this coming April, it would be unforgivable if the opportunity was not seized to reinforce its responsibility for civil protection. However, again, if we understand it and will it, the provision of adequate resources is an essential obligation. The situation on the ground is far too grim for playing intellectual, theoretical policy games on the international stage. Those involved internationally have, above all, strenuously to continue to seek and facilitate a cessation of hostilities, followed by an effective, monitored ceasefire which brings on board all major parties to the conflict. This is indispensable if human security and humanitarian access to people in need is to be ensured.

Finally, in all that we do we must constantly remember that, ultimately, sustained and enduring stability can be ensured only by the people of north and south Sudan, the wider region as a whole and their Governments. They have to own the solutions; the absence of such ownership contains the seed of inevitable failure. We must, therefore, constantly ensure that we are in the long run—and it will be a long run—enabling and not disempowering. One day we will all have to learn across the world that peace and security can only be painstakingly and patiently built; they cannot be imposed. We have all the time to remember that if we will the end, we must will the means. It is good that HMG take this point and are determined to pursue it.

It gives me great pleasure to join others in congratulating my noble friend Lady Cox on once again raising in your Lordships’ House the long-standing suffering of the people of Sudan. I will speak about two issues: the situation—following the speeches of other noble Lords in this debate—in southern Sudan and the situation in Darfur. I remind the House of my non-financial interest as honorary secretary of the Associate Parliamentary Group for Sudan.

This debate is a particularly timely curtain-raiser, as that group will next week begin a series of hearings that will provide an opportunity to examine the fragile comprehensive peace agreement. There will be written and oral evidence from all the major players, including the Governments of north and south Sudan, international agencies and the Department for International Development, whose biggest programme in the world is in Sudan. A report will subsequently be published, focusing on the key challenges facing Sudan. I know that the Minister, the noble Baroness, Lady Kinnock, has welcomed this initiative, which will reinforce the distinctive British policy in Sudan. As my noble friend has said to the House, we should never underestimate the crucial role that Britain plays in Sudan, or the high regard in which Sudanese people hold the United Kingdom. The Minister has herself taken a long-standing interest in these issues—we collaborated while she was a Member of the European Parliament in highlighting the unfolding tragedy in Darfur. She and her predecessor as the Minister responsible for Africa, the noble Lord, Lord Malloch-Brown, have shown tireless commitment to the continent.

Sudan has the largest landmass in Africa. I first visited southern Sudan during the civil war, when John Garang’s Sudan People’s Liberation Movement took me to see some of the ravaged areas, devastated by 21 years of aerial bombardment, and which led to 2 million deaths and 4 million displaced people. I visited the Ilemi triangle and southern Sudan again last year. Following the January 2005 CPA and Garang’s death, the SPLM has been led by Salva Kiir Mayardit, the president of southern Sudan, and vice-president of Sudan. He has had to face the massive legacy of that war, with acute needs for most basic services, including, as we have heard, healthcare, agricultural production and education. He has also had to face the complexities of a society comprised of a population of around 15 million people, with more than 200 ethnic groups.

The challenges, as the noble Lord, Lord Judd, has reminded us, are daunting. Last year, the south’s immunisation programme reached just one in five, while there are a mere 20 secondary schools serving the whole region. Less than half the population has access to safe drinking water, and, as my noble friend has told the House, pregnant women in southern Sudan have a greater chance of dying from pregnancy-related complications than a woman almost anywhere else in the world. One in seven children will die before their fifth birthday. Close to 90 per cent of southern Sudanese women cannot read or write. Humanitarian agencies lack the capacity to reach people in need. In a region that is around the size of France, there are less than 50 kilometres of tarmac roads, and those centre on the capital, Juba. In the long rainy seasons, many rural locations are unreachable by road or air for weeks at a time.

In addressing these considerable needs, southern Sudan has been relying not just on aid from countries such as our own—I join others in welcoming the support that Her Majesty’s Government give—but also on oil revenues to assist in its efforts to build its infrastructure. However, in a report last September, Fuelling Mistrust, Global Witness found that oil figures published by the Khartoum Government do not match those from other sources, and concluded that there is insufficient oversight of oil revenues. Another report suggested that $266 million of oil arrears was outstanding. Perhaps today the Minister can tell us the current position in respect of these desperately needed resources.

The House may be aware that earlier today 10 major non-governmental organisations—including Oxfam, Christian Aid, Tearfund, Caritas, World Vision, Save the Children and the International Rescue Committee—issued a briefing paper entitled Rescuing the Peace in Southern Sudan. The House will look forward to hearing from the Minister about the Government’s response to the recommendations and conclusions of those NGOs. They describe the situation in the south as “fragile”, and they warn:

“The next 12 months will be critical for the future of Sudan … With landmark elections and a referendum on the horizon, the peace deal is fragile and the violence likely to escalate even further unless there is urgent international engagement”.

Already there are worrying signs that Khartoum will seek to deny Sudanese people a chance to take part in fair and free elections. Only yesterday the political secretary of the National Congress, Professor Ibrahim Ghandour, said that the United Nations has “no right”—I stress that—to observe the coming elections. It would be helpful if the Minister would say something about independent monitoring of the elections and the provision of facilities such as the mobile election units that my noble friend referred to earlier; she might also mention the provision of a United Nations-sponsored radio station that could broadcast to the whole of Sudan during the run-up to the elections, disseminating much-needed information.

Despite the enormous challenges that Sudan faces, the political leadership in the south must be commended for its efforts to safeguard autonomy and to develop models of good governance and in particular for the improvements made in the treatment of minorities. This is all in stark contrast with the persecution and systemic abuses of human rights that characterise the policies of the Government of Omar al-Bashir in the north. Earlier this week, the Open Society Institute raised the cases of Sudanese human rights campaigners forced to flee Khartoum. Perhaps the Minister can tell us whether Her Majesty’s Government are satisfied that they are meeting their obligations to implement the 2008 EU guidelines on human rights defenders.

Despite all of these significant issues, it is worth noting that the 10 NGOs that I mentioned suggest that although,

“Sudan faces many interlocking challenges … if the international community acts now, they are surmountable”.

Surely the greatest of those challenges remains, as so many of your Lordships have said, the problem of conflict and insecurity. Instability and violence in the south has been fuelled by a number of contributory factors. The promised peace dividends have been slow to materialise and this is breeding disillusionment, which has replaced the initial post-war euphoria. In this climate, warlords and sectarian leaders have emerged. This inflammatory situation, in which 2,500 people have been killed and 350,000 displaced during 2009, has been ruthlessly exploited by Khartoum and its agents.

In a briefing for today's debate, the international agency, Saferworld, says that the Government of southern Sudan,

“continues to be driven by the belief that a renewed confrontation with the north is likely; this perception dominates its security thinking”.

Saferworld points to the other danger to Sudan's peace process: escalating violence and insecurity among the south's diverse inhabitants. When the Minister comes to reply, perhaps she could say what is being done to develop southern Sudan's security and civil institutions.

Khartoum's hand is frequently found stirring tension and rivalry and inciting violence via its proxies. The north's belligerence and in particular its collaboration with the Lord's Resistance Army, led by Joseph Kony, about which we have heard so much, and which has been turned into a significant actor within the region, have continued to result in horrific violence in Sudan, northern Uganda and other neighbouring countries. This notoriously vicious rebel group continues to wreak havoc—since the end of 2008 alone, the LRA has displaced close to 70,000 southern Sudanese in Western and Central Equatoria states and led to an influx of some 18,000 refugees from the neighbouring DRC.

Within the last few weeks the LRA have carried out gruesome attacks in Ezo, Nzara, Yambio, Tambura, Nagero and Ibba counties. The attacks are always characterised by abductions, killings and looting. Let me refer to an extract from the joint NGO report published today:

“The unpredictable nature and brutality of the LRA attacks has sent waves of fear through Western Equatoria, the most badly hit area. With its fertile soils and relatively educated population, this should have been one of the first states in southern Sudan to thrive after the CPA. Instead, some communities are too frightened to stay in their villages or venture into the fields to cultivate. As a result, rural school enrolment has declined, and normally productive farming families are going hungry. To defend themselves against LRA attacks, communities have formed voluntary youth militia armed with traditional weapons. According to community accounts, the presence of these ‘Arrow Boys’ has provided a sense of security. But the reliance on a militia, which includes children among its ranks, is extremely worrying and is a sign of the inability of the GoSS security forces and the UN peacekeeping mission (UNMIS) to protect civilians”.

In a letter that I, the noble Lord, Lord Chidgey, the noble Baroness, Lady Chalker of Wallasey, and the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Winchester, along with Mr Eric Joyce, MP, sent to the noble Baroness on 4 November, we argued:

“LRA attacks exacerbate underlying political and ethnic tensions and have the potential to destroy advances made in the development of democratic government—and it neutralises the considerable investment of UK aid”.

In her reply of 8 December, the Minister admitted:

“The LRA continue to undermine efforts to provide humanitarian and other assistance in parts of South-Sudan ... The insecurity they create also risks hampering local level preparations and conduct of the 2010 elections and the Referendum in 2011”.

The Minister told us that Ban Ki-Moon,

“is also considering establishing a regional office to focus on the LRA”.

Perhaps the noble Baroness can today tell us where we have reached in this process. Are we raising within the Security Council the proxy role of the LRA, which has a clear and deadly intent to sabotage any stability or progress in southern Sudan? Will she also propose that the Security Council strengthen the civilian protection mandate of the UN mission in Sudan by increasing its operational presence, establishing a comprehensive civilian protection and conflict monitoring system, and creating rapid response capabilities for conflict-prone zones?

In her letter, the Minister cited the potentially positive impact of Senator Russ Feingold’s Lord's Resistance Army Disarmament Bill. Perhaps she can tell us what progress this is making and what is being done to create a coherent regional strategy to deal with the LRA. Her Majesty's Government could do worse than to appoint a special envoy—perhaps someone of the calibre of the Minister’s predecessor, the noble Lord, Lord Malloch-Brown—to spearhead our policy in a region which has seen the loss of more than 7 million lives in the past couple of decades: Africa's World War 1.

We should never forget that the indictments against Omar al-Bashir and Joseph Kony are against war criminals responsible for crimes against humanity. Louis-Moreno Ocampo and the International Criminal Court deserve much more robust support from the world's political leaders than they have received thus far. The intelligence community should spare no effort to apprehend the leaders of the LRA.

We also ought to be doing more to ensure not just that we bring about disarmament, but that we stop the flow of arms into this deadly region. The weapons of mass destruction in Sudan are the hundreds of thousands of foreign-made deadly small arms. In a report issued last month, it was claimed that “transport and brokering actors” come,

“from a range of other states, including European ones, despite the EU embargo, which prohibits ‘brokering services, financing and other related services’”.

It points to European actors, including British companies and citizens, which have been involved in that. What are the Government doing about this? What are we doing to encourage China to stop supplying arms to Sudan? The acquisition of arms by Khartoum, which already has 470,000 weapons in its security forces and 2 million in the hands of civilians around the country, grievously adds to arms proliferation and insecurity. Millions have been killed in this part of Africa. If ever there is to be long-term peace and reconciliation, there must be a determination to secure justice and security.

In Darfur, 400,000 people have been killed, 2 million have been displaced and 90 per cent of the villages have been razed to the ground. There is no timetable or mechanism equivalent to the CPA. There is no durable peace agreement with Chad. The UN's proclaimed doctrine of a “duty to protect” has frequently been made a mockery of. We must concentrate our efforts on all these issues.

In our generation, conflict has led to 7 million deaths in Sudan, Congo, Rwanda and Uganda. We should be indebted to my noble friend for ensuring that we never lose sight of this appalling carnage. It is without parallel anywhere in the world.

My Lords, we owe our thanks to the noble Baroness, Lady Cox. I also pay tribute to her for all the work that she has put in over many years. She has helped to keep this important country, Sudan, in the public eye.

Sudan is generally seen by the media as a trouble spot, but we must also remember, as the noble Baroness said, that there are signs of hope. The threat of a return to civil war has undoubtedly served as a deterrent and has renewed the commitment of both sides to a comprehensive agreement, imperfect as it may be. The latest agreement on the Abyei ballot is an example of this determination to move forward. The south has gradually developed its autonomy, while the north has enjoyed prosperity—as yet, not shared equally with the south. In the east, Chad and Sudan have reached an agreement to monitor the border and expel rebel groups.

The framework of a peaceful transition to good governance is there, ready to be used as soon as the parties show enough willingness to use it. The international community, in my view, is doing its utmost to help to implement the CPA and, as the noble Lord, Lord Judd, said, it must be down to the Sudanese themselves to move as smoothly as possible towards the elections and the referendum.

As Ashraf Qazi, the Secretary-General's special representative and head of the UN mission, said a few days ago, this year will be critical. He continued:

“As far as possible, each and every Sudanese will need to make every effort, both individually and collectively, to contribute to the success of the CPA, which will be measured, above all, by the extent to which it brings about, consolidates and sustains peace”.

Those are wise words. He would also recognise the key role of the churches in this success. It is a pleasure to look forward to the speech of the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Bradford, although we are sorry not to have his colleague from Salisbury here.

There are problems right at the centre of the CPA and the most serious of these is wealth-sharing, which is absolutely fundamental to the success of the agreement and above all to the political trust that must be invested on either side. Sudan is potentially a rich nation—it is the third largest producer of oil after Nigeria and Angola with about 500,000 barrels per day. However, the north-south border, along which many of Sudan's oil fields lie, has still not been drawn and the status of Abyei and the other central states, Blue Nile and South Kordofan, is still not clear.

The whole question of the survival of the south as an autonomous state depends on a post-2011 wealth-sharing agreement. This must therefore be developed now. The terms of the CPA were agreed on the basis of a unified state, and will go rapidly out of date during the course of this year unless something is put in their place. With pipelines running as they are, the north will hardly give up its oil fields lightly.

There are, however, many technical difficulties, not least in determining how much oil there is. Most of the old oil companies have left. Out of the 15 oil companies remaining, only three—from China, Malaysia and India—control 88 per cent of oil production. The China National Petroleum Company takes 57 per cent of exports.

I have a number of questions for the Minister at this point, although I recognise that she may have to wait until she has returned from Sudan; I wish her well in that visit. Given the large and growing economic influence of China, what estimate can the Minister give us of its political influence and its contribution to peace in the north and south? To what extent have EU and US diplomats been able to engage and involve the Chinese in discussions about the implementation of the agreement? We must surely not wring our hands and assume that China, judging from its unwillingness to engage in human rights elsewhere, will not be a willing partner in discussions over Sudan. I do not believe, for example, that China has not noticed events in Sudan such as the recent beating up of opposition and southern politicians.

China's doctrine of non-interference was understandable when it began trading in Sudan many years ago; indeed, every empire begins that way—ours did. But it becomes less justifiable when it achieves a degree of considerable economic power. Its political influence on and, indeed, support for the Government of Sudan is undeniable; my noble friend Lord Alton has reminded us of the arms shipments. The question is what will happen to China when north and south—and, therefore, its own interests—are divided in two. The south has by far the largest share of oil in the ground—some say 88 per cent—but it is certainly not receiving its fair share of revenues as laid down by the CPA. Global Witness says that the south has only received $2 billion a year since 2005. The SPLM secretary-general, Pagan Amum, says that only $7 billion of $50 billion of total oil revenues has gone to the south.

There are also concerns about lack of transparency. Both the actual production figures and the prices on which transfers are based remain uncertain. The south has too little influence in Khartoum, and there are not enough southern appointees in oil consortia or senior positions in the industry, perhaps because of inexperience or because not enough names have been put forward. To add insult to injury, oil transfers to the Bank of Southern Sudan remain largely in Sudanese pounds. And of course there is corruption. Much of the revenue has gone astray or ended up in false grain contracts.

There are also doubts about the quality of oil. High-quality Nile crude from the Muglad basin in Unity state is now declining rapidly and major companies such as Lundin have pulled out altogether. The new Dar blend in Upper Nile is taking over from Unity and South Kordofan. But there is a lack of refinery capacity and the inexperience of new companies, insecurity and political mistrust have together created new uncertainties.

To return to my original theme, we must be positive about Sudan. I was sorry that even the 10 aid agencies are straying into alarmist language in some of their reports this morning. As the treasurer of the all-party group I strongly endorse their general conclusions, but they must be careful how they record what they have learnt. To judge from some of the media, the civil war has never ended. An article published in the New York Times in December described an attack by the Nuer on the Dinka as “no cattle raid”. We have to resist descriptions of Sudan such as:

“The land here is unforgiving, and in places looks like a junkyard of war, with burned-out tanks and shot-down jet fighters sinking into the weeds”.

I have seen one or two places like that in the south, but journalists tend to repeat the same stories based on the same places. This is a vast country, scarred by war perhaps, but full of promise. The Nuer, the Dinka and many others have reasons to fight each other, but they are not only warriors, but a wonderful pastoral people of considerable stature and integrity. They need and deserve our support as they move towards a self-reliant, autonomous and probably separate state.

The Los Angeles Times saw it from another angle when it recently interviewed one of the “lost boys”, who escaped from the civil war in the south and was resettled in the United States. He is called Mayuol and has returned to start projects in his home village. He says:

“There is no more shooting, but nothing else has changed. There is still a lot of suffering. People are dying of hunger. There is disease and no medication”.

The drama of Sudan is therefore not war, but poverty, which is the original source of both conflict and corruption. I believe that we are addressing it, but it takes time and we need to persuade all the parties to the comprehensive peace agreement, including those on the sidelines, that that is the real priority in Sudan. As the noble Baroness, Lady Cox, and my noble friend Lord Alton said, too many suffer from hunger, malnutrition, ill-health and lack of education and the oil revenues are not coming through fast enough to help them.

My Lords, I begin by offering apologies from the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Salisbury. I spoke to him at about 9 o'clock, when he was on Salisbury station. He is still somewhere between there and Waterloo. He asked me to cover some of what he would have said. It is on my computer, so I shall be covering what he might have said.

I add my thanks and my admiration to the noble Baroness, Lady Cox, for prompting this very timely debate. As others have said, it is a year until the referendum is due. It is also timely because next Monday, Archbishop Daniel Deng of the Episcopal Church of Sudan will be visiting the Archbishop of Canterbury. Together, they will meet the Prime Minister to talk about the situation in Sudan.

The role of the church, as has already been mentioned, is key to the future of Sudan, especially the south. The Government of Southern Sudan have asked the Episcopal Church and the other churches to work for peace and to encourage people to register to vote. Indeed, in many parts of southern Sudan the churches are the only organisations on the ground that are there among the people and able to effect change. I was at Archbishop Deng’s enthronement last April in Juba. He has committed himself to working for peace in Sudan and has committed the Episcopal Church to work right across Sudan in the peacekeeping and reconciliation process.

Peace can be achieved in Sudan only if there really is a concerted, co-ordinated international effort. First, the international community has to put together sufficient political and economic incentives to make it worth while for those warring or would-be warring parties—the NCP, the SPLM, the Darfuri rebels and others—to want peace rather than war. The current initiatives of the United States go part way towards what is needed, but they are not comprehensive enough and they are unilateral proposals.

So, secondly, the US, the UK and Norway, who helped to broker the CPA, together with China and other members of the Security Council, members of the African Union Peace and Security Council and the members of the IGAD need to agree to support an individual of international standing who can lead negotiations towards returning to the peace process. I think it almost goes without saying that this person should be an African. The sticking points are many and have been referred to by previous speakers.

Thirdly, there must be a really determined action to provide security for civilians in the south. Much has been said about the Lord’s Resistance Army already, but there is also the threat of other local tribal conflict being deliberately ignited to destabilise the region, and there is a real suspicion that the Government are acting as agent provocateur. The noble Earl, Lord Sandwich, referred to conflict between the Nuers and the Dinkas. I know that when Archbishop Daniel Deng, who has been travelling right across southern Sudan, visited that region, he was able to bring peace and reconciliation between those two factions.

Fourthly, we need to have hope and confidence and to look beyond the referendum itself. Negotiations need to begin now to map out the most peaceable way possible after the referendum, whether we have two countries or one, considering issues such as how the oil wealth is managed, movement of population, what the currency will be, and issues of security.

Sudan is often viewed as two countries artificially brought together by British administration. Superficially, separation might seem to be the easy solution and the one that appears most attractive at the moment, but there is no neat dividing line. My interest in Sudan arises out of the longstanding link between the diocese of Bradford and what was the diocese of Khartoum in the Episcopal Church of Sudan. That one diocese is now four, and at the end of March I am due to go to Sudan for the creation of a fifth northern diocese. The bishops in the north work hard with local and national government to keep the authorities honest about the plural nature of Sudanese society, including in the north.

On my first visit to Khartoum, I went round some of the camps of displaced people. I was told that there were 3 million displaced people, but I do not know how accurate that figure is. They are living in the deserts around the capital. Some of those settlements are still very primitive indeed; others are gradually becoming more developed. Many of those thousands of people are from the south, driven north by the civil war, but for economic and social reasons most of them would want to stay in Khartoum. Many of them are Christians.

Also in Khartoum, we have quite a number of members of the Sudanese army who are from the south. One can imagine that if civil war were reignited, those southern soldiers would not stand idly by while their brothers and sisters suffered in those settlements. The fault line between north and south also runs right through the Nuba mountains, through what I know as the diocese of Kadugli. As a slight aside, our diocesan office in the West Yorkshire village of Steeton is called Kadugli House. Nobody has a clue why it should be called that, but it was a statement that I wanted to make of the link that we have between a very troubled part of Sudan and a very different part of England.

Before the civil war, Christians and Muslims in that region lived happily side by side. They were often related to each other. It is less easy to live like that today, but the religious demography of Sudan poses the question for the future of what should be the place of Sharia in a country or countries with such a high proportion of non-Muslims.

As we reflect on Sudan and as we make recommendations from the comparative comfort and ease of this country, we should realise the enormous logistical problems that there are. On my last visit I spoke to the director of Tear Fund in Khartoum. They had had to pull out of their office in Juba because of the violence there. I was there because my diocese works in partnership with Tear Fund in providing wells in Darfur. I could hardly believe what the director told me, that it takes seven or eight days for a lorryload of grain to travel from Khartoum to Darfur, and 30 per cent of those lorries are hijacked or disappear for some other nefarious reason. Quite a number of the drivers have lost their lives. When I travelled back from Juba to Khartoum, some people travelling back with me went by a special flight to Khartoum. They then had to travel half way back to Juba by road, because that was the only way to get back to where they were going. The logistics are enormous, and any thoughts of peacekeeping or providing aid need to take that into consideration.

The Motion of the noble Baroness, Lady Cox, refers to recent developments in Sudan. I hope that the House will allow me the indulgence of speaking about what is happening on the ground. Work for peace in that country needs to happen not only at national level and among the community of nations, but also locally within Sudan. The diocese of Bradford is helping in a very small way to provide education in the Nuba mountains and in the north. We have a project, Good Morning Teacher, which helps to build permanent classrooms and provides teachers’ salaries. A little goes a long way: £15,000 will build a couple of classrooms. This then encourages local people to find extra resources for development of much-needed schooling. These schools that we are supporting are open to Muslims as well as Christians. I encourage Her Majesty’s Government to do something similar. Education, education, education is true for Sudan as well as for this country. There are local as well as national initiatives that we need to support, and support altruistically, if there is to be any hope for the people of Sudan.

When I visited one of those settlements for displaced people, I discovered that its name was Jabarona, which meant, “We were forsaken”. May it not be the comment of the nation of Sudan that they were forsaken. I give my wholehearted support to the Minister as she visits Sudan. I hope that, in the light of this rather depressing debate, she will perhaps take the advice of the general in one of the wars, who sent a signal of his situation, “We are surrounded on every side, my left wing is collapsing ... We shall advance”. I urge Her Majesty's Government to help the community of nations to advance for peace for Sudan.

My Lords, the noble Baroness, Lady Cox, speaks from long and continuous experience of humanitarian work in many parts of Sudan. As the noble Lord, Lord Judd, has said, we listen to her with the greatest respect and with gratitude for raising the formidable obstacles to implementation of the comprehensive peace agreement and the Darfur agreement. She quoted the opinion of an NGO that Sudan is sliding towards a violent breakup. That is the general fear of several others in a report issued just now, warning of a possible humanitarian disaster. That was also referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Alton. They are demanding urgent diplomatic effort to prop up the fragile five year-old deal that ended decades of internal conflict. I ask the Minister whether this can be left to the NCP, as the noble Baroness suggests, or whether it really needs interested action by the international community to reinforce those negotiations between the parties.

I am afraid that Sudan has had too little attention for a country that is ruled by a dictator accused before the International Criminal Court of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide, with the backing of the subservient National Congress Party. It is incredible to think that Omar al-Bashir, who has been in power for 20 years, is certain to win the elections when they take place, even though under his rule, as we have heard, 5 million to 6 million people have been internally displaced—the largest figure for any country in the world—with a quarter of a million refugees having fled over the borders to neighbouring countries and some 2 million people having been killed as a result of internal conflicts, including 300,000 in Darfur since 2003.

The NCP is the only recognised lawful political party, with 355 seats out of a total of 360 in the last parliamentary elections of December 2000. It is difficult to see how a reasonable and fair election can be held under these circumstances. The elections cannot possibly be free and fair when the Government have conspicuously failed to honour the conditions laid down in the CPA. According to the International Crisis Group, 16 provisions of the CPA remain to be implemented, including new laws reducing the powers of arbitrary arrest and detention, allowing the freedom of the media, an independent electoral commission and unrestricted access to international observer teams. The noble Earl, Lord Sandwich, rightly asked what discussions had been held with China, which has been conspicuously silent on these issues. I look forward to the Minister’s answer to that question.

The noble Baroness, Lady Cox, referred to the arrest last month of three senior leaders of the opposition SPLM. They were released hours later, but while they were in custody, one of the detainees, the deputy secretary-general of the SPLM, sustained injuries that required hospital treatment. If this is to be the pattern, the election campaign will be a disaster. Our ambassador in Khartoum said last June that we were committed to “establishing an environment conducive to free and fair elections” and that we had “been supporting preparations for the elections for some time”. What assessment have the Government made of the chances that any of the 16 conditions that were named by the ICG as not having been met will be accomplished in the short interval that remains before April? At what time does she think we ought to cut our losses and withdraw support, which is costing us a lot of money?

Since October last year, the US has been following the path of appeasement, and as its special envoy acknowledged under questions from a congressional committee, it is dealing with senior officials of a genocidal regime. If there were signs of reform, the new policy might be politically, if not morally, justifiable; but the goals of US policy in Sudan—the establishment of stable, sustainable governance and the prevention of a haven for Islamist terrorism—are nowhere in sight. Are we following in the footsteps of the US, as we usually do? Will the Minister say what is our policy, and that of the EU, on direct contacts with the regime, and as a result what concessions the regime has made on the implementation of the comprehensive peace agreement?

Meanwhile, the UK is a substantial contributor to the funding of UNMIS, the UN Mission in Sudan; UNAMID, the hybrid UN/AU mission in Darfur, and MINURCAT, the UN mission in Chad and the CAR, where the spillover from Darfur is a major causal factor of unrest. How much of the $2.2 billion cost of these three operations are we paying for as a Government, and what personnel are we providing? Is each of these operations likely to continue into 2010-11, and will their budgets be of the same order of magnitude? How can the Security Council justify spending such a large sum of money on a state which has defied the principles of democracy and human rights, and is heading now for a rigged vote?

The one bright spot on the horizon is that the terms of the referendum on the status of southern Sudan appear to have been agreed between the Government and the SPLM. I am pleased to hear that the people of Abyei, which is on the borderline between north and south, are to have their own referendum. South Kordofan and Blue Nile are to have what are described as “public consultations”, although it seems that the terms of reference and timing of the consultations have still to be announced. If the Minister has any information about the details, it would be useful for it to be put on the record in this debate. I understand that the Security Bill, passed at the same time just before the Sudan Parliament was prorogued for an indefinite recess, provides a far-reaching power to arrest people without their constitutional right to fair process, legal counsel and a proper prosecution with a stated charge.

Although both parties want the April elections to succeed, the SPLM challenges the validity of the census which determined constituencies and boundaries, and there is the problem of the 2 million displaced people in Darfur who will be disfranchised because they would have had to return to their homes to be registered three months before 7 December, the last date of the process. The conflicts in South Kordofan, Blue Nile and Abyei must have made registration there equally problematic. Can the noble Baroness give us any indication of how many of the people who would legitimately have been entitled to return to their homes and register to vote are now being deprived of their opportunity to take part in these elections?

The International Crisis Group recommends that a mediator of international stature be appointed, to convince the NCP and SPLM that they should renegotiate the timetable for meeting the comprehensive peace agreement benchmarks, with the April 2010 elections postponed to November, but the referendum still being held in the first week of January 2011. What is the Government's view on this proposal, and do they know what the reaction to it by the parties has been? Of course, if the Government have no intention of allowing free elections, a seven-month delay would be futile because the same considerations would apply after that gap. In any case, steps have to be taken to prevent a constitutional vacuum in July when the GNU and other interim institutions created by the comprehensive peace agreement expire. Does this not require a new protocol to the CPA? What steps are being taken for that purpose?

The CPA contained no provision about delineating the border between north and south, and in the five years since it was signed, that deficiency has been ignored, as the noble Earl, Lord Sandwich, pointed out. Since the main oilfields are in the border region, the matter has become extremely sensitive. Khartoum has been accused by the NGO Global Witness of falsifying the oil production figures so as to short-change the south on the revenue-sharing. Is it possible that the two entities might agree to commit themselves to agreement on definition of the line by an independent international commission, as with the Lauterpacht commission on the boundary between Eritrea and Ethiopia? If this is not practicable, what other methodology should be considered for reaching the decision in less than 12 months’ time?

Finally, several noble Lords mentioned the depredations of the LRA, notably my noble friend Lord Chidgey and the noble Lords, Lord Sheikh, Lord Judd and Lord Alton. It has continued to wreak havoc in Western Equatoria, and on an even larger scale over the border in DRC. The noble Baroness asked whether UNMIS could be given a more active role in protecting civilians, presumably on the lines of the Security Council's Resolution 1906 giving an enhanced role to MONUC. Others, notably my noble friend Lord Chidgey and the noble Lord, Lord Alton, have made a case for strong action on this if the election is to be successful. It is an interesting idea that the goals of the two missions should be closely aligned, and it leads me to ask whether the Minister thinks that it would be possible to go a stage further. If UNMIS and MONUC were to co-ordinate drives against the LRA, as my noble friend Lord Chidgey was suggesting, by the regular armed forces on both sides of the DRC/Sudan border, it ought to be possible to eradicate this very unpleasant armed group once and for all.

My Lords, I, too, thank the noble Baroness, Lady Cox, for introducing this important debate on recent developments in Sudan. I echo the remarks of the noble Lords, Lord Avebury and Lord Judd, on the noble Baroness’s continual interest and expertise in this area.

One of Sudan’s most violent regions, Darfur, has almost disappeared from the news completely and has been deemed a “low intensity conflict”. But the magnitude of the conflict has not lessened for those living in it who after all these years are still struggling to survive. Even the very survival of the state is uncertain, as is the quest for peace in this fragile country.

This is still the biggest humanitarian operation in the world, with almost 4.7 million people dependent on aid. More than 250,000 refugees from Darfur have lived destitute lives in truly horrendous conditions in refugee camps in Chad for six years. Camps with more than 2 million internally displaced people inside Darfur are even worse, and 30 per cent of those displaced are school-age children. On a daily basis, men, women and children as young as eight are raped, killed or abducted the moment they step out of camps to get food or water. Sadly, there have been reports of these atrocities occurring within the camps, perpetrated by family members, refugees and, disturbingly, some aid workers. This is not isolated in Darfur; it is occurring, and is largely undocumented, right across the refugee camps and killing fields of Sudan and its neighbouring areas.

Several noble Lords mentioned the Lord’s Resistance Army, which emerged in Uganda and has kidnapped tens of thousands of children during two decades of guerrilla war. There are reports that the LRA is now striking across Sudan’s south-western frontier, hunting for children. What representations have the Government made to the peacekeeping forces in Sudan to bring to their attention these security breaches and human rights violations so that they can act against them?

Part of the crisis in Sudan is caused by the influx of refugees from conflicts over the border in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic. Two thousand people have been killed in southern Sudan since January last year, including in horrific massacres. The United Nations mission to Sudan has described the situation in southern Sudan as a “humanitarian perfect storm” caused by intertribal fighting, a food deficit and a budgetary crisis. What are the Government doing to help resolve these three causes? What is the Government’s stance on Omar al-Bashir’s refusal to recognise the International Criminal Court, thereby evading justice for the crimes that he has been accused of committing? Many Sudanese do not recognise the ICC. What efforts are the Government making to strengthen its reputation and influence?

Despite the unimaginable monstrosities that continue in Sudan, there have been positive developments in some areas. Most notably, after much negotiation, the north and south have agreed on terms for a referendum in 2011 on southern independence. This was mentioned by my noble friend Lord Sheikh. Elections are due to be held in April this year. They will be the first since 1986. What actions are the Government taking to ensure that Sudan keeps its promises? How will both these events be policed and monitored for transparency and fairness? This point was made eloquently by the noble Lord, Lord Alton. It is almost certain that violence will increase in the run-up to these events. What plans are in place in anticipation of such an occurrence? Will the Minister inform the House of any plans and support that are in place to assist Sudan after the election and referendum?

The implementation of the comprehensive peace agreement is a step towards enhancing political stability in Sudan. It provides a framework for wealth and power sharing. It also establishes restrictions on the resupply of military equipment to forces in the agreement’s ceasefire zone. However, a study by the Geneva-based Small Arms Survey accused forces in north and south Sudan of engaging in an arms race that risks plunging the nation back into civil war. The study stated that,

“arms transfers to all parts of Sudan continue unabated and, in some instances, are increasing”.

In the light of the fact that the report says that EU-based organisations are facilitating the arms trade, what action will the Government take to stop such activities?

Although Sudan is not officially at war, we all know that this does not equate to peace. All the underlying causes of conflict remain and extreme violence could return very quickly. My noble friend Lord Sheikh pointed out that our historical connections with Sudan go back a long way. Therefore we in the United Kingdom must do everything in our power to help that country's quest for peace.

My Lords, as all noble Lords have quite rightly done, I pay tribute to the noble Baroness, Lady Cox, for her unstinting efforts and commitment on behalf of Sudan. Having visited Sudan many times myself, I know how respected and known her work is in that country, and we are very grateful to her for instigating this timely debate.

As all noble Lords have indicated, these are crucial times for Sudan. As the fifth anniversary of the CPA approaches, we know that that country is still suffering from relentless, pervasive poverty and violence. In southern Sudan in 2009, 2,500 people were killed and 350,000 people were displaced. That is not a firm peace: it must be described as still a fragile peace.

The CPA ended 20 years of war, during which millions of people died and thousands of women and children were captured and taken to live in the north. However, this week sees the launch of Sudan 365, which will take place across the world. There will be drumming outside 10 Downing Street, the visit to the Prime Minister of Archbishop Deng and lots of opportunities for us, including this evening when an excellent multi-agency report will be launched here.

This debate has, as the noble Baroness, Lady Cox intimated, added a great deal to the essential efforts needed to ensure that the campaign can see greater engagement and to the recognition of the dangers of escalation into further conflict in Sudan. That is why we in the UK must continue with our strong and determined engagement in Sudan, and must be especially vigilant as it faces an election in a matter of months and a referendum on separation in January 2011. Our task is to ensure that that election is credible, and that difficult outstanding issues are dealt with and resolved ahead of the referendum. This will be necessary regardless of which way the people of southern Sudan vote next year.

The issues must be seen in the context of the fact that the south is awash with small arms, there is fierce competition over natural resources and there is the added misery inflicted by the LRA. Many noble Lords have alluded to that. In many areas, access to people needing humanitarian aid is difficult and deteriorating. We must work to ensure that this is improved and that the capacity of local NGOs and churches in the south can be increased, because they alone will be able to reach the more remote areas. As well as international engagement, Sudan’s political and regional leaders must, in the coming year, redouble their efforts and engage in substantive political dialogue. This is the missing objective that we must emphasise. The motivation must be to steer a course away from violence, poverty and inequality.

Many questions were raised and I will do my best to deal with as many as possible. I will deal first with the points raised by the noble Baroness, Lady Cox. A number of noble Lords mentioned the report of the International Crisis Group. I agree that it is an excellent report and we welcome it, along with other reports from NGOs and think tanks such as Chatham House that are now being released.

On the question of insecurity in southern Sudan, we know that more people have died in the south as a result of tribal fighting than have died in Darfur. That is a shocking statistic. Attacks by the LRA have forced 300,000 people from their homes—more than double the number in 2008.

The Government are supporting a range of programmes to strengthen law-enforcement capacity and community-led security work, which is very important, as well as the promotion of reconciliation.

On the issue of the demonstrations, of course we are deeply concerned at the Khartoum Government's handling of the peaceful demonstrations held in Khartoum. In the context of this and other forms of violence, elections must be credible. Along with our international partners, we will be closely monitoring the run-up to the elections and polling itself, in order to ensure that freedom of expression, freedom of speech, media freedom and other precursors to a credible election are in place. We want full monitoring, as many noble Lords have said that we should, and we are keen for an early decision to go in from the European election observation teams. They took a technical mission before Christmas to make assessments, and we are waiting now to hear from them, but I am confident that they will announce that they will be taking a substantive mission to Sudan very soon to prepare the electoral commission work, and so on.

We welcome the Referendum Bill’s passage through the National Assembly and see it, as the noble Baroness, Lady Cox, suggested, as an important step in the progress that must be made towards the referendum in 2011. We know that it is essential that we build trust between the two sides. They must work together before the referendum, not at cross-purposes. On our development money and what we are funding, the budget in Sudan is £115 million for 2009-10, rising to £140 million from this year to next year. Our funding is focused on six thematic areas: supporting greater power-sharing and democratisation; promoting wealth-sharing; enhancing security, justice and reconciliation; strengthening public institutions to enhance the delivery of basic services—that includes education, which was raised by the right reverend Prelate, and I will come back to that later—improving natural resource management; and meeting the challenge of climate change, which has been proven to have important effects on conflict.

On the question of whether we are protecting civilians, raised by the noble Baroness, Lady Cox, and others, we have called and will continue to call for measures to protect civilians and give proper priority to those operations. We also call for close co-operation with the UN missions in LRA-affected areas—in particular, MONOC and UNMIS. The noble Baroness asked about mobile polling stations. Elections are currently scheduled for 18 April, and my latest news is that they will extend for two days. In rural areas, this is expected to give people three days to vote. As mobile polling stations would be moved around during the day, the concept has been rejected by national stakeholders, as the perception is that they would increase the risk of fraud and cause misallocation—which is a euphemism for losing ballot papers on purpose. That is probably a good point. The option for polling stations which, although stationary during the day, change location each day is still being considered, and that may be a helpful answer.

On the arrest of SPLM leaders, we are deeply concerned that Pagan Amum, Yasser Arman and others were detained in Khartoum on 7 December. We urge the Government of Sudan to avoid the disruption of peaceful protests, to respect the rights of freedom of assembly and freedom of speech, and to protect people from arbitrary arrest and detention. I will be raising that and other issues with the authorities in Khartoum when I am there next week.

On the former African slaves we are greatly concerned that, five years after the signing of the CPA, instances of abduction between north and south Sudan have not been investigated or resolved. We will continue to press the Government of Sudan to respect human rights and bring an end to the alarming culture of impunity which is allowed to exist. Again, I assure the noble Baroness that I will raise the issue next week.

Several noble Lords raised the issue of eastern Sudan. The population in the east is one of the poorest and most disadvantaged in the country. We are seeking increased focus on the situation in the east. We urge Sudan’s political leaders to ensure implementation of the remainder of the eastern Sudan peace agreement. I can inform the noble Baroness that we are also providing funding and support through the UNDP to the state Governments in the east.

How do we ensure that our funding reaches marginalised people? In such a deeply unequal society as Sudan, we are well aware of the issue of marginalisation. DfID’s approach is very much about reducing poverty and reaching the more marginalised people. Again in the east, we are involved in healthcare services, demining—another important issue—demobilisation and reintegration of former combatants. On EU funding for the east of Sudan, there are some development programmes, but perhaps we should press for more.

The noble Lord, Lord Sheikh, mentioned Abyei. The implementation of the ruling in July 2009 is a crucial part of the CPA. We are concerned that, despite public commitment by both the NCP and the SPLM, as the noble Lord suggested, progress remains very much behind schedule. Only a small number of border markers have gone down, and we continue to press for urgent action on that. A representative from our embassy visited Abyei in December as part of a joint UK-US evaluation, and we will continue to raise our concerns.

We are marking the fifth anniversary by a statement from the Prime Minister, the Foreign Secretary and the troika. The maintenance of the CPA for that period represents some achievements, but we hope that it will galvanise us to achieve not just a CPA that is a short-term, intermediate measure, but one that will lead to long-term peace and security for the people of Sudan. On Kordofan, Abyei and Blue Nile, we have provided humanitarian and early recovery support to the traditional areas since the signing of the CPA—£5.1 million to South Kordofan in 2008 and £28 million through the multi-donor trusts since the CPA was signed. We have committed £30 million over the next three years to provide basic services to those areas. On voting in Abyei, the referendum commission will decide who is eligible, as the noble Lord suggested. We welcome the recent improvement in relations between Chad and Sudan, and encourage more concrete steps likely to build security in the region. I have probably said enough about the assessment of the security situation in the region.

Several noble Lords asked about the LRA. In Sudan, we have raised the issue of the LRA at a senior level with the Government of south Sudan, including the chief of staff of the SPLA. We have urged the Government of south Sudan to co-operate regionally to address the issue robustly—more robustly than we have seen to date. We assess that LRA units are currently active in north-east DRC, south Sudan and the Central African Republic. It has been suggested, including by some Ugandan officials, that the LRA could, under continuing regional military pressure, head for Darfur or Chad. We have no confirmation that that is the case. We are providing significant humanitarian assistance to those who are displaced. DfID is the largest donor to the Common Humanitarian Fund. We are providing £6 million to the ICRC in Sudan and assistance and protection to those people displaced by the LRA.

Why has Joseph Kony not been arrested? That is a very difficult question, and I wish that someone could come up with an answer. To date, we have not been able to do so. We do not comment on intelligence measures, as I am sure that the noble Lord will understand, but I would be happy to offer any more detailed briefing to him on the matters that he raised. The LRA’s impact is disproportionate to its size and we must do all that we can to end that terrible campaign. We will be in touch very soon.

We will continue to call for the protection of civilians and for close co-operation between the UN agencies. As for what we are doing to facilitate more defections from the LRA, as noble Lords will be aware, Uganda and other countries involved in operations against the LRA are working on encouraging defections. To some extent that is working; it includes work with the International Organisation for Migration, with UNICEF and with MONUC. We are studying whether more can really be done. I can come back to noble Lords on this when we have a better idea of what is possible in dealing with the abductions and coercion and the terrible implications for the individuals.

Will the Government make representations to the Security Council? The Security Council discussed the LRA in November and the Government very actively emphasised the need for regional governments to do all they can, and other matters. The noble Lord, Lord Chidgey, asked about the breakdown of the £400,000 and MONUC. I do not have those details to hand but, again, will be very happy to follow that up with him.

What does the noble Baroness think of the suggestion that there should be greater co-operation on military action against the LRA by all the Governments involved, particularly the DRC and Sudan?

I am sorry—we did not sit down for interventions in the other place where I worked. I shall have to learn new habits.

The activities of the regional players are now very important. They are all actively working to deal with the effects through regional military co-operation and are attempting to follow through. I will happily come back with more detail on the point that the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, makes, because quite a lot can be said on it.

On the north-south civil war, we believe that neither party in Sudan wishes to return to it. What possible interest could the north or, indeed, the south have in perpetuating further tension and conflict? However, we need to see full implementation of the CPA. We are pushing hard for that and on all the post-referendum and oil-sharing issues that have been raised.

As for the £54 million announced yesterday, this will provide £36 million to the Common Humanitarian Fund, £10 million to development in the south and a further £8 million to supporting the election. On the troika, we have been working very closely with all the players in Sudan—the United States, the Norwegians and others who, like us, have a close affinity and concern. We meet regularly with donors and agents. Regular telephone videoconferences and so on are taking place on these matters.

My noble friend Lord Judd made a number of important points. He is someone whom I have enjoyed working with over many years. He was a fine director of Oxfam, and he is always extremely effective and perceptive in the many roles that he plays. I can assure him that I will be meeting Oxfam in Khartoum on Monday and Saferworld in Juba later in the week. So those two things will be covered. I will also be attending the NGO launch this evening in order to add my thanks for the work that they have been doing. My noble friend also asked about UNAMID and protecting civilians. Since UNAMID’s inception the UK has contributed more than £100 million to the mission. In March 2009, we contributed a further £1.8 million in discretionary funding for the training and equipping of a Sierra Leonean reconnaissance company which was then deployed to UNAMID.

What is the UK doing to support Darfur? We support the AU-UN Darfur political process through the leadership of the UN. Qatar’s vital contribution should be noted as we seek a cessation of hostilities. We welcome the recent report of the AU Panel on Darfur, whose recommendations offer scope for progress on peace, justice and reconciliation. I will be attending the African Union summit in a few weeks’ time in Addis and will specifically raise issues on Darfur and Sudan while I am there.

As for the assessment of the operating environment in Darfur, we are aware of the decision by the International Committee of the Red Cross to suspend its activity in Darfur and eastern Chad because of constant attacks on their employees and staff, which are of course deplorable and make it even more difficult for the people of that region. We should realise that, seven years after the crisis began, this is still going on; seven years down the road, people are still living in those camps and are still afraid to go home. The women are still being raped and still being surrounded by militias. I should very much hope that noble Lords will agree that it would be absolutely wrong for us to lose sight of the importance of continuing to focus on what is occurring in Darfur.

There are of course very many small arms moving around Africa, not least in Sudan. The north-south conflict has been responsible for a great deal of that. The borders of Sudan are extremely porous, and weapons are easily available and reasonably cheap for those who wish to purchase them. I welcome the APG hearings which the noble Lord, Lord Alton, mentioned. The Secretaries of State for Foreign Affairs and for International Development have written to the APG on this topic, and like the noble Lord, I am sure, I keenly look forward to the group’s report.

As for oil production, we are aware of the Global Witness report. Indeed, I read it with interest and noted with deep concern some of the points that it raised. Transparency is extremely important on this matter, as the noble Lord, Lord Alton, the noble Earl, Lord Sandwich, and others have said. We have constantly emphasised the importance of transparency, and I agree that we need to look at the issue of auditing to ensure that all the parties—and this will be a key issue in how the referendum plays—are satisfied that the revenues will be shared fairly. That is one of the most contentious issues to be resolved, as the Chatham House report, which many of your Lordships will soon be seeing, says.

An audit of the oil revenues will be necessary. Oil is critical to both the north and the south, providing 97 per cent of the south’s revenue and 44 per cent of the revenue for the Government of national unity. The noble Earl, Lord Sandwich, is quite right to suggest that the south has not been receiving revenues. There is currently a huge shortfall in the money owed by the north to the south, so we need a post-CPA oil-sharing deal. I am receiving notes that I have to finish but I shall just plough on.

On the International Criminal Court and what recent assessment has been made, I reassure your Lordships that we have a long-standing position of support for the work of the ICC as an independent judicial body. We have repeatedly urged the Government of Sudan to co-operate with the ICC. We continue to monitor the situation closely, and to make clear our expectation that all countries should cooperate with the ICC in order to ensure that the particular obligations of states parties can be met. Needless to say, I shall not be meeting President Bashir next week.

I will close here. I think that I have covered points that noble Lords raised later in the debate. I hope that I have covered as many points as possible. I very much value and appreciate the expertise and experience shown by noble Lords in this debate. This House has continuously maintained its interest and support for Sudan, and the noble Baroness, Lady Cox, has played a central role in those efforts.

A great deal remains to be done. We are still struggling to believe that a sustainable peace and development in Sudan are within our grasp, but we have to believe that they are. I agree with the noble Earl, Lord Sandwich, that this is not a time for pessimism. We have a year, and there is time. If the political will is there, so much can be achieved. There is no time for any grim forebodings. We do not want to hear any of those; the noble Earl, Lord Sandwich, is absolutely right. There has to be political dialogue and an end to violence. On my many visits to Sudan, I have certainly understood that now really is the time for co-ordinated and urgent action. Above all, the task is to prevent any escalation into further violence, to encourage dialogue and to ensure that peace, security and reconciliation can be enjoyed by the long-suffering people of Sudan.

My Lords, in opening the debate I expressed the hope that it would be a source of encouragement to all those working to promote peace and democracy in Sudan. I believe that every one of your Lordships’ contributions, culminating in a very full response from the Minister, have fulfilled that hope. They have all illustrated a great diversity and breadth of experience; expressed the strongest possible support for the peace initiatives; shown a deep commitment to the welfare of people suffering humanitarian crises; and reflected a profound and legitimate concern, because there is no room for complacency. However, we can hope that many of the recommendations made to the international community, along with the leadership of Sudan, will help to sustain the comprehensive peace agreement and promote the peace for which so many have died and for which so many have long yearned. Therefore, I thank every noble Lord who has contributed to this very important debate, as I thank the Minister for her detailed reply and the good news that it contained. We wish her well on her forthcoming visit and ask her to take our good wishes with her to those whom she will meet in Sudan. I beg leave to withdraw the Motion.

Motion withdrawn.