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Sudan and South Sudan: EUC Report

Volume 739: debated on Wednesday 17 October 2012

Motion to Take Note

Moved by

That the Grand Committee takes note of the Report of the European Union Committee on The EU: Sudan and South Sudan—follow-up report (28th Report, Session 2010-12, HL Paper 280).

My Lords, probably at the end of this debate I will not be able to raise the applause that the last debate did. It would be most inappropriate for the subject we are debating this afternoon. This is probably the shortest report ever produced by an EU Committee, but its purpose was specific: to maintain focus—not just within this House but well beyond it—on events going on in Sudan and South Sudan, following our original report published around the time of independence last year. I will give the Grand Committee some background to the issues; we have such an excellent level of contributions to this report that I hope everyone else will then be able to contribute.

Sudan has been much troubled. Since 1955, the year before independence, up to 2005, it was a period of almost continual unrest, except maybe in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Then in 2005, we had the comprehensive peace agreement, very much with the help of the United States, which was seen as a major breakthrough. That led to a referendum in January 2011, which was generally seen as successful in terms of the way it was carried out and its validity, which overwhelmingly called for the independence of South Sudan. On 9 July last year, both Presidents Omar al-Bashir and Salva Kiir were there to celebrate the independence of the first African state to be declared independent by consent. That was a tremendous achievement, not just for that continent, but for the people of both Sudans and the world community.

However, despite that comprehensive peace agreement, a large number of issues were still there: debt, citizenship, most of all the delineation of the border and the status of Abyei in particular, and the issue of oil revenues. As we are an EU sub-committee producing this report, there were a number of EU issues as well, such as the slow establishment of the mission there, but overall those problems internationally between Sudan and South Sudan were of great importance. Not just that—in South Sudan there was very little infrastructure. There were about 50 kilometres of tarmac road, hardly any social infrastructure, rebel forces within South Sudan, an overlarge Sudanese People’s Liberation Army and $11 billion of oil revenues unaccounted for post-2005, when the comprehensive peace agreement took place. That was some challenge and the comprehensive peace agreement was not so comprehensive by the time of independence.

Since that report and since independence, as members of the Grand Committee will know, the problems have been just as large: a huge refugee flow, going both ways, but particularly into South Sudan, has created a grave humanitarian crisis; Sudan’s bombing of South Sudan; and the occupation of the Heglig oil region by South Sudan; which hardly helped that situation and almost led to war around March and April this year. One of the things that stimulated us as a sub-Committee to look at this issue, was South Sudan’s decision to stop the flow of oil through Sudan, which was its only way of exporting oil to the Red Sea at that time. It meant a reduction of public revenues to the South Sudanese Government, who are not well endowed otherwise, of 98%.

In fact, when we circulated the draft report among the EU Committee, one of the members wrote back and said, “You have got this wrong because it says that South Sudan has stopped the oil, whereas clearly you mean it was Sudan”. Of course, it was not. It is like South Sudan having imposed oil sanctions upon itself. Whatever the reasons and however deep the injustice, the sub-committee felt very strongly that this was reckless behaviour by the new state towards its citizens. Of course, within Sudan itself there has been the ethnic cleansing and all the other violence that has taken place in Blue Nile and Southern Kordofan.

In September, there was some light at the end of the tunnel, perhaps, with the agreement made in Ethiopia and all the work that Ethiopia has undertaken in this area around oil and the demilitarisation of the border zone. Having said that, we are aware that it is very easy to turn off oil; it is much less easy to turn it back on again, and the oil in the Sudan region is particularly viscous and waxy, and getting that pipeline to work again is going to be a major issue. In fact, the International Energy Agency estimates that even in five years’ time, output will not be back to the levels that it was before the supply was cut off.

The EU is doing a number of things and we should not forget that some €285 million will be spent on the development budget since independence and up to 2013, and this month a CSDP mission is due to go into Juba airport to help with communications and that area of infrastructure.

Our report says that it is easy to go through all these difficult issues, but the comprehensive peace agreement is still not implemented. Although there has been a resolution, perhaps, on oil revenues and on the demilitarisation of the border, those border disputes are still not resolved and there is still infinite possibility of continued conflict between the two states, and all of history will tell us that it will continue. Clearly, the committee hopes that that will not be the case.

What the region very much needs is for the international community to stay involved. The African Union has played an important role, as has the United States, the United Kingdom and other member states of the European Union. This region must not be forgotten. The international community must help it to reconcile its difficulties. Apart from the important work of China, one thing that is absolutely clear to all of us is that for the foreseeable future the two Sudans need each other, and to live in peaceful coexistence. I beg to move.

My Lords, I very much welcome the fact that this debate is taking place comparatively soon since the publication of the report. After taking out the couple of months in the summer, it is a comparatively early debate. I also welcome the new Minister, the noble Baroness, Lady Warsi, to her position. I believe we do not have the honour of being her first debate—I think that was last week—but we welcome her here very much indeed.

This follow-up report is very short, just one page. The background has been ably set out by the noble Lord, Lord Teverson, so I am not going to go through it. The core concerns are set out in paragraphs 3 and 4. Paragraph 3 says:

“The Committee is particularly alarmed that South Sudan has cut off the flow of its own oil”,

and paragraph 4 says that,

“economic or social development in South Sudan will become profoundly difficult, if not impossible, with rapid and serious adverse effects on its economy and people”.

That, of course, is absolutely right.

In many respects, South Sudan’s actions in cutting off the oil struck us as almost suicidal. However, looked at from another point of view, the South Sudanese were in a situation where they believed Khartoum was deliberately using the pipeline as a lever and was misappropriating some of the oil and consequently the proceeds of it. They felt that they could not allow themselves to be held to ransom by Khartoum. If they had said, “The effect of this on us would be horrendous”, they would effectively have put an ace into Khartoum’s hands. Therefore, while the action had all the implications stated in our report, the South Sudanese had to show Khartoum that if need be they could do without the oil, and that eventually this would start to hurt Khartoum and perhaps bring it back to a more reasonable position. Perhaps that happened; I do not know. My comments are speculative. I am aware that there was pressure from others. Perhaps they—and even the Chinese, who had a very clear interest in getting oil out of Sudan and South Sudan—had an effect.

When we think of the impact on South Sudan, we should bear in mind that its level of development is already comparatively low. None the less, it is a rich agricultural area where people exist largely by subsistence. However, the people have narrow margins to deal with and they have problems with intertribal disputes, as occurred last year. Of course, the flood of refugees into South Sudan was something that they could not cope with. We are looking at this from a development point of view; they are looking from the other end of the pipeline, where things appear rather different.

Since we produced the report, there has been a new agreement. On 27 September 2012 the co-operation agreement between the Republic of Sudan and the Republic of South Sudan was signed and countersigned on every page with the initials of the persons involved. Obviously one welcomes it; a new agreement is a good thing. However, one also asks the question: will the agreement be any better than the other agreements in resolving the outstanding problems?

It is important to step back from day-to-day matters and remember some of the basic facts about, first, the nature of Sudan and of the Sudanese Government. Sudan exists within colonial boundaries, and if ever there was a set of completely inappropriate boundaries, this is it. It unites sub-Saharan Africa with the north of the Sahara in terms of the peoples it covers. The ethnic and economic differences are enormous. In a sense, splitting the country is a sensible thing; one could say that it should never have been one unit in the first place. I will come back to this in a moment.

The second thing to bear in mind is the nature of the Khartoum Government. I will not go into detail, but refer noble Lords to comments I made in the 7 December debate on our first report. We are dealing essentially with an Islamist Government. We should remember that this is where bin Laden first moved when the Saudis drove him out of Saudi Arabia. The President of this Government was indicted as a war criminal. The regime has been responsible for enormous atrocities within its current boundaries and also in the area of South Sudan. My impression is that the regime is hunkering down under pressure and doing things reluctantly when it is forced to, and that if ever it gets a chance to get out from under that pressure and try to reclaim part of the authority that it had, or to destabilise others, it will not be able to resist the temptation.

When we consider these two factors we see that in this situation normal diplomacy will not work. The African Union is—perhaps “incapable” is too strong a word, but it is intrinsically unlikely to be effective. It is heavily inhibited by anything that changes the colonial boundaries, because of the implications that would have through country after country south of the Sahara. Furthermore, it is extremely reluctant to pass judgments on the character of Governments. Too many other African countries have skeletons in their own cupboards. Therefore, the African Union will not be effective in dealing with the character of the regime.

The only thing that will work is pressure. The only thing that produced the comprehensive peace agreement was pressure, and by pressure, I do not mean normal diplomatic pressure, I mean really strong pressure, exerted primarily by the US Government, which left Khartoum at one stage fearing that it was facing an existential threat. I am not saying that we should be trying to persuade the current US Administration to do that. I do not think we would have any chance if we tried and, of course, we must not make any assumptions about what might happen in future. As the interim report says, we end up saying that the international community should be doing what it can to bring about the resolution of the outstanding issues, and while, for the sake of politeness, we have to name check the African Union, the European Union and others, we ought to bear in mind that at the heart of the matter the people who are going to bring effective pressure to bear are those with the ability to do so, which, I am afraid, puts the ball back in someone else’s court.

My Lords, in May, I attended a three-day retreat of Anglican and Roman Catholic Bishops in Yei, South Sudan. Unfortunately, the bishops from the Republic of Sudan could not be there because of the political situation. I was struck by how, as Anglicans and Roman Catholics seeking to work as one across both nations, they were committed to working with each other and with Muslim leaders as well for the good of all.

These bishops are close to the grass roots. In their joint statement, they said:

“We begin to wonder whether the International Community still understands the aspirations of the people of South Sudan, as well as the marginalised communities in Sudan”.

The fact is that the needs and aspirations of these noble people are not actually understood in the West.

One thing is absolutely clear: the future well-being of both Sudan and South Sudan depends on achieving peaceful and constructive relations between the two countries. The agreement reached in Addis Ababa between the Presidents of Sudan and South Sudan on 27 September in the course of talks mediated by the African Union high-level panel is good news and represents a significant step back from the brink of war and towards peace. The African Union’s role and, in particular, that of President Mbeki in heading the panel is to be applauded. The support of the international community, including both Her Majesty’s Government and the European Union, has also played an important part.

However, the 27 September agreement is only partial. The oil agreement enabling the resumption of oil production is critical to the economies of both countries, but the oil deal on its own is not enough. Achieving border security, particularly establishing a demilitarised zone along their common border, will be a prerequisite for stability. Stability will require agreement on disputed border areas and, most notably, on the future of Abyei. This needs to be resolved as soon as possible. Although the basis has long been agreed, the Sudan Government have so far rejected every attempt to make progress, despite the considerable efforts and concessions made by South Sudan.

A church delegation led by Archbishop Daniel Deng returned from a visit to Abyei last week. It was shocked by what it saw. The town is deserted and has been completely destroyed. The Catholic church, Catholic and Episcopal Church of Sudan schools, boreholes, administrative offices, government houses, the power station, shops, and even the latrines have all been destroyed. There appear to be no humanitarian agencies working there as, apparently, it is considered part of Sudan, and they do not work cross-border. A huge number of displaced people from Abyei, perhaps as many as 100,000, are in Agok with very few basic services. The people simply ask for what is their right under the Abyei protocol of the comprehensive peace agreement agreed by both parties: a referendum in which they can choose their destiny. All parties should be ready to accept the African Union high-level panel proposal. Abyei cannot endure this much longer. There are some real signs of hope. The four freedoms agreement, under which rights are granted reciprocally to the two countries’ citizens to allow freedom of movement, property ownership, work and residence, is much to be welcomed. This offers much needed safety and stability. The 27 September agreement did not address conflicts internal to Sudan in South Kordofan and Blue Nile, which nevertheless affect both countries.

There can be no military solution. Both parties to the conflict—the Government of Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army in the north—are militarily well equipped and are set on military success. Both urgently need persuading of the need for a negotiated resolution, which must safeguard the rights of the indigenous population and resist any attempts to force them to flee south and take over their lands and resources. Attacks on civilians by either side must immediately cease, particularly the aerial bombing of civilians by the Sudan armed forces.

Resolving the conflicts in South Kordofan, Blue Nile and Darfur remains critical for the future stability of the Republic of Sudan. Key to this will be the recognition of the reality of Sudan as a multiethnic, multicultural and multireligious nation. The UK and the EU need, in their engagement with the Government of Sudan, to encourage respect for this reality and a constitutional process that enables the inclusion and participation of the whole of Sudanese society.

Freedom of religion is an essential element of respect for human rights in Sudan and needs to be emphasised. There is a significant indigenous Christian presence in Sudan whose rights must be respected. There was a marked deterioration earlier in the year following dangerously provocative language from President Bashir, which included the destruction by a mob of a Presbyterian evangelical church and community centre in Gereif and the destruction by police of an Anglican church in Haj Yusef, both in Khartoum. Anglican church premises in Kadugli were also badly damaged by government forces in June 2011. It is welcome that the local government has taken some steps to work with the church in repairing that building.

Back in South Sudan, the church has a significant role in supporting the transition from armed conflict and in addressing development needs. The church makes a unique contribution in peace-building, and great leadership has been shown by Archbishop Daniel Deng in achieving a regional peace agreement in May 2012 between the different groups in Jonglei State. Development support should be encouraged to ensure a peace dividend becomes apparent so as to consolidate such efforts. In education and health initiatives, the church continues to be a strategic major player. On the first anniversary of South Sudan’s independence in July this year the two archbishops, Anglican and Roman Catholic, Daniel Deng and Paulino Lukudu Loro, reiterated the dream expressed when we met back in May:

“We dream of two nations which are democratic and free, where people of all religions, all ethnic groups, all cultures and all languages enjoy equal human rights based on citizenship. We dream of two nations at peace with each other, cooperating to make best use of their God-given resources, promoting free interaction between their citizens, living side by side in solidarity … We dream of people no longer traumatised, of children who can go to school, of mothers who can attend clinics, of an end to poverty and malnutrition, and of Christians and Muslims who can attend church or mosque freely without fear”.

I call upon Her Majesty’s Government to do all in their power to assist both countries in making this dream a reality, and I welcome this short report.

My Lords, it is difficult to follow the right reverend Prelate the Archbishop of York, but I shall do my best. I join other noble Lords in welcoming the Minister to her job. It is very good that she is in the Foreign Office and that the ministerial team in the Foreign Office is no longer 100% male. Perhaps the noble Baronesses, Lady Kinnock and Lady Chalker, will join me in saying that.

I feel a slight frustration that in this House, when we discuss Africa, we tend to move from crisis to crisis. I hope that I will be forgiven if I say a few words about Africa more generally before moving on to Sudan. The broader context is changing rapidly. We have come a long way from the day 10 years ago when the economists described Africa as the hopeless continent. There are positive developments. There has been strong growth in sub-Saharan Africa. It was nearly 5% last year and considerably more in some sub-Saharan African countries. Investment and labour productivity are growing.

There are also some startling statistics. Between 2010 and 2050, the population of Africa is expected to double, which means that by 2050 one in every four people in the world will be African. These changes of course provide opportunities and I shall give just a couple more statistics. British exports of goods and services to Africa last year were about the same as those to China and India combined. When I first read that statistic, I blinked slightly and checked it. But I am told that it is true, and African exports to Britain have now doubled since 2000.

With that good news, as always, comes the need for caution. To comment on another part of Africa, something that looks good one year can look pretty ropey the next. Mali was a success story until the takeover in the north and the coup in the south. We now have in the north of Mali, an al-Qaeda/Boko Haram/radical Tuareg state which threatens our interests in the region and across the Mediterranean seaboard. I find it profoundly depressing that just as the desperate scenario in Somalia begins to get better, we risk having a quasi-terrorist state further west. Therefore, there is all the more reason to ensure that the tensions elsewhere in the continent, such as in Sudan, are well handled.

As others have said, the recent agreement between north and south on restarting the oil pipeline is positive, even if it is still fragile. However, that agreement did not touch other flashpoints. It did not touch Abyei, South Kordofan or the Blue Nile, and horror stories in Darfur remain. I feel that there is a slight risk that with the focus on the north and south, we forget about Darfur. We still need to remember that there are atrocities in Darfur which, if they were the only thing in Sudan that attracted our attention, really would attract our attention. I urge that we do not forget that.

While these tensions remain, particularly those between north and south, there remains too the risk of miscalculations leading to renewed and serious conflict. That includes the south overplaying its hand in the expectation that international support will always be there, and the north committing atrocities in the border areas and intervening in the south to a degree that causes the south’s neighbours, perhaps Uganda, to intervene or attempt to intervene to protect it.

Just as the noble Lord, Lord Teverson, said, there is a key role for the international community to work with both Sudans to ensure that those sorts of miscalculations do not happen, and to help with the humanitarian and development needs, particularly in Darfur and the south. There is a need first just to keep Sudan at the top of the international agenda. Good news or relatively good news, such as that over the oil pipeline, is not a reason for shifting our attention elsewhere but for ensuring that there is no backsliding. I hope that the Minister can give us an assurance that Sudan will remain a key part of the Government’s priorities. Despite the difficulties, there is a real need, too, for closer co-operation between the EU, the African Union and, as we said in our report, China, which has a real interest in the north and the south.

There is also a need for new and improved mechanisms for aid funding to meet the huge needs of South Sudan in particular. I declare an interest as chair of the international medical charity, Merlin, which operates in South Sudan and Darfur. A few years ago when I was in Juba, much play was made by donors, bilateral donors and the World Bank of new interim donor co-ordination measures that had been put in place and how they would provide some assurance of continuity. However, three years later, they are still interim measures and there has not really been the improvement in donor co-ordination which will make a real difference to people in South Sudan. I hope that there, too, the Minister can give us an assurance that we will do all we can to ensure that donor co-ordination is improved.

As well as keeping Sudan and South Sudan firmly in the headlights, and ensuring that western countries, the EU and China work together to prevent potential disastrous political miscalculations, we need also—perhaps above all—to strengthen our donor mechanisms and continue to focus on the real humanitarian needs in much of South Sudan and Darfur.

My Lords, the speech made the noble Lord, Lord Jay, places this matter very well in its correct context. The deals over oil, trade and security signed by the leaders of Sudan and South Sudan last month were a most welcome development. They have brought hope of a better future for some of the poorest people on earth whose lives have been ravaged by civil war. However, it would be naive to believe that all the economic woes, the plight of the dispossessed refugees and the dangers arising from the volatile border disputes can simply be eliminated overnight.

It is acknowledged that international pressure, particularly from the African Union, helped to produce the recent agreements. However, the committee’s report, which was written before the deals were signed, makes the still very relevant plea that the European Union must work urgently with the African Union and the United Nations to persuade Sudan and South Sudan to seek a mutually advantageous resolution of the outstanding issues between them.

The most important economic issue is how soon oil sales can begin again, as the precarious financial position of both countries has been seriously damaged as a result of the shutdown in oil production in the south in January this year. It will be recalled that at the time of independence in July last year, the new country of South Sudan got two-thirds of the former Sudan’s oil but Khartoum continued to retain the processing and export facilities. Oil sales, in fact, account for around 98% of South Sudan’s budget.

There is also the prospect of negotiations and arguments over the possible development of a pipeline from oil fields in South Sudan through Uganda to the coast of Kenya. Here, I should very much like to congratulate and welcome the Minister, the noble Baroness, Lady Warsi, and to wish her every good fortune. Perhaps she would like to say a word about the possibility of such a pipeline through to Kenya. However, it seems to me that Sudan will assert an interest in any such development and that discussions with a view to finding a meeting of minds are extremely likely to be necessary. Perhaps the Minister can say how best a way forward might be found on that subject. Judging from past experience, the African Union should have a considerable influence in this connection.

While the deal over resuming oil production is the most encouraging aspect of the recent agreements, international pressure should also be maintained. The noble Lord, Lord Trimble, emphasised that point. That pressure should be maintained on both Governments to try to reach a solution on the vexed question of Abyei. I was very pleased that the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of York referred to this and to other urgent matters. A demilitarised buffer zone is part of last month’s agreement but little progress seems to have been made on deciding the future of this disputed border area, which contains valuable oil reserves.

Here again, perhaps the Minister can tell us whether the British Government favour the concept of a referendum being held that could assign the area to one of the two countries or whether they prefer the idea of political negotiations and a negotiated solution that could mean the region being divided between the two Sudans. I note that Sudan has stated a preference for a negotiated solution.

I should also like to ask the Minister about the current status of the EU office in South Sudan following the previous commitment of the noble Baroness, Lady Ashton, the high representative of the EU, to upgrade it into an EU delegation with a new head of delegation, and also about the planning of development support in areas such as law, education, health, water management and food security. The average life expectancy of men in this part of the world is around only 58 years of age. Half the women are not literate, and we know the horrifying total of at least 1.5 million people who died during the long years of warfare between the north and South Sudan. Future generations deserve a great deal better than that.

I was very pleased to have the opportunity to support the noble Lord, Lord Teverson, and his committee in having a follow-up report. As that report urges, European Union countries must continue their efforts to play an effective part, through development aid, in helping the people of these two countries, who have endured so much suffering and upheaval, to achieve a stable, peaceful and economically viable place in the modern world.

My Lords, I begin by apologising to the Minister and members of the Committee; because the earlier debate overran, I have run into personal problems with a longstanding family engagement, so I may have to leave before the end of the debate.

I welcome the follow-up report and the initial committee report, The EU and Sudan: on the Brink of Change. The very title of the initial report poses two questions. First, clearly the committee remit is restricted to the EU role, thus it does not have the total picture in focus—for example, the atrocities in Darfur. Surely we as a House need to revisit the possibility of a foreign affairs committee in the House of Lords. When I chaired the committee in the other place, I was in favour of such a foreign affairs committee because the world is a big place and, with adequate co-ordination, one could have such a committee.

Secondly, the title says “on the brink of change”. The initial report was published in June, after evidence over the previous months, with a follow-up report in March 2012. However, it is thin in the extreme, with only one witness, the Minister, and was a snapshot of a serious problem at the time, with the oil blockade and war. Happily, things have improved with the agreement of 27 September. This House needs to examine its procedures in order to allow such reports to be debated in a timely manner and not just deal with historic documents.

I will make one other preliminary remark. I looked in vain, in both reports, for any mention of the Commonwealth. The Government trumpet their attachment to the Commonwealth but they seem to ignore it when opportunities like this present themselves, particularly on governance and because of the proximity of Kenya and Uganda—two Commonwealth countries—and given the great experience, for example, of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association in helping Governments in relation to their own administration.

States divide in different ways. At one extreme is the velvet divorce of the Czechs and Slovaks and at the other is Korea, where, after 60 years, North and South Korea still confront each other across the DMZ. The jury is out as to which of the two models the two Sudans will be closer to. There will certainly be a difficult transition. The wicked fairies at the birth of the new state ensured that there were many unresolved problems ready to flare into conflict. In 2005 the CPA, as the noble Lord, Lord Teverson, has said, left the borders not agreed, for example, on Abyei. The CPA stated that they should be based on a future consultation, but none has been held. There are 1,800 kilometres of border. There are some estimates that the disputed areas range up to 60%; the lowest expert estimate that I have seen is 20%. Of course, the concerns are different. At state level the concern is over the border, mainly related to the division of natural resources, particularly oil. At local level, and for the people, the concern is over access to water and pasturage because of seasonal migrations. Hence the case is for flexibility and soft borders, given the salience of that issue.

I am surprised that the first report did not highlight the expert work of a British-based NGO, Concordis International, with which I was involved over South Africa in the 1980s and Rwanda in the 1990s. I concede that in paragraphs 73 and 238 in the base report there is a recommendation that the EU should play a role in border-management issues, and in paragraph 159 a glancing reference is made to one EU Concordis project. In fact, though, Concordis International has been supported by the European Union since 2009, working to assist with conflict resolution and issues concerning border management and security. Now it has 15 staff based in Khartoum and 18 based in South Sudan, with three more soon to be deployed. The majority of the funding is of course from the EU’s EDF and Instruments for Stability. Activities facilitated by Concordis International include cross-border and migration conferences, the formation and training of peace committees, and capacity building for development projects. The recommendations that it has made from these activities on soft borders, seasonal migration and training for conflict resolution have been passed to the key stakeholders, including the AU panel mediating the conflict, and have been reflected in the September agreements. Perhaps the Minister will say a little about the expectations of those agreements and the key unresolved issues, such as the settlement of refugees and the pipeline projects. Currently the south is dependent on the good will of the north for its oil exports.

There has been a significant contribution by the EU to conflict resolution—prevention in both Sudans—as recommended in the committee’s report. There is, however, a case for saying that the projects could have benefited from an assurance of funding over a longer period. Again, the European Union has played a significant role in financing the work of the AU High-Level Implementation Panel. I understand that the EU delegation in Juba in the south is now in operation, after the delays mentioned in the report. Perhaps the Minister will confirm that.

The base report is valuable, but dated. The Concordis International experience of working with the EU has been very good. The EU has provided funding in a flexible way and shown great interest, enabling it to meet EU objectives based on its experience and modus operandi elsewhere. The EU has also been helpful in the management of grants and overcoming practical and bureaucratic problems.

After so many years of civil war the transition, since I first visited a rather more peaceful Sudan in 1967, was bound to be bumpy. Two highly vulnerable and fragile states emerged in July last year, and many serious political and economic problems remain. In the north the Republic of Sudan is the only country in the world led by an indicted war criminal. Only in September did the Republic withdraw its candidacy for the UN Human Rights Council at a time when its atrocities in Darfur were reported to be worsening. Surely this says something about the “Buggins’s turn” view of the African region in terms of the UN Human Rights Council, which may, alas, repeat the mistakes of its predecessor, the UN Commission.

A year after independence in the south, it is still talked of as a failed state. I cite the Africa Growth Institute at Brookings, the Atlantic and the special report in Le Monde on 7 July, all giving a very gloomy end-of-first-year report. Let us recognise that the EU is just one of the key players involved—others include the African Union, the UN, the US and China—but it should be given credit for its work. Obviously the two Sudans must make the key moves but the international community is playing a positive role in the transition. The base report and the follow-up report are therefore valuable, if dated. I very much hope that the Committee will return to this subject in future and will perhaps be able to give a more positive analysis of the two Sudans.

My Lords, those who have followed events in Sudan through the end of the civil war and the progress of the comprehensive peace agreement will share the disappointment of the Select Committee that many crucial issues left outstanding remain unresolved, in particular the failure fully and faithfully to implement the memorandum of understanding and the tripartite plan to expedite the unhindered delivery of humanitarian assistance in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile state, and the resolution of the issues of the final status of Abyei and disputed areas. The Security Council, the US mission to the United Nations, the High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Norway, the UK’s Foreign Secretary William Hague and the tripartite group have all voiced their concerns over the failure to address the continuing humanitarian crisis and have pledged their practical and political support for putting the tripartite agreements, signed in early August, into immediate effect.

This is not to deny the value of the nine agreements reached at the presidential summit on 27 September in Addis Ababa by the presidents of South Sudan and Sudan. In its press statement of 28 September, the UN Security Council recognised that:

“These agreements represent a major breakthrough for the establishment of peace, stability and prosperity in both Sudan and South Sudan and give cause for genuine hope that the peoples of these two countries will realise the fruits of lasting peace and friendship”.

The nine agreements covered oil, citizenship, border demarcation, border monitoring, economic co-operation and other matters. There are still important outstanding issues. The humanitarian situation in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile is critical. Hundreds of thousands of people are suffering, and this cannot continue any longer. The Government of Sudan must grant full, safe and immediate international humanitarian access and, in co-operation with the tripartite group, implement the MoU and the action plan without further delay.

As the Associate Parliamentary Group for Sudan and South Sudan—of which I am a vice-chair—discovered when it visited South Sudan in April, the new country faces a profound state-building challenge. International investment and skilled returnees are contributing to pockets of economic development and represent a foundation for future growth. The decision to shut down oil production was biting, with the Government set to reduce spending by over 25% from an already low base. Ministry budgets had been slashed and remaining spending was concentrated on salaries, with little left for investment and maintenance. In South Sudan, over 50% of the population lives below the poverty line. Less than 50% of children enrol in primary school and far fewer complete eight years of education, with just one teacher for every 117 children. There is the highest maternal mortality rate in the world, with a one-in-seven chance of a woman dying of pregnancy-related causes. There is only one qualified midwife for every 30,000 people.

Corruption became a major recurring theme throughout the APG delegation’s visit, with concerns expressed that it was becoming fairly ingrained within South Sudan’s fledgling systems. The mismanagement of public funds was a central concern, sitting at the hub of all others, fuelled by avarice and a sense of entitlement. The anti-corruption commission, established in 2005 with a mandate,

“to protect public property and investigate cases of corruption”,

and combat,

“administrative malpractices in public institutions”,

finds, however, that it lacks sufficient authority, independence and transparency. International non-governmental organisations including Global Witness, the Open Society Initiative for Eastern Africa, Oxfam, World Vision and others have all expressed concerns over the continuing humanitarian crisis and the lack of governance and capacity in South Sudan to address it.

There is a call to work more closely with the audit chamber of the South Sudan Government as a key player in the financial management of state funds. The Ministry of Finance needs support, and USAID is tutoring and mentoring the development of budget systems. Acts of Parliament are being passed to bring in financial control and management systems, but donor nations need to press for their implementation. It is no good just passing the Act; it has to be put into force. Global Witness has told me that it is very disappointed about the lack of transparency and accountability in oil governance, with no independent auditor provided. A petroleum law has been passed that calls for open tendering and for all beneficial ownership to be published. Global Witness’s consultant, Dana Wilkins, says:

“Sudan and South Sudan’s citizens are the ultimate owners of their countries’ natural resources. Yet they have been totally cut out of this new oil deal, with no way to verify the amount of oil and money that will be transferred between their governments”.

While the new agreement establishes mechanisms for internal information-sharing and auditing, there are no requirements for transit and financial data to be made public.

The United Kingdom and the EU have important roles to play in building institutions in South Sudan and Sudan and in concentrating on the constitutional process. Again, to quote Oxfam:

“South Sudan and Sudan do not have a European Champion right now and therefore are slightly off the EU Foreign Affairs Council radar”.

The EU has the policies and mechanisms in place and, for the first time, member states have agreed to a joint development programme in South Sudan. There is one joint strategy paper, agreed by the EU institutions and member states. Priority sectors are identified, with donors agreeing to complement each other in their implementation. This is a first and is part of the EU commitment to aid effectiveness but, so far, implementation has been postponed because of South Sudan’s oil crisis. Now the oil agreements are in place, there is an ideal opportunity for the EU and member states to make real progress.

There is a consensus that the humanitarian crisis will continue to dominate the South Sudan agenda for some time. Analysts predict that it will take two generations of long-term engagement to establish basic infrastructure and achieve significant and substantial development of basic services. There is a compelling need for continuing support in capacity-building at all levels of government to gain the benefits of a strong and empowered Parliament.

To this end, the Norwegian Government commissioned a report on training needs in the South Sudan National Legislative Assembly, which was conducted in August 2011—just one month after independence. The analysis was undertaken with the co-operation and support of the Association of European Parliamentarians with Africa, commonly known as AWEPA and of which I am a UK council member. This was part of a capacity-building exercise for this new legislative assembly, the main objective being to analyse its training needs. The majority of assembly staff did not have appropriate academic qualifications for their duties. Qualifications did not match their job descriptions or the departments in which they were deployed. There was a clear need for a wholesale retraining exercise.

As well as having inappropriate skills, over half the assembly staff stressed their concerns over a lack of proficiency in the English language. This was considered alarming, given the move from Arabic to the English language in South Sudan. A close second in skills deficit was that in technical skills, particularly information and communications technology. In the course of a short one-week exercise, the study identified a large capacity-inhibiting skills shortage with massive scope for retraining and confidence building, particularly through exposure to established parliamentary practices.

The National Legislative Assembly of South Sudan has now, with the support of the Netherlands Government and AWEPA, adopted a five-year strategic plan whose core aim, as described by the Assembly Speaker, is that by 2016:

“The National Legislative Assembly will be valued as the central institution in promoting democracy, effectively holding the Executive to account, scrutinising proposed legislation and representing the diverse views of the people of South Sudan”.

The strategic plan is clearly fundamental to South Sudan’s progress towards sustainable government. Recognising that the UK, through DfID, is a major donor in South Sudan, I would like the Minister, either in her response or later by letter, to tell the Committee whether DfID is aware of the strategic plan for South Sudan; if so, how it figures in DfID’s business plan, given that Sudan is one of the UK Government’s top priorities in foreign policy; and what DfID plans to contribute to capacity building and structural support in the National Legislative Assembly, through what means and over what timescale.

My Lords, following a parliamentary visit to South Sudan last April, I should like to focus on the new country. It will come as no surprise to some noble Lords here that I should also like to focus on agriculture there.

I realise that all the political emphasis now is on coping with the immediate problems and the crisis— I do not think that that is too strong a word—that currently exists in South Sudan: very little food; no real infrastructure to aid the delivery of supplies; no money; too many people running around with guns; too many threats to stability from both without and within; too much corruption; and both national and local government often more real in theory than in practice.

However, as Sub-Committee C’s report of June 2011 made clear, and as we discovered on our visit last April, there is tremendous potential to develop the agriculture of South Sudan as a real tool for development. For a start, we saw a lot of seemingly fertile soil that, to my farmer’s eye, has not been depleted of nutrients as with so many soils elsewhere in Africa. We also discovered that the whole country has masses of water, mostly lying in aquifers throughout the country, just under the surface and easily accessible with only a small amount of investment and help.

So my plea to DfID, the US, the UN and others, including the South Sudanese Government themselves, is: while dealing with the immediate crisis, please do not forget the essential role that agriculture can play in the medium to long-term future. It is agriculture that will kick-start the South Sudanese economy and keep it self-sufficient and resilient, and it is profitable agriculture that will give its women better status and also give those women the nutritional means to keep their children healthy, as well as the money to keep them educated.

Right now, if building roads to help the delivery of aid and supplies, build them with a view to getting future agricultural produce to markets and city centres. If distributing emergency aid and food, consider doing so from well constructed centres that will in future provide the much needed market hubs for those growing food locally. If storing emergency food, build the necessary cold stores to last and in locations of future agricultural production. If much needed water supplies are being constructed for sanitation and life in various venues around South Sudan, then think seriously about future agricultural needs in the way they are designed and located.

There are many ways to think about farming when dealing with today’s tempestuous times but, above all, because knowledge and training are the absolute key to agricultural success in sub-Saharan Africa, start now to educate those from all over the country who are to be the top of your pyramid in the pyramid selling of the necessary knowledge and training. It is only in this way that we will be able to reach out to every community in South Sudan, all of whom are needed to help that country to fulfil its enormous agricultural potential.

I came away in April with the feeling that a growing dependency culture is developing in South Sudan, which is worrying. However, fostering better agriculture, if done in the right way, can foster resilience and self-sufficiency, not dependency. It takes a long time to get an agricultural economy going from scratch, so the sooner we get started, the better.

Finally, I realise that many of the recent political efforts have concentrated on trying to get the oil flowing again so that the South Sudanese Government have funds to operate and can get things done. However, oil, too, can be a distraction, unless it is used to kick-start a real economy. Nigeria and Ghana make two interesting comparatives in this respect. Nigeria had oil and the Government, and possibly tens of thousands of people, did well out of it, but the other 159 million, until recently, failed to develop out of a precarious subsistence existence. Ghana, not quite next door, did not have oil and had the sense to develop its agriculture, and thus this year has a double figure growth rate shared by much of the population. So South Sudan must use its oil revenues in partnership with others, including the UK and the EU, to kick-start its farm production. Like Tanzania, “Agriculture First” must be the slogan for South Sudan if it is to realise its true potential.

My Lords, the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of York spoke in some detail of the pressing need for a peaceful and honourable solution to both the conflict that exists between Sudan and Southern Sudan and the internal conflicts within Sudan itself, not least those affecting the South Kordofan and Blue Nile regions. However, whether such a political solution is quickly forthcoming or not, there is currently, as the noble Lord, Lord Chidgey, pointed out, a severe humanitarian need in these same regions—a need that, sadly, is largely unknown to many who live in the West, especially when we compare it to other humanitarian crises of recent years. It is a need that cries out to be responded to effectively, and now.

Last week I had the opportunity of meeting Bishop Andudu Adam Elnail, the Bishop of Kadugli, and heard at first hand how, one year into the renewed conflict between the Government of Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, communities in South Kordofan and Blue Nile continue to experience significant humanitarian needs against a backdrop of severely limited humanitarian access. In South Kordofan there are approximately 400,000 internally displaced persons, more than 300,000 of them in areas controlled by the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement and almost 100,000 in Government-controlled areas. In the Blue Nile region 300,000 people have been affected, resulting in some 80,000 refugees in South Sudan and 32,000 in Ethiopia. The situation is deteriorating day by day because of poor harvests and high food prices, a situation that follows two years when harvests were simply not possible due to the conflict.

Despite the provisions of the tripartite agreement between the United Nations, the African Union and the League of Arab States, as yet no agreement has been reached on conducting a needs assessment in the SPLM-North areas. The Government of Sudan have deployed indiscriminate aerial bombardment against military and civilian targets, and for the past year they have not permitted any humanitarian assistance to enter SPLM-N-controlled areas. In these circumstances it would be good to know what Her Majesty’s Government and the EU can do to enlist the support of those countries such as those in the Gulf, which have influence in Khartoum, to exert pressure to ensure progress in the humanitarian access negotiations. In the absence of progress in such negotiations, it would be good to hear what other options are being considered to ensure that humanitarian needs are met.

Among the most pressing needs are effective aid, especially in food security, which in turn requires agricultural inputs and veterinary services, and I endorse all the comments just made by the noble Lord, Lord Cameron, but also health assistance, including support for EPI—expanded programme on immunisation—activities, basic medicine and support to health workers at the level of primary health care. Looking to the longer term, there is also a need for educational aid, which is often overlooked in the act of trying to meet the immediate needs of the present day, not simply in the context of the Sudan. At present the proportion of humanitarian aid for education globally is just 2% of the whole. There seems to be a general consensus among aid agencies that, as a percentage, this needs to be at least doubled. That in turn requires a reaffirmation of the international community’s commitment to universal primary education, both in the lead-up to 2015 and beyond; commitment to learning for all beyond 2015, including for children in conflict-affected and fragile states and those caught up in emergencies; and, to this end, the improved delivery of education in emergencies by establishing pooled funds, with a single policy framework that combines rapid financing for devolved school construction, teacher recruitment and in-service training, support for local communities and the development of capacity at all levels of government. I welcome the comments of the noble Lord, Lord Jay, on the need for more effective donor co-ordination.

Coming back to education, what is needed is education in literacy and skills but also education, without indoctrination, in basic human rights and the ways of co-operation, something that is very difficult when enmity is longstanding and when a young country is, understandably, trying to avoid being told what to do by the wider world. So there is an important issue to do with the nature of education aid in the medium term. It is challenging, and yet such education support is vital for long-term stability and, hence, recovery.

This brings me, briefly, to the potential contribution of the churches. Even though many within the international NGO sector recognise the value of churches and other faith groups at community level and their long-term engagement, there are still huge obstacles to overcome in order to establish operational partnerships. International humanitarian mechanisms do not currently provide space for engagement with non-NGO-shaped actors. There is often a feeling that the Church should come to the NGO forums, rather than the NGOs seeking out the local wisdom of local faith leaders and networks. Churches, like all of civil society, have struggled to build financial, communications and technical capacity—although, compared to local government, their capacity is strong—so new models for accompanying them need to be found. An understanding of the social and spiritual capital of local faith communities needs to be part of strategic planning, and innovative opportunities for engagement should be tested out.

I welcome the fact that the Department for International Development guidelines recognise that local churches are key partners and players in the delivery of aid, including education, even though the same guidelines tend to oversimplify the situation by stating that Sudan is now a largely homogeneous Arab Muslim state. That this latter statement is not true is demonstrated not only by the two major conflicts already referred to—not to mention the continuing conflict in Darfur, which is a case of multiple and diverse ethnicities, although mainly Muslim—but also by the continued persecution experienced by the local Church, something to which the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of York has already referred.

However, although DfID recognises the role of the Church, it is highly unfortunate that UNHCR and other NGOs do not always adopt the same policy. The churches and other religious bodies have a key role to play in both delivery and mediation, and yet often the UNHCR treats them as special interest groups without a general humanitarian agenda. Such an approach not only risks marginalising significant groups that work for the common good but can also exacerbate tension if people believe that they are the subject of discrimination. A genuine partnership here could be so effective, with church leaders often having the potential to act as honest brokers in the local community as well as delivering local aid, especially education. The Archbishop and Lambeth Palace are deeply committed to welcoming and supporting the upcoming UNHCR High Commissioner’s Dialogue on faith to be held this December, as well as to an international interfaith research project called the Joint Learning Initiative on Faith and Local Communities.

I therefore conclude by inviting Her Majesty’s Government to encourage the UNHCR to recognise the crucial role of churches and other religious bodies in places such as Sudan and South Sudan in building the broad coalition that is needed to ensure that vital humanitarian aid, including educational aid, is delivered to the places where it is required.

My Lords, I welcome the noble Baroness, Lady Warsi, to her new ministerial responsibilities, as others have done. I couple with that my thanks and, I am sure, those of many other noble Lords, to the noble Lord, Lord Howell of Guildford, who dealt with these issues over such a long period and with patience and diligence, and always with great kindness in the way in which he responded to the vexed inquiries that many of us made to him. The noble Baroness, of course, has personal knowledge of Sudan, having travelled there to negotiate the release of Gillian Gibbons, the British teacher who was arrested after her class named a teddy bear after the Prophet Muhammad. I know that the noble Baroness is deeply committed to religious tolerance, to co-existence, and to finding ways of resolving the kinds of conflicts that your Lordships have been discussing today. We should all be extremely pleased that she has these new ministerial responsibilities, and we all, I am sure, wish her well.

Earlier we heard from the noble Lord, Lord Jay, about how Darfur has often been swept to one side in the concerns about north-south relationships. That is true, and I want to return to that issue shortly in my remarks. I begin by referring to the situation in South Kordofan, as the most reverend Primate, the right reverend Prelate and the noble Lord, Lord Chidgey, have done. I have raised this issue on the Floor of the House with my noble friend Lady Cox, who I am sure will expend a lot of her remarks on that question when she comes to speak.

A meeting was held earlier today with members of the All-Party Group on Sudan, of which I am an officer, along with the noble Lord, Lord Chidgey, and others who are here. I was struck during that meeting with senior officials from the Foreign Office by how immediate and contemporary these concerns are. As a result of a reference that they made to an article that appeared in yesterday’s Guardian, I took the trouble to obtain a copy of that article. I have not seen the YouTube video that apparently has been placed on the internet to which the article refers, but it says:

“Dramatic video footage and satellite images have revealed Sudanese security forces are waging a violent campaign in the Nuba mountains comparable to war crimes in Darfur … The Satellite Sentinel Project … shows the terrifying ordeal of a teenager being tied up and interrogated at gunpoint as a village goes up in flames”.

It goes on to say:

“The SSP said a joint unit of Sudanese army, militia and police forces burned and looted Gardud al Badry”.

John Prendergast, co-founder of the Enough Project, a partner in the SSP, was quoted in the Guardian report just yesterday as saying:

“‘We are seeing a repeat of Darfur without the international witnesses’ … He added, ‘Through this campaign of targeted violence, which amounts to crimes against humanity, and its denial of humanitarian access, the government of Sudan is displacing thousands of civilians and contributing to insecurity in the region’”.

Four days ago, an AFP report stated:

“Tanks, artillery and helicopters staged a show of force in the capital of Sudan’s South Kordofan state on Friday, official media said, after unprecedented and deadly rebel shelling of the town”.

The military parade of force was led by Ahmed Haroun, who, along with Field-Marshal Omar al-Bashir, referred to earlier in our debate as president of Sudan and the governor of Kordofan, is also indicted as a war criminal by the International Criminal Court. As I raised with officials earlier today, I hope that we will hear from the Minister what we are doing to ensure that we are taking witness statements from those who have been driven into South Sudan from South Kordofan. Many are in refugee camps. It is perfectly possible, therefore, to take first-hand witness statements of the depredations that have occurred while they have been there. Aerial bombardment continues even while we are meeting.

I turn specifically to Darfur because we are about to reach the 10th anniversary of that conflict, and I hope that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office will take the opportunity, when we reach the anniversary in February next year, to mark it with a series of events, as the all-party group intends to do. Today is a good day to ask the Minister what has happened to Darfur, as did my noble friend Lord Jay and the noble Lord, Lord Anderson, in their remarks. Why is Darfur forgotten while violence is not only continuing, but when one report earlier this month stated that this is,

“the bloodiest year yet in the region”?

Why is the international community so supine in demanding an end to the violence? Since my visit to Darfur in 2004, and the report which I then published then, entitled If This Isn’t Genocide, What Is? 2 million people have been displaced. About 200,000 to 300,000 people have been killed and 90% of the villages have been razed to the ground; and the situation continues to be bleak. Just this week, the acting head of Darfur’s peacekeeping mission, Ms Aichatou Mindjaouldou, highlighted the recent alarming rise in violence with high civilian casualties, calling the trend an “alarming development”. Between 25 and 27 September, more than 70 civilians were killed in Hashaba with reports of aerial bombardments there as well as in South Kordofan. Further west, four Nigerian peacekeepers were killed on 2 October in an ambush near El-Geneina in west Darfur, the area I visited eight years ago.

In the context of the EU sub-committee’s remit—at paragraph 6 the report refers briefly to the “extremely serious” situation in the region—the EU is a member of the Joint Commission which is one of two ceasefire monitoring and implementation mechanisms provided for in the July 2011 Doha Document for Peace in Darfur. It was tasked with resolving disputes referred to it by the Ceasefire Commission, the other mechanism. Perhaps in the sub-committee’s future work, it might be interested to find out why we have failed to put those instruments into operation.

The failure to create some peace has left approximately 3.2 million people in Darfur currently receiving food aid, including some 1.7 million IDPs registered in camps. As I said, Darfur is a dangerous and lawless region. There are fears that the operations of the NGOs and humanitarian agencies that deliver this aid will face increasing difficulty due not only to increasing violence, but also to deliberate attempts by the Government of Sudan to restrict access and impede operations. We have already seen the expulsion of numerous NGOs from Sudan over the past few years, 13 in 2009 and four this year from east Sudan. The situation that is developing there is extremely ominous as well. If the space for humanitarian operations in Darfur continues to narrow, what will be the implications for the millions of people dependent on aid? If the remaining NGOs are made to leave, how will the gap be filled?

Let me mention one of those NGOs. Earlier in the year, with my noble friend Lord Sandwich, I attended a meeting in your Lordships’ House which was addressed by the remarkable Patricia Parker MBE, who is the chief executive officer and chairman of trustees of Kids for Kids, a charity that works in Darfur and whose patrons include the noble Baroness, Lady Rendell, and the noble Lord, Lord Cope. Mrs Parker believes, as I do, that Darfur is has become out of sight and out of mind as the juggernaut of the world media and campaigning activism has simply decided to move on. At the Conservative Party Conference, the Foreign Secretary William Hague specifically highlighted the use of rape as a weapon of war and rightly cited Syria, Rwanda and Bosnia, but not Darfur, where there continue to be almost weekly reports of rape. Why was there this omission and why has it gone out of mind?

In Darfur, rape has led to HIV becoming a major issue. I was sent a photograph last week of a dying little boy in El Fasher hospital who had already seen both his parents die of HIV. Before the conflict erupted in Darfur 10 years ago, HIV was unknown. Since then, year by year, rape has been used as a weapon of war with horrifying consequences. This conflict has been fuelled by a regime whose leaders are indicted by the ICC for crimes against humanity. The Sudanese air force continues to bomb its own people weekly and a recent report from the organisation Waging Peace shows that government-sponsored attacks are increasing in their regularity as the regime continues to work through its local proxies.

It would be good to hear from the Minister what she is doing to ensure that Field Marshall Omar al-Bashir is brought to justice. Have we supported the suggestion made on 5 June by the International Criminal Court prosecutor, Luis Merino Ocampo, as he relinquished his post? He argued that the UN Security Council should consider asking member states and regional organisations to conduct operations to arrest Sudanese officials indicted by the ICC. Is that something which Her Majesty’s Government would be prepared to support?

As the conflict has raged it has led not only to systematic rape, it has decimated the ability of the people to feed themselves and their children. We heard a very pertinent contribution by my noble friend Lord Cameron on the issue of agriculture and the importance of sustainability in terms of people being able to feed themselves. Let me give an illustration of the scale of the problem. Last year, Hilat Ibrahim, a village of 1,500 people, lost 37 children to malnutrition. One in every 12 families has lost a child, and Kids for Kids reports that the majority of families in the villages have not been able to save enough seed to plant this season. Children are facing horrendous conditions in the villages of Darfur, yet again the international media is sadly silent.

In February 2011, Henry Bellingham, then the Minister for Africa, said that,

“we will not be taking our eye off Darfur, as we work tirelessly to establish a lasting peace in that troubled province”.—[Official Report, Commons, 1/2/11; col. 724.]

Yet whatever the words, the violence is increasing, HIV is rampant, children are malnourished and the world has moved on. Even at the height of the violence and when Darfur was in the headlines, aid did not reach two-thirds of the population. The international community claimed that its aid programme was a success because the aim was to help those people who had fled to the camps. But what of the families struggling to survive in the villages in rural areas? The months ahead are set to be the hardest ever.

Over half the population of Darfur has no water source. Almost a quarter of the population, including children, walk more than six miles to reach water in winter. In the summer “hungry” months, many walk more than 20 miles. Walking for water continues to be dangerous, with frequent reports of attacks. UNAMID has at times provided escorts to groups of women from the camps, but not for the women in the villages. With failed crops, women have to scavenge not just for water, but for wood and wild food such as mukheit, which is toxic, but anything is better than nothing if you are trying to survive. It is harder to find scarce food in a group, and still they are attacked. Healthcare in villages has collapsed.

UNAMID is the world’s most expensive peacekeeping force, yet it is regarded by most Darfuris as siding with their oppressors in Khartoum, so ineffective have been its operations. Moreover, its capacity is about to be cut. On 31 July, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 2063, renewing the mandate of UNAMID for a year. The resolution authorised a reconfiguration of UNAMID to include 16,200 military personnel, 2,310 police personnel and 17 formed police units of a maximum of 140 personnel each. Prior to the adoption, the council was briefed by the joint AU-UN Special Representative for Darfur, Ibrahim Gambari. Mr Gambari said that implementation of the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur was behind schedule and that a new implementation timeline had been created. UNAMID, the world’s largest peacekeeping force, has received a lot of criticism for its failure to protect civilians, a lack of clarity in its protection mandate, and some suspicions from Darfuris that UNAMID is too close to the Government. However, as with the humanitarian agencies, UNAMID has been a victim of the number of restrictions and bureaucratic impediments to its operations by the Government of Sudan. Darfur, as I have said in every respect, is difficult terrain. Its new iteration consists of a number of cuts to troop numbers to reflect the contested suggestion that there had been a “drastic decrease” in the number of people killed in clashes and to enable it to react more rapidly. This does not accord with the description of 2012 as the “bloodiest year yet” in the region.

I would like to hear from the Minister about the renewal of the UNAMID mandate and whether Her Majesty’s Government supported the reductions in the number of peacekeepers in Darfur. What steps have been taken to implement the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur, to which I have already referred? Can she tell us how the UK has highlighted other critical issues, including the escalation in violence that I have mentioned—the attacks against civilians and the use of sexual or gender-based violence? What of the failure of other rebel movements to sign the Doha document? What of the deaths of 10 UNAMID peacekeepers in the past year and the prevention of humanitarian agencies from assessing those most in need?

Given that Khartoum has expelled most international humanitarian groups, whose presence is desperately needed, what representations are we making to the Government of Sudan, the rebel groups and the international partners to urge greater access for the humanitarian organisations? What has been the result of those representations? What assistance might we consider extending beyond our current programmes to communities struggling to survive in rural villages in Darfur? Will we commit to adjusting the balance of spend on bilateral assistance in Darfur towards greater funding for sustainable development projects in rural villages, and encourage other donors to do likewise?

What support will we give to IDP families to enable them to settle in host villages, enabling them to be assimilated in the community through integrated projects? Kids for Kids has a unique “welcome home” package that is sustainable and does that, and I hope that the Minister will agree to meet Mrs Parker to discuss that important work. Can the Minister tell us, either today or through correspondence, what we are doing to promote civil society in Darfur? Finally, what is the Minister’s assessment of the current state of this continuing conflict?

The situation in Darfur, and more broadly in Sudan and South Sudan, requires sustained high-level political action by the European Union and Her Majesty’s Government for years to come. As we approach the 10-year anniversary of the beginning of the conflict in Darfur, we must also remember that this area of the country has been consistently and intentionally marginalised for decades. It will take decades to build peace and stability, and a long-term view of development is essential. Now is most certainly not the time to take our eyes off Darfur.

My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Teverson, for securing this important debate. I also congratulate my noble friend Lady Warsi on her new appointment. As someone who speaks periodically on foreign affairs, I look forward to her active involvement in these matters. I also commend the noble Lords who sit on the EU Committee for producing such a thorough and informative report, which of course preceded the follow-up report that we are debating today.

Some years ago I visited Juba and have always taken an interest in the region. The situation in Sudan and South Sudan is a major concern for the citizens of those countries and among the African diaspora. It is important to recognise that there is a regional as well as a global dimension to possible further hostilities between Sudan and South Sudan. The international community must continue to take interest and be involved in all issues relating to the two countries. Therefore, I wholeheartedly support the committee’s view that the international community must play a greater role in maintaining peace.

When South Sudan became the world’s newest country last year, owing to the 2005 comprehensive peace agreement, a number of issues remained unresolved with Khartoum. The economically sensitive and disputed areas of oil production and transit fees had essentially led to a stagnation of both economies, since South Sudan stopped pumping oil in January. Both Sudan and South Sudan are heavily reliant on oil revenues: 75% of the oil lies in South Sudan but all the pipelines and processing facilities are in Sudan.

Like Members on all sides of your Lordships’ House, I welcome the recent progress made on this issue. I commend the work of Thabo Mbeki, Pierre Buyoya and Abdulsalami Abubakar, the African Union mediators and former Presidents of South Africa, Burundi and Nigeria respectively, in working tirelessly to achieve this breakthrough. However, I would like to see a resolution to the dispute over the oil-producing Abyei region, preferably through a referendum. It is vital that this should take place once issues surrounding voter eligibility have been resolved.

Darfur remains a source of tension between both countries. My own charity, the Sheikh Abdullah Foundation, has undertaken humanitarian work in Darfur. Rebel groups in Darfur have joined forces with rebels in the Sudanese states of Blue Nile and South Kordofan. The shelling last week of Kadugli in South Kordofan led to the deaths of five people. I welcome the decision by the Sudanese Government to allow relief supplies to enter South Kordofan and Blue Nile states. Sudan has accused South Sudan of backing the Darfur rebel groups, which Juba denies, although a number of reports suggest that it is supporting the rebels operating across the border in Blue Nile and South Kordofan. I would be grateful if the Minister could shed some light on this matter.

The humanitarian situation in South Sudan is a cause for grave concern. It has been reported that children at the Yusuf Batil refugee camp in South Sudan are dying at more than twice the rate that is internationally recognised as an emergency. On average, consistently three or four children under the age of five are dying each day. Yusuf Batil is one of four refugee camps in Maban county and houses more than 100,000 people fleeing the fighting in Blue Nile state. Approximately one-third of all children at the camp are suffering from malnutrition. The lack of clean water and adequate sanitation facilities are also contributing to the high rate of infant mortality.

I wholeheartedly support the work of the Department for International Development in both Sudan and South Sudan. These efforts are changing the lives of many impoverished citizens in both countries. I commend the refugee and aid agencies that are providing food and healthcare to the thousands of displaced persons. I may add that there are several Muslim charities, including Islamic Relief, undertaking vital humanitarian work in South Sudan, where the people are mainly Christians and non-Muslims. These Muslim charities have in fact formed the Muslim Charities Forum to co-ordinate the work of the various charities.

As a landlocked nation, South Sudan must find ways of facilitating trade with its immediate neighbours. The South Sudanese Government have opened a 192 kilometre- long highway, which connects Juba with Nimule on the Ugandan border. The highway goes on from Nimule to meet Kampala, the capital of Uganda, and then runs through Kenya to the port of Mombasa. This highway project, which was funded by the United States Agency for International Development, is expected to significantly boost trade with east Africa. I particularly welcome this infrastructure project because it will reduce the cost of importing goods from Kenya and Uganda, the respective countries of my birth and where I spent my formative years.

I also welcome the announcement by the South Sudanese Government to launch an airline, which reflects the determination by the Government in Juba to address the current challenges surrounding infrastructure. At present, South Sudan has only 300 kilometres of paved roads. China has invested heavily in Sudan’s oilfields where its companies PetroChina and Sinopec are partners of Sudapet, which is owned by the Sudanese Government. China has also made investments in South Sudan, where the Government have announced that they will be receiving a $158 million loan from China to finish building a new airport in Juba.

In making reference to the follow-up report, I share the view that China must ensure that Chinese companies operating in both Sudan and South Sudan are responsible corporate citizens. I would be grateful if the Minister could inform the Committee about the steps that Her Majesty’s Government are taking to encourage China to play a more positive role in the region. The International Monetary Fund stated in its most recent report that South Sudan is failing to reach its economic potential owing to weak state institutions and poor infrastructure. It is therefore essential that Juba invests oil revenues wisely in order to remedy this situation. The stalemate over oil revenue revealed that the economic fortunes of Sudan and South Sudan remain linked. It is vital that Sudan and South Sudan reach agreements on all disputed areas so that both nations can prosper.

The British Government were active members of the comprehensive peace negotiations and the Darfur peace accords; they have an obligation, therefore, to work towards a favourable outcome for citizens in both countries. The international community has a responsibility to strive towards achieving stability in Sudan and South Sudan through building a multinational coalition that produces lasting change.

My Lords, I, too, thank the committee for producing this valuable report. It is a very good analysis of the issues faced by Sudan and South Sudan. I need to declare an interest: I am a trustee of Anglican International Development, which is working in South Sudan. I visited South Sudan again in September, about three weeks ago; I met Archbishop Daniel Deng and a number of other bishops. I fully endorse the comments made by the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of York and the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Exeter about the key role that the Church can play in international development generally, but specifically in South Sudan.

My comments today do not concern the continuing unrest in the border region or in Darfur—however serious that is, it has been well articulated this evening—other than to reinforce the message that, notwithstanding the dreadful suffering that continues as a consequence of the strife, it is a complete distraction at this present time from the desperate need for political stability and economic development.

The lack of oil revenue this year as a result of the tap being turned off has had a significant negative impact on the economy of South Sudan and has eroded the nation of vital resources at this critical time. There is a shortage of fuel and many projects are being seriously delayed. If I can refer to paragraphs 250 and 251 in the report, it is very pleasing to see that a number of EU member states now have a presence in Juba. Our own embassy is up and running and I had very helpful meetings with the ambassador and representatives from DfID. However, the situation is extremely serious, as has been reinforced by all speakers this evening. South Sudan is stuck at the bottom of global development indices and by most measures it is still going backwards. There is an imposing sign on the outskirts of Juba advertising the anti-corruption commission, in front of an empty piece of land. The noble Lord, Lord Chidgey, referred to this. The commission does exist in embryonic form but has an uphill task in undertaking its role.

Paragraph 269 of the report is a critical statement about the need for good governance and a well-functioning justice system, free from corruption. It expresses concern that no major donor has emerged to lead on this. That must be addressed. It would be highly irresponsible of us and of the EU and the United States if we did not do all that we can to influence South Sudan in establishing good governance and good justice systems. Some progress is being made but we must seize this unique moment in time to establish and achieve the outcomes that are necessary for the long-term interests of the people of South Sudan.

The report makes a very good point about the lack of coordination to which other speakers have referred. Lots of very well meaning representatives of NGOs and aid organisations are falling over themselves in their desire to help. Coordination is absolutely critical and desperately needed. AID is working with a number of potential investors in agriculture in South Sudan as well as trying to help small-scale farmers. I absolutely endorse the comments made by the noble Lord, Lord Cameron of Dillington—the potential is huge.

The need, however, is very clear. The people produce very little of their own food—the Minister estimated about 7%. Inflation is rampant and I am amazed that even more people who have no income are not dying of starvation or malnutrition. The need to diversify their economy to become less dependent on oil is very clear. The response to the report in paragraph 256 states that the Government aim to encourage economic growth and diversification in Sudan and South Sudan and the creation of conditions for private sector investment to generate employment for the people. This is absolutely correct and needs to happen. However—I need to choose my words carefully here—the impact of a generation growing up with civil war, a lack of education and a huge dependence culture, which is not just emerging but is endemic, has led to a lack of a work ethic in the men in South Sudan. Employing Sudanese people is a real challenge and many organisations are taking their own staff to South Sudan or recruiting staff in Uganda or Kenya rather than recruiting people in South Sudan. That is a real concern and there is a desperate need for further teaching and training.

There is little or no infrastructure and, until there are some decent roads, at least between the key population centres—which reinforces what the noble Lord, Lord Cameron said—and into Uganda and Kenya, it will be very difficult to attract the level of inward investment needed to diversify the economy. The two need to go hand in hand. It is a massive issue and must be a priority for international development support in conjunction with the Government of South Sudan. There were compounds full of earth-moving equipment standing idle three weeks ago.

South Sudan is a high priority. We must not relax our efforts to assist and to help to influence the transition from civil war to independence, to stable and sound governance with good healthcare and education facilities and economic stability. I hope that our Government will seriously address these issues. We have a huge responsibility. I apologise to noble Lords but I have a long-standing commitment and may have to leave before the end of debate because of the overrunning of the previous debate.

My Lords, I add my congratulations to the noble Lord, Lord Teverson, and his comprehensive introduction to this debate. I welcome the noble Baroness, Lady Warsi, to her ministerial position in this capacity. I will focus predominantly on first-hand evidence obtained during a visit to South Sudan with the Humanitarian Aid Relief Trust—or HART—in April this year. We visited Agok, near Abyei, and three camps in the border areas of Sudan and South Sudan at Yida, Doro and Renk. However, I refer very briefly first to nine agreements reached in Addis Ababa, which address many of the issues highlighted in the EU follow-up report and are to be warmly welcomed as a hopeful sign of a major breakthrough in the relations between Sudan and South Sudan. I also welcome the significant progress with regard to reopening the oil pipelines and the distribution of oil revenues.

In this context, I return very briefly to the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Trimble, regarding the Government of South Sudan’s concern over criticism of their decision to cut off the pipeline, believing that the international community did not appreciate its reasons for doing so. These included the Republic of Sudan’s imposition of ludicrously high transfer fees for oil and unprovoked bombings by Sudan across the international border into South Sudan. I can testify to the reality of those bombardments across the international border, having been there at the time of the bombings near Agok and of Bentiu in Unity state.

The Government of South Sudan felt, I believe understandably, that the only leverage available to them to put pressure on the Government of Sudan was to cut off the pipeline, although they fully appreciated this would bring hardship to their own people as well as the people in Sudan.

I turn to our visit to the borders of South Sudan, South Kordofan and Blue Nile. As the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Exeter has so powerfully highlighted, a humanitarian catastrophe exists. While we were there half a million people had fled from their homes in South Kordofan and Blue Nile because of constant bombardment by the Government of Sudan. Many were hiding in caves with deadly snakes, with little or no access to food, water, shelter or medicine. They said that they feared bombs more than snakes. Civilians have also been too terrified by the bombs to return to their villages to plant or reap harvests. They have been suffering food shortages, causing acute malnutrition. Humanitarian conditions for these internally displaced people deteriorated even further with the problems associated with the rainy season.

A recent assessment in South Kordofan found the nutrition situation verging on critical—81.5% of households are surviving on only one meal a day compared with only 9.5% a year ago and zero two years ago; 65.7% of households have less than one week’s food stock and a significantly smaller than normal harvest is expected as civilians have been unable to harvest crops. The situation is exacerbated by the Khartoum Government continuing to deny humanitarian aid organisations access to the civilian victims of its military offences. There is now an urgent need for targeted supplementary and therapeutic feeding programmes in South Kordofan, with supplementary feeding for children aged six to 59 months and similar needs for the displaced people in Blue Nile.

Given the scale of the humanitarian crisis and Khartoum’s continuing failure to allow aid organisations to access all those in need, will Her Majesty’s Government consider, as a matter of great urgency, provision of funding for life-saving aid for those in need in South Kordofan and Blue Nile? Like my noble friend from Merlin, I must also declare an interest as CEO of HART, currently working in South Sudan, and previously working in the Nuba Mountains of South Kordofan.

I want also to ask the Minister if Her Majesty’s Government will join with others to put more effective pressure on Khartoum to allow and ensure immediate access by aid organisations to all in need in Sudan.

When we visited the camps in South Sudan at Yida and Doro, for people who had been forced to flee into South Sudan from South Kordofan and Blue Nile because of aerial bombardment, the humanitarian situation was already dire and with the rainy season it has become truly catastrophic. According to the UN Refugee Agency, there are now at least 174,000 refugees from South Kordofan and Blue Nile in South Sudan’s Unity and Upper Nile states. In some areas more than 40% are children. Local Sudanese aid workers are reporting high incidences of diarrhoea, skin infections, malaria and typhoid.

According to the UN Refugee Agency, last week about 100 Sudanese refugees from South Kordofan were arriving daily in Yida camp and with the end of the rainy season approaching, UNHCR is expecting an increasing deluge of refugees to arrive.

We also visited the camp at Doro for civilians who have had to flee from Blue Nile to escape aerial bombardment. Conditions were as serious there as those at Yida and much of the neighbouring camp at Jamam is now under water, increasing the risk of malaria and epidemic diseases such as cholera and typhoid.

Finally, we visited the camp at Renk, where civilians deemed “southerners” by the Government of Sudan had been expelled from their homes and were living in horrendous conditions. They were allowed to bring only a few possessions and had built pathetically fragile shelters which were no match for the rains. Many had not wanted to leave their homes or jobs in Sudan, many had never lived in the south. Sudan’s policy of expulsion has caused immense suffering for thousands of civilians.

Will Her Majesty’s Government make representations to the Government of Sudan about the problems still affecting those who were affected by this very disturbing policy? There is a need for an honest appraisal of responsibility for the problems suffered by both nations. Too often there is an implied attribution of moral equivalence with regard to the Governments of Sudan and South Sudan. The ICC-indicted president of Sudan continues to inflict remorseless military offences against his own people in Darfur, South Kordofan and the Blue Nile and to bomb targets across the border in South Sudan. By contrast, South Sudan does not attack its own civilians, nor expel them from the land whatever their race or religion. A failure to call the Government in Khartoum to account for its asymmetrical aggression and systematic violations of human rights of its own people may be seen as a licence for impunity.

Of course, it is also important to recognise many problems in South Sudan, such as inter-tribal conflicts, lawlessness and some disturbing corruption. These need to be addressed. However, the point was emphasised by speakers meeting at Chatham House yesterday that it should be appreciated that violence, such as that which occurred in Jonglei State is inevitable in all such post-conflict situations. It is remarkable, they also emphasised, that there has not been more violence. A similar point was made in a joint statement by the Sudanese Anglican and Roman Catholic archbishops whose people on the ground, including mediators, emphasised that there have been some improvements. That is indeed a great achievement, given the very catastrophic situation prevailing in so much of the country.

In conclusion, the recent agreements offer hope for significant developments to promote much needed peace between the two nations. However, the international community, including the European Union, will need to maintain support, encouragement and apply pressure, where necessary, to ensure that the agreements are fulfilled and that neither Government renege on commitments already given. There is also a need to encourage both Governments to make progress on the outstanding issues, such as those concerning Abyei, South Kordofan and Blue Nile. Let us hope that a subsequent EU report will be able to record positive change and a scenario of hope for the peoples of Sudan and South Sudan who have suffered too much for too long. We all look forward to that day.

My Lords, I, too, pay tribute to the commitment shown by the EU Committee to the situation in Sudan and South Sudan. We have been provided with a very welcome opportunity to take stock, which Members here this evening have shown they are very capable of doing. I, too, welcome the noble Baroness, Lady Warsi, and wish her well in her new role. I pay tribute, too, as the noble Lord, Lord Alton, did, to the work of the noble Lord, Lord Howell.

The misery and suffering of the people of Sudan and South Sudan is relentless. There are continuing insecurities, humanitarian crises, lack of resources and grave shortages of food. Roads are not being constructed, despite the fact that they are crucial to building unity, security and economic development in that country. Education and health systems are not functioning and water and sanitation needs are not being met. In fact, South Sudan is really living on the edge of disaster and faces perpetual and manifold crises and emergencies.

Against that background, the African Union-promoted agreement, guided by Thabo Mbeke’s African panel made in Addis last month, is worth applauding, as noble Lords have done. But all success now depends on its full and faithful implementation and the urgent use of what could be a brief and positive period that we have now to address outstanding issues. Building a functioning and legitimate South Sudan Government is obviously essential to efforts that have to be made to manage the expectations of the people of South Sudan and to deliver essential services to those who have waited such a long time. Now, even in the context of the insecurity and humanitarian crises in border areas, it remains vital that this work is supported consistently and continually by all donors. Transference to the state is just not happening and clearly, dependence on NGOs has to be reduced.

Central to delivery of sustainable change in South Sudan is that the citizens of that country see the Government in Juba being able to deliver basic services locally across the country, using their own local authorities. Action means so much more than words and intentions when the needs are clearly so great. Traditional authorities must be involved, while at the same time strengthening the role of the state.

This is after all a country where 200,000 dangerously malnourished refugees from Blue Nile have arrived in the past, and where thousands of southerners have returned since 2010. In South Sudan, the health needs are substantial: cholera, measles, meningitis, polio, river blindness, sleeping sickness, yellow fever and whooping cough are all prevalent. It remains the case that what services exist are largely delivered by humanitarian and other NGOs funded by donors. As the noble Lords, Lord Cameron and Lord Curry, have said, the level of dependence in South Sudan is simply not sustainable or desirable.

Can we at last anticipate an end to the flip-flopping between humanitarian aid and development aid, which we have seen for far too long? Most recently, donors—including the UK, I have to say—pulled out of developments following the oil shutdown. However, as soon as that oil deal was reached, they started talking about development aid, and working with government systems. Now we see that current and urgent humanitarian concerns have simply been obscured or ignored completely.

There is a widespread perception that aid is being used in South Sudan as a mechanism for political conditionality, when what the Government of South Sudan really require is an understanding from donors that they need consistent and reliable support. Development and humanitarian aid should never be used to hold a government and people to ransom, because for practical as well as moral reasons, one should never be at the expense of the other.

On the European Union’s engagement, we should certainly support the fact that the EU institutions and member states have agreed to work together to produce a joint strategy paper on the implementation of programmes. However, if it is to be meaningful, it is essential that sectors are identified and donors complement each other in the implementation of that country’s strategy. On paper, this is of course agreed as part of efforts to increase EU aid effectiveness. However, one official was quoted as saying that they agree on something and then each member state continues to do its own thing. It was ever thus. This, I regret to say, includes what I see to be a reluctance demonstrated by the UK to forcefully and enthusiastically join co-ordinated efforts to draw up an all-European Union position.

The preoccupation of European Union member states with East Africa, Palestine, the Amazon, the Sahel, Syria, Yemen, the DRC and Mali—depending on what your various colonial connections happen to be—mean that priority is just not being given to South Sudan. That is clearly and repeatedly reflected in the agendas drawn up by the Foreign Affairs Council. Therefore I ask the Minister: will the UK Government make every effort to push Sudan and South Sudan up the agenda at this very critical time?

Sven Kühn von Burgsdorff, the head of the delegation in Juba, and Dame Rosalind Marsden, the EU special representative, are both doing an excellent job. The delegation and the embassy are up and running, with plans to co-ordinate these efforts. I commend urgent action, especially when the potential for advancing peace and security is great, but the possibility of a descent into disaster is ever present in any fragile state, and of course that remains the case for South Sudan.

In November, South Sudan will join the Cotonou partnership agreement between the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States and the EU, and will access European development funds. Very importantly, it will also join ACP partners in what is called the “Everything but Arms” market access agreement with Europe.

Other noble Lords have raised the concerns that we share about the need for peace and security in the South Kordofan and Blue Nile states. Is it not time to do more and end the ambivalence about the clear need for a more strategic approach to deal with these crises, as a number of noble Lords have said? After the Addis agreement, I am afraid we are continuing to see more of what is really just a “wait and see” approach, which has frankly brought nothing more than paralysis in the whole system.

After 18 months of efforts to negotiate humanitarian access, nothing has changed for the people affected by these conflicts. Is it not time now to explore alternatives to repeated failed attempts to negotiate with Khartoum? I also ask the Minister whether she would agree that the efforts to negotiate have failed and diplomatic efforts need to be substituted with a different approach. Many thousands of people are suffering in these areas, and we know full well that the Government of Sudan have absolutely no intention of protecting civilians suffering from starvation. Will the Minister tell us whether any consideration is being given to delivering cross-border aid without the permission of Khartoum? If noble Lords around the Table here were honest, we would say that this is already happening through the efforts of civil society, international partners and, yes, Governments.

When fruitless diplomatic toing and froing has not achieved anything, it is time for the tripartite partners to take effective action. All of this is made more emphatic by the fact that food is being used as a weapon of war. It is time, recognising the realities, that action is taken to deliver food and aid immediately and urgently. The special representative of the UN Secretary-General confirms that progress has been made in South Sudan. Many noble Lords have been, I think, extremely pessimistic and cynical perhaps about what has happened in South Sudan for some, and maybe many, understandable reasons. However, having read a recent report by the UN Secretary-General’s special representative, I will say that state institutions have been strengthened, and militias and rebel groups have been integrated into the national army. Nevertheless, a great deal needs to be done to protect civilians and to broker peaceful coexistence among feuding tribes. Demobilisation is a massive challenge. The salaries of the army, police and other forces make up more than half the budget, and donors and the Government must focus on this challenge of change.

South Sudan now has a new legislature made up of a Legislative Assembly and a Council of State, and there seems to be a real appetite for strengthening and developing the country’s institutions. Work is in progress on new laws, developing political parties, elections and a constitutional review. These are major tasks for an infant democracy. It is surely realistic to understand that it is going to take time. It is also going to take time for the current Government to build the maturity that state-building will demand. The Government of South Sudan also have to insist on increasing transparency and accountability, by introducing new and clear standards of conduct in government.

Corruption must be fought with vigour and elected politicians must be constantly reminded of their obligation to be accountable to the people they serve. All this may seem like a very tall order but many of us who have followed Sudan, and now South Sudan, over many years and other crises in developing countries know that these issues are well worth supporting and encouraging. I hope that we will have future meetings on reports from the European Union Committee which will confirm that these things are happening and that change is taking place for the people of South Sudan.

My Lords, I start by thanking the noble Lord, Lord Teverson, for tabling today’s debate, and for providing at its outset a very helpful historical and political summary. I also thank all noble Lords for their kind comments welcoming me to my new role. In my few short weeks as a Minister at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office the Sudans have consistently been a high priority for the FCO, and it is heartening to see such strong interest in this subject from my fellow Peers. I should also commend the continued commitment of the Associate Parliamentary Group for Sudan and South Sudan, many of whom are present tonight.

I welcome the follow-up report of 22 March by EU Sub-Committee C entitled The EU: Sudan and South Sudan. This report, in addition to the longer report from June 2011, made some very useful recommendations. I hope that noble Lords saw the response issued by the Government at the time in which we broadly agreed with the recommendations on international co-operation, particularly with the EU and China, as a means of resolving the disagreements between both countries.

Since the publishing of the report in March, we have seen moments of great tension between the countries. In March the risk of open conflict seemed very real, but following the road map set out by the African Union Peace and Security Council, which was further endorsed by United Nations Security Council Resolution 2046, a new sense of co-operation and negotiation has resulted in agreements on eight key issues between the countries. We welcome these agreements signed on 27 September. They represent a significant step forward towards the goal of resolving all outstanding disputes between the two countries and we congratulate both countries on what they have achieved. It was also a positive sign of what can be achieved through co-operation between the African Union and the United Nations.

Some issues, however, remain unresolved. It is disappointing that no agreement was reached on the final status of Abyei. Final demarcation of the international border remains subject to settling a number of disputes and claims. My noble friend Lord Trimble raised important points about its practical application. The noble Lord, Lord Selkirk, also referred to the possibility of further negotiations or referendums in Abyei. The latest proposal put forward by the African Union would provide for a referendum on final status with important safeguards for the rights of all communities. We believe that this provides a good basis for agreement. The partition of Abyei would be in the interests neither of the residents of the territory nor of the nomadic groups who pass through annually. The noble Lord also raised the issue of an alternative pipeline for oil through Kenya. I understand that the Government of South Sudan continue to study options for alternative pipelines but the only immediate prospect for addressing South Sudan’s economic needs is a resumption of production and export through the existing pipeline in accordance with the agreement signed on 27 September. However, I note the comments of the noble Lord, Lord Cameron, about using the proceeds of oil to invest in sectors that could provide future financial stability.

The noble Baroness, Lady Cox, highlighted the lack of a ceasefire in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile State and the continued restrictions on humanitarian access. These are greatly worrying. The suffering of people in both states must be addressed and the UK teams in Juba and Khartoum are working closely with the Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs and a range of NGOs to ensure we explore all options to see that assistance reaches those who need it. The noble Baroness always produces very powerful personal accounts of the situation on the ground in Sudan and South Sudan.

The noble Baronesses, Lady Cox and Lady Kinnock, raised cross-border aid. We know that some others are considering how to provide aid across the border from South Sudan. However, there are risks associated with this, including difficulties of ensuring that aid reaches those who need it most. We are also concerned that attempting to provide aid without the consent of the Government of Sudan is likely to put at risk humanitarian assistance to millions elsewhere in Sudan, particularly in Darfur. However, we remain in close contact with a range of NGOs as well as the United Nations, the African Union and the Arab League, to ensure that all options for getting assistance to those who need it are explored.

I can also assure the noble Baroness, Lady Kinnock, that long-term development in South Sudan remains a top priority for the United Kingdom. However, development programmes are based on a partnership in which both sides contribute resources. By halting oil production, South Sudan has denied itself access to 98% of its revenues. The UK and other donors cannot fill that gap. It was essential that we refocused our development programme away from the Government’s longer-term development agenda and towards supporting the most vulnerable and addressing life-saving needs. After the successful agreement on oil revenue, once revenues start flowing in again, we hope that we can restart the development programmes that were planned.

The most reverend Primate the Archbishop of York and the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Exeter raised the role of churches in South Sudan. We welcome the critical role of the Church in South Sudan, both in conflict resolution among communities and in development, particularly education. We remain committed to working in partnership with the Church on these issues. It has a huge amount of experience, knowledge and reach and we regularly meet representatives of the Church when they are in the UK. I thank the noble Lord, Lord Alton, for his kind remarks about my commitment to the issue of faith and the role of faith organisations, both the role that they play domestically and internationally. I endorse the comments of my noble friend Lord Sheikh in relation to the work of Islamic Relief.

The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Exeter also raised concerns about the humanitarian crisis in South Kordofan. We are deeply concerned by the plight of the civilians caught up in the fighting in South Kordofan and Blue Nile. The limited assessments available of the humanitarian situation of those in that conflict zone, as well as of those who have sought refuge in South Sudan and Ethiopia, all point to a severe crisis. DfID is working with humanitarian partners better to address the needs of those in the refugee camps and we have set aside resources to meet the needs of those remaining in the conflict zones, once access is possible. We are putting our efforts behind a proposal on arrangements for humanitarian access made by the UN, the AU and the League of Arab States. I agree that the Arab League can play an important role in bringing the Government of Sudan to accept full, independent humanitarian access. We are in close contact with it and will continue to urge it to use its influence with Sudan to this end.

The noble Lord, Lord Jay, and the noble Lord, Lord Alton, are right to highlight ongoing concerns in Darfur. We remain deeply concerned by the security and humanitarian situation in Darfur: 1.7 million Darfurians remain displaced. Through the Department for International Development, humanitarian programmes are providing life-saving support for those in need in Darfur. DfID also supports community-level peace building and stabilisation to tackle the drivers of local conflict. I also assure both noble Lords that DfID is at the forefront of efforts to improve aid co-ordination in South Sudan, in support of the development priorities of the South Sudan Government. Earlier today, the noble Lord, Lord Alton, was kind enough to raise his concerns with officials when they met as part of the All-Party Group on Sudan and South Sudan. The issues raised were quite comprehensive and I have asked my officials to reply in detail to the noble Lord in writing.

The noble Lord, Lord Chidgey, raised the issue of corruption and financial management. DfID provides a significant capacity-building support to the Audit Chamber and the Anti-Corruption Commission. A high-level dialogue on accountability and transparency is led by the UK and the South Sudan Ministry of Finance and is central to our development programme.

On transparency, I agree that there needs to be transparency for the South Sudanese people in the revenues from oil. We are encouraging the Government of South Sudan to adopt the principles of the extraction industry’s transparency initiative.

The noble Lord, Lord Curry, asked about the role of China. China has remained in close touch with both Sudan and South Sudan through negotiations and visits by its special envoy to encourage both sides to negotiate constructively. I understand that the China National Petroleum Corporation is working to support implementation of the deal reached on oil. Our special representative for Sudan and South Sudan has a regular dialogue with his Chinese counterpart to discuss the constructive role that China can play in the peace process and in the development of both countries.

The noble Lord, Lord Anderson of Swansea, raised important issues. In light of him having to leave early, I agree to respond to the noble Lord in writing.

At the moment, we have a situation which we all agree shows a marked improvement from six months ago. Both countries should be applauded, as should the efforts of the African Union, the African Union high-level implementation panel and other countries. However, there is still a great deal of work to do and it will take a continued effort from both countries to settle their remaining differences properly and peacefully.

For our part, the United Kingdom is prepared to do whatever it takes to ensure that the agreements are implemented and finalised and to press for resolution of all outstanding issues. We also remain fully committed to helping the people of both countries through our humanitarian and development projects. We will continue to provide assistance to respond to the humanitarian needs of conflict-affected populations, to ensure security and access to justice, to build basic services, and to encourage more transparent and accountable Governments in both countries. Through all of this, we will continue to work as closely as possible with our key international partners, including the European Union. A united approach is the best way to ensure that both countries remain on the path towards the peaceful future that their people so greatly deserve.

I thank noble Lords for their time today and I look forward to the next opportunity that I have to discuss these matters with them. I hope that next time the discussion will be able to focus once again on the progress that has been made between the two countries.

My Lords, I thank all noble Lords for their contributions. I am delighted to see here past members of the sub-committee, particularly those with a much broader experience and on-the-ground expertise in this area who have brought to this subject the passion that our own sub-committee feels is fundamentally important. I thank particularly those who have brought an optimistic note to the debate—particularly the noble Lords, Lord Jay and Lord Cameron, and the noble Baroness, Lady Kinnock—in regard to the future because, as has been said so often, we sometimes look upon Africa negatively when so much is going on across the whole continent.

I thank our clerk, Kathryn Colvin, for all the work she did. Finally, I thank my noble friend Lady Warsi for her response to the debate, for taking on this portfolio and for the enthusiasm that she has for the subject. We look forward to seeing her next week when we discuss EU defence issues, although perhaps that does not come into this area.

The rest of Westminster has given up tonight but we are still here. I commend this report to the Grand Committee and to the House.

Motion agreed.

Committee adjourned at 8.29 pm.