Darfur

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:31 pm on 9th June 2004.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Hilary Benn Hilary Benn The Secretary of State for International Development 12:31 pm, 9th June 2004

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for the visit that she undertook and I look forward to having the opportunity to discuss with her further the details of what she saw in Sudan. I undertake to continue to put as much pressure as I can on the Government of Sudan to fulfil their responsibilities. As I expressed in my opening statement, I share the concern at the lack of speed and urgency with which the UN has responded to this crisis. I think that that is beginning to change, however, and I met Kevin Kennedy, who is in Sudan in an acting capacity and will be replaced during the next two or three weeks by Eric de Mul. There is now a much stronger sense of urgency on the part of the UN, and we must build on that and make sure that it turns into action on the ground.

On my hon. Friend's third point, I could not agree with her more. One of the tragedies of Darfur is that we are having to spend money—although rightly—on dealing with the humanitarian crisis when, if there were peace and stability in Sudan on the basis of the Naivasha agreement, we could use those resources to help the development of this desperately poor country. She is right to draw attention to the problems in other regions of the country. As well as the historic north-south conflict, there is a problem between the centre and the periphery of Sudan. That is why a solution has to be based on the principles that have been so carefully negotiated in Naivasha.