Sudan — Debate

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 1:35 pm on 7th January 2010.

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Photo of Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Minister of State (Africa and UN) 1:35 pm, 7th January 2010

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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