Press Notice 16b, Session 2005-06

COMMITTEE CALLS FOR SANCTIONS ON SUDAN UNTIL GOVERNMENT COMPLIES ON DARFUR

Words and commitments from the Government of Sudan (GoS) on ending violence in Darfur are not enough, says the Commons International Development Committee in a report released today, Thursday 26 January 2006, Holocaust Memorial Day. The Committee says the UK Government should propose to the UN Security Council that it should apply credible sanctions until the GoS has complied.

The report, Darfur: The killing continues [HC 657], argues that the adoption of the “responsibility to protect”, which was the main success of the UN Millennium Review Summit, should be the responsibility of all UN members, not just neighbouring states.  The GoS has failed to reign in the militias responsible for the ethnic cleansing in Darfur and who continue to attack civilians, including those in displaced persons camps. The AU’s mandate will expire at the end of  March - resources must immediately be put in place, whether through the AU or the UN, to ensure effective protection for people in Darfur.

The Committee say reports of a lessening of attacks on homes and aerial bombardments should not be regarded as a positive step because they only reflect the fact that ethic cleansing has succeeded in driving people from their homes: 1.8 million people are living in refugee camps which the overstretched AU mission cannot protect and these are subject to continued raids and violence.

The Committee favours the “African solution to an African problem”, but the overriding priority is to end the bloodshed and with the AU mandate and funding running out in March, immediate action is needed. Effective protection has to be provided for people in Darfur, either by the AU or the UN. This needs to happen immediately.

Malcolm Bruce MP, Chairman of the International Development Committee, said “Time is fast running out for the AU Mission in Sudan. The UK Government has long said that the issue is one of finding the capacity within the international community to create an effective peacekeeping operation which would provide proper civilian protection.  Now is the time for the UN to mobilize resources for the AU Mission’s work and reinforce its role with a UN mandate. The Government of Sudan has a history of not meeting the commitments it has made in respect of Darfur, particularly in terms of disarming  the Janjaweed. It is now time for the UK Government to propose in the UN Security Council, sanctions which are credible and which will force the Government of Sudan at long last to fulfill its commitments”.

John Bercow MP, member of the Committee, said:  “As this report shows, the terrible slaughter of innocent people in Darfur continues apace. The African Union force has been grossly under-resourced and has been given far too limited a mandate. The time has come to provide a vast increase in the number of troops on the ground and to give them a mandate to enforce the peace.  Only with such decisive action can there be an end to the conflict and the hope of a secure future for the long suffering people of Darfur.”

Hugh Bayley MP, member of the Committee, said: "Darfur will test whether the UN is serious about the Responsibility to Protect.  The UK should lead by pressing for tough sanctions in the UN Security Council and a stronger mandate for the peacekeepers."

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Notes to editors:

1.In March 2005 the report on Darfur, Sudan: The responsibility to protect (HC 67) was published by this Committee in the previous Parliament. The report followed a three month inquiry and a visit to Darfur in February. The report set out the true extent of the international community’s failure to protect the people of Darfur from the atrocities committed against them. Although the blame lay primarily with the Government of Sudan (GoS), there had been major failings by the international community - by governments, including that of the UK; by the humanitarian system; and by the United Nations Security Council

2. The membership of the Committee is as follows: Malcolm Bruce MP (Chairman, Lib Dem), John Barrett MP (Lib Dem), John Battle MP (Lab), John Bercow MP (Con), Hugh Bayley MP (Lab), Richard Burden MP (Lab), Mr Quentin Davies MP (Con), Mr Jeremy Hunt MP (Con), Ann McKechin MP (Lab), Joan Ruddock MP (Lab), Mr Marsha Singh (Lab).

3. For more information please contact the media officer Jessica Bridges Palmer on 020 7219 0724 or 07917 488 447

Committee website: www.parliament.uk/indcom

Watch committees and parliamentary debates online: www.parliamentlive.tv

Publications/Reports/Reference Material: Copies of all select committee reports are available from the Parliamentary Bookshop (12 Bridge Street, Westminster, 020 7219 3890) or the Stationery Office (0845  7023474)