Dr Charles Tannock

Member of the European Parliament for London

Humanitarian situation in Sudan

Delivered in Plenary - September 14th 2004

Mr President

Almost undoubtedly the Darfur humanitarian crisis is the worst in the world today, with approximately 1.4 million people displaced, many to camps in Chad, and an estimated 50 000 killed, and, according to WHO estimates, 10 000 dying monthly from disease and violence.

The USA is now accusing the Khartoum Government of genocide by its proxy Janjaweed Arab militiamen against African local tribes, who rose up in February 2003 against the government. The government is said to be dominated by only two ethnic Arab tribes, who have excluded the Sudanese Africans from power and the sharing of Sudan's oil wealth.

This a complex dispute, with the Justice and Equality Movement through its 'Black Book', circulated in Khartoum last year, calling for more democracy but from a radical Islamist perspective. The hands of Dr al-Turabi seem to be at work in Darfur, settling scores against President Bashir, responsible for expelling Osama Bin Laden from Sudan in 1996. It must also be said that the rebels have been brutal in their attacks on Sudanese Government workers, in particular policemen.

The UN has now promised a review and Washington is calling for a UN commission of inquiry and for consideration of trade sanctions, including arms and an oil embargo. The EU will probably follow suit.

Understandably, no one in the EU wants direct military intervention, but only supports the continued presence of African Union troops as monitors and possibly as peacekeepers. The UN and EU sanctions may be very difficult to enforce in such a vast country as Sudan, especially with the recent large investments in the oil sector by China and India, which would be negatively affected. Recent reports of the Janjaweed, who have razed 405 villages to the ground and continue to wreak havoc, including the systematic raping of women, claim they have been disgracefully integrated into Sudan's military.

Something must be done, as Sudan is just emerging from the long civil war in the south. However, with the lessons of Iraq in mind, no western power, to my mind, will contemplate military intervention. I call upon the African Union to show the world what it can do.