Situation in Sudan
Delivered in Plenary - May 10th 2005
No sooner had Sudan emerged from 21 years of bloody civil war between the Islamist Government of Sudan and the Christian/Animist south, finally ended by the comprehensive peace agreement signed in Nairobi this January, than another appalling humanitarian situation emerged in Darfur in February 2003, whose importance internationally must be reinforced now that attention may be drifting away following the tsunami in South-East Asia.
A recent estimate by the British House of Commons Select Committee put the casualty figures as high as 300 000, with 10 000 people dying each month from disease, starvation and atrocities, and two million people homeless and displaced, destabilising neighbouring Chad. Whether one calls it genocide or not, it still amounts to the most serious systematic violation of fundamental rights probably anywhere on the globe.
The African Union urgently needs to help stop the killing in Darfur, where whole villages have been bombed and torched, where mass executions and rape are common and where an Aids crisis is now looming. Millions have fallen victim to a scorched earth struggle between Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir’s Arab-dominated regime, and its Janjaweed militias, and ethnic African secessionists in Darfur.
At last, the United Nations is acting, under Security Council Resolution 1593, with a referral of those accused of war crimes to the ICC. China, a traditional ally of Sudan because it has oil investments there, and the United States, which opposes the ICC, have both acquiesced and abstained in the Security Council.
While the fighting has cooled off, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan this week appealed for an African force of 12 000 troops, up from the 7 500 expected by August and the 2 500 African Union troops who are already in the region. Kofi Annan also wants non-African states to supply more troops, and Canada has been one of the first to agree.
Representatives from the two groups – the Sudan Liberation Movement and the Justice and Equality Movement – declared on Monday their commitment to a ceasefire and to unconditionally resuming talks with the Sudanese Government.
I welcome the release of the EUR 450 million of EU humanitarian aid, and do not accept the pleas of innocence and, to date, impunity of the brutal regime in Khartoum, which must be held to account for its brutal crimes.