February 28th, 2013
House of Lords debate Darfur, South Kordofan and Blue Nile
Yesterday, in a short debate in the House of Lords, Baroness Cox asked what is the British Government’s assessment of the current situation in Darfur, South Kordofan and Blue Nile.
On the 10th anniversary of the start of devastating violence in Darfur, six members of the House of Lords spoke on the humanitarian crisis and asked the British Government to take further action.
Baroness Cox asked the British Government what representations had been made to the Sudanese Government to halt the aerial bombardment of Darfur, where a decade of conflict has left at least 300,000 dead, 1.7 million displace people in camps in Darfur and 250,000 in Chad, and cited claims that more people have been displaced in Darfur in the last month than the whole of 2012.
She also spoke of the humanitarian crisis in South Kordofan and Blue Nile state, ‘where there has been continuous fighting …since 1 September 2011. Ground offensives between the Sudan Armed Forces, SAF, and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army-North, SPLM-N, continue with relentless aerial bombardment of civilians by SAF’, stating that between 60- 70% of those displaced in the Nuba mountains have run out of food and as a result there is wide spread malnutrition.
Baroness Cox asked whether the British government ‘would also support proposals …for: an international independent committee of inquiry to be sent by the UN Security Council to investigate and report on human rights violations and abuses, and crimes against humanity, with a referral to the International Criminal Court if appropriate; targeted sanctions to prevent Khartoum from continuing to perpetrate violations of international humanitarian law with impunity, including denial of diplomatic status and visas for senior members of the NCP and freezing of financial assets held abroad; the international community to pressure Khartoum’
Lord Alton also called for the downgrading of Britain’s diplomatic relations with the Khartoum government: ‘Given that the ICC has indicted the head of state in Sudan…how can we justify full diplomatic relations with mass murderers and fugitives from justice?’
Baroness Cox concluded‘…let us remember that after the genocide in Rwanda it was famously stated, “Never again”-but “again” is happening now in Sudan. Until Her Majesty’s Government take effective action, they will be seen as condoning another genocide.’
Baroness Warsi replied that ‘…negotiated access from within Sudan is the best way of providing humanitarian assistance…We currently judge that the risks of cross-border assistance mean that the UK should not pursue this approach at this stage.’
‘We condemn such actions [as the aerial bombardment of civilians] and most recently expressed our concerns through the UN Security Council discussion adopting Resolution 2091, which extended the panel’s mandate for a further year… It has not been possible to agree measures to toughen the sanctions regime in the United Nations Security Council, and any actions that we take must be consistent with existing UN Security Council resolutions.’
‘…at this stage the UK will maintain a diplomatic relationship with Sudan… we feel that downgrading our relations would reduce our ability to achieve our objectives-indeed, any objectives-in Sudan.’
Visithttp://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld201213/ldhansrd/text/130227-gc0001.htm#13022793000235 for the full debate.
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