July 12th, 2013
War Crimes in Sudan: Baroness Cox draws attention to the unilateral aerial bombardment of the civilian population undertaken by the Khartoum Government.
This Tuesday in the House of Lords, Lord Alton of Liverpool asked the British Government what assessment they had made of the Amnesty International Report We had no time to bury him: War crimes in Sudan’s Blue Nile State. He highlighted the shocking extent of the purging of the Nuba people and asked when this issue was last raised in the United Nations Security Council. Lord Alton also asked whether or not the British Government supported the extension of the arms embargo to the whole of Sudan.
Lord Wallace of Saltaire answered on behalf of the Government and affirmed that, with three missions and a number of other operations, the UN is heavily engaged in Sudan, whilst noting the extreme difficulty diplomats face when attempting to access the area.
Serious concern was expressed by the peers and Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead posed a particularly delicate question when pointing out the repetition of history and that “the lessons of Darfur have not been learnt and that the United Nations Security Council is again failing to respond to the suffering of the Sudanese people, who are being bombarded by their own Governments”. Further, Lord Chidgey noted that there would be little or no deterrence unless the arrest warrants against Al-Bashir and others were implemented, so he asked whether the British Government would press this case vigorously with the international community.
In response to this, Lord Wallace of Saltaire expressed deep concern at the current situation, but also stressed that “there are limits to what the international community can achieve”, but gave his assurances that the British Government worked extremely hard to provide as much humanitarian assistance as they can.
Baroness Cox the referred to her recent visit to South Kordofan and Blue Nile states, where she witnessed “the constant aerial bombardment of civilians, which deliberately targeted schools and clinics, forcing civilians to hide in caves with deadly snakes and in banks carved out from rivers, and preventing them harvesting crops, with many dying of starvation”. She therefore asked what was done by the British Government to hold the Government of Khartoum accountable.
Lord Wallace of Saltaire acknowledged the Baroness’s experience and expressed his gratitude towards her for providing him with her insights, but also reiterated that Britain is not the only external actor influencing Sudan. He closed by stating that rather there is a “tripartite body consisting of the United Nations, the African Union and the Arab League which is attempting to mediate on what is happening in Blue Nile and South Kordofan”.
The full debate can be accessed by clicking here.
You can watch the debate by clicking here.
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