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Brake Holds Sudanese Ambassador To Account Over Darfur

November 10, 2004 12:00 AM

A week before the UN Security Council meets in Nairobi to discuss what has been described as the 'world's worst humanitarian crisis' in Darfur, Liberal Democrat International Development Spokesman Tom Brake is meeting with Sudanese Ambassador HE Dr Hassan Abdin at the Sudanese embassy (today, 10 November).

Mr Brake secured the meeting in order to establish the Sudanese government's current position in relation to issues such as its compliance with UN resolutions and the AU monitoring mission, its promises to disarm the Janjaweed militia and its assessment of the amount of aid needed in Darfur (full copy of letter below).

Mr Brake said,

"As the humanitarian and security situation continues to deteriorate, the Sudanese government continues to give questionable assurances on Darfur. The government is failing to control and disarm the Janjaweed militia and security remains an illusion for the people of Darfur. I am seeking the Ambassador's response to UN reports that Khartoum is losing control of the region and that Darfur is descending into anarchy."

"Sudan's oil-hungry friends on the Security Council should not help Sudan escape the threat of UN sanctions. Sudan must make good its promises on Darfur and comply with UN resolutions and co-operate with the African Union mission."

"The Sudanese government must halt violations of international humanitarian law and it must re-start peace talks."

Letter text follows:

10 November 2004

ref: Abdin2hld

HE Dr Hassan Abdin

Embassy of the Republic of Sudan

St James's, London

Thank you for taking the time to meet with me today. The Liberal Democrats, along with the rest of international community, are alarmed at the suffering of the people of Darfur and at the reports of large-scale violations of human rights and international humanitarian law.

First and foremost, allow me to reiterate the Liberal Democrats' deep commitment to helping all parties to the conflict achieve a just and lasting outcome for Darfur. I have outlined below key areas of concern and I would be grateful if you could address the questions I have raised.

Janjaweed

The Janjaweed militias stand accused of attacking civilians and committing some of the worst atrocities in the Darfur region.

  • What is the nature of the current relationship between the government of Sudan and the Janjaweed? Will the government of Sudan condemn the crimes of the Janjaweed?
  • What steps have the government of Sudan taken to disarm and disband the Janjaweed fighters? Has the government of Sudan set a timetable for disarmament? Does the government of Sudan still hold the position that the rebel groups must disarm first?
  • What is your government's policy concerning the integration of former Janjaweed members into the formal government security forces, such as the army and the police? How many have been integrated?
  • What steps has the government of Sudan taken to bring to justice those members of the Janjaweed who have incited and carried out violations of human rights and international humanitarian law? What assistance can the international community offer to the government of Sudan in arresting and prosecuting Janjaweed members?
  • Regarding the reports of aerial bombings and the devastating effect these have on civilian populations, will the government of Sudan undertake to cease aerial bombings?
  • Do you agree that if the government of Sudan is in control in Darfur, then it should be able to control the military, paramilitary and the police - and the government should be able to cease aerial bombings?

Aid effort

As you know, the continued fighting is hampering the aid effort as well as food production. The fighting could destroy this year's harvest and the whole population of Darfur would become dependent on humanitarian assistance. Humanitarian aid agencies are already struggling to cope with the enormous demand, but if the security situation deteriorates further, these very same agencies could withdraw from the region - with all the attendant consequences.

  • What is the Sudanese government's assessment of the amount of aid that will be needed to support internally displaced people and the Darfur people in the next 12 months?
  • While I am aware that the government has agreed to fast-track visas to allow relief workers to enter Sudan, is the government of Sudan committed to allowing relief agencies to carry out their remit in Darfur without hindrance? Aid workers have identified travel permits as an unnecessary obstacle: can you give me your government's rationale for requiring travel permits? What waiting time has the government of Sudan set for processing travel permits?
  • What steps have the government of Sudan taken to ensure relief operations are protected from the violence and fighting?
  • Why are government security forces blocking access to refugee camps in Darfur? When does the government expect to lift the blockades? Why are refugees in the camps facing harassment from Sudanese security forces?

Internally Displaced People

  • Will the government of Sudan confirm that it will no longer forcibly relocate internally displaced people?
  • How many internally displaced people have volunteered to be relocated?
  • What assistance or protection will the government of Sudan provide to internally displaced people?
  • Given reports* of internally displaced people being moved, is the government of Sudan satisfied that it is not in breach of international humanitarian law? *such as 2 November 2004 report of internally displaced people moved from El Geer village near Nyala in South Darfur.

African Union

As an expanded African Union mission will soon be operating in Darfur,

  • How will the government of Sudan ensure the free movement of AU monitors and AU soldiers to allow the mission to carry out its mandate?
  • Will the government of Sudan consent to the public release of the AU monitoring reports?

UN compliance

  • Could you give assurance that the government of Sudan has fully complied or is in the process of complying with Security Council resolution 1556 (2004) of 30 July 2004, resolution 1547 (2004) of 11 June 2004 and resolution 1502 (2003) of 26 August 2003, as well as the Plan of Action agreed by the Secretary-General's Special Representative to Sudan and the Government of Sudan?
  • What further steps will the government of Sudan take in advance of (i) the November meeting of the UN Security Council in Nairobi, Kenya and (ii) the resumption of peace talks in Abuja, Nigeria to demonstrate its commitment to achieving a peaceful resolution?

I thank you again for agreeing to meet with me and I look forward to your reply.

Yours sincerely,

Tom Brake MP

Carshalton and Wallington

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