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Speeches, 9/27/2006

Minister for European Affairs Paula Lehtomäki in the Plenary Session of the European Parliament on the situation in Darfur, 27 September 2006                               

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The European Union is alarmed about the recent developments in Sudan, especially the deterioration of the security and humanitarian situation in Darfur.  The Presidency together with the HR Solana works in close cooperation with all EU partners and the international community to combine efforts and to work with the parties to build a sustainable peace in Darfur. Furthermore, EUSR for Sudan Mr Pekka Haavisto, appointed in 2005, continues to monitor the overall situation in Sudan, coordinate EU action and represent the EU in discussions with Sudan.

The Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA), signed between the Sudanese Government and the SLM/Minni Minnawi in May this year, was considered an opportunity for peace. This Agreement was expected to end the conflict that had prevailed in the region for three years, causing the deaths of nearly three hundred thousand people and driving two million from their homes. But today, four months later, the security and humanitarian situation in the region is rapidly worsening. Violent acts and attacks on villages and camps for refugees and IDPs have increased, especially during the last months. The Government of Sudan has reinforced its military presence in the Darfur province. Both the Government's troops and the rebel groups keep violating the ceasefire. Due to the worsened security situation, the number of displaced persons and others in need of assistance has taken an upward trend. At the same time, delivery of humanitarian assistance has become more difficult, with humanitarian aid reaching only 50 percent of the people in Darfur.

Implementation of the DPA - that has in practice made no progress at all - would have a direct impact on the lives of about six million inhabitants of Darfur. It would enable these people to return home from camps and return to normal life. It would also improve food safety, make it possible to establish education and health care, restore the basic needs and the basic prerequisites for life - just to mention a few possible benefits. The prerequisite for all of this to happen is the improvement of the security situation.  

To safeguard the implementation of the Darfur peace process and the DPA it is indispensable that those parties to the conflict which did not sign the Agreement be now included in the process. To improve the security situation immediately, it is of the utmost importance that the parties commit themselves to the ceasefire agreements and that the ceasefire is monitored closely. The EU has repeatedly demanded that the parties comply with their obligations under the DPA and the 2004 N'djamena Humanitarian Ceasefire Agreement. The EU, particularly EUSR Haavisto, has also made active efforts in order to get the "non-signatories" to join in the peace process and the peace Agreement.

The EU is concerned about the impact of the Darfur conflict on the comprehensive peace process in Sudan (Comprehensive Peace Agreement, CPA). Conflict in Darfur also has serious effects on stability in the entire East and Horn Africa, especially in Chad and Central African Republic.

In support of the Darfur peace process the African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS) was launched in 2004. The EU has supported AMIS with funds from the African Peace Facility (APF) from the very beginning. The total financial support is approximately 242 million euros. In addition, the EU has offered material, logistical and planning support as well as personnel. The Member States have also made remarkable bilateral contributions.

AMIS, the first ever peacekeeping operation of the African Union, has been successful in extremely difficult circumstances. However, its capabilities are insufficient to meet the massive challenges in Darfur. There have also been serious shortfalls in funding despite the EU contributions. From this point of view it is clear that the only viable and realistic option for peacekeeping in Darfur is through the UN. The EU strongly supports Resolution 1706 (2006), adopted by the UN Security Council on 31 August. The Resolution expands the mandate of the UN peacekeeping mission already working in South Sudan (UNMIS) to Darfur, to continue the work started by AMIS. The main task of a UN mission would be to support the implementation of the DPA. The protection of civilians and the monitoring of the ceasefire would be essential parts of the mandate. As the main supporter of AMIS, the EU is very concerned about the fact that the Government of Sudan has not approved the UN mission to Darfur.

The UN Mission is indispensable for improving the security situation in the region and implementing the DPA in a sustainable manner. Darfur cannot, however, be left in a security vacuum. Therefore, the EU welcomes the decision of the AU on 20 September in New York to continue the mandate of AMIS until the end of the year. The EU is committed to supporting AMIS also during this "transition period". While welcoming the acceptance of the Government of Sudan for a UN support for AMIS during its continued mandate, the EU continues strongly calling upon the Government to accept transition from AMIS to UN as required in Resolution 1706.

The EU has repeatedly expressed its concern and discussed the matter with the Sudanese Government. Furthermore, the EU has urged other international actors to take active measures in order to convince the Sudanese Government of the helpfulness and indispensability of the UN Mission for the peace process in Darfur and in whole of Sudan.  With this in mind, the issue was raised in various meetings by the European union - the Presidency, SG/HR Solana, EUSR Haavisto, Member States - in the margins of the UN General Assembly in New York last week.

The EU is particularly concerned about the human rights violations committed in Darfur. Women and children, in particular, are being subjected to rapes and other forms of physical violence. The EU supports the work conducted by the UN Human Rights Rapporteur in the region to improve the human rights situation. The EU has repeated for the Government of Sudan its responsibility to protect its own citizens from all violence and to guarantee respect for human rights.

The European Union is one of the major donors in reconstruction after the civil war in Sudan. In the donors conference in Oslo in April 2005 the EU (the EC and the Member States) made remarkable contributions for immediate needs and reconstruction of Sudan. When the Darfur peace process starts in earnest, the EU will be ready to support the reconstruction of the region. The EU also provides substantial humanitarian assistance to Sudan, including Darfur.

It is vital that that the European Union plays a visible and active role in the Sudan/Darfur issue. The situation in Sudan/Darfur is a priority among the African and ESDP issues under consideration by the Council and it will remain high on the Presidency's agenda, including at the GAERC meetings. It will also be raised in all relevant meetings with the third parties including in high level meetings.  Without active measures, Darfur risks plunging into a spiral of violence again. This is something we cannot afford to let happen.

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Updated 9/27/2006

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