President. The next item is the debate on the six motions for resolutions on Darfur(1).
Bernd Posselt (PPE-DE), author. – (DE) Mr President, we have had repeated occasion to discuss the situation in Darfur, albeit not for some time, even though things there have taken a lamentable and tragic turn for the worse. Even in the few months that have passed since this year began, according to Mr Egeland, the UN Vice-Secretary-General with responsibility for Darfur, over 200 000 people have been driven from their homes and over 96 villages have been burned to the ground – and all this over a year since international action was taken with the intention of putting a stop to this sort of thing. This goes to show how incredibly feeble the international community is where Darfur is concerned, and the fact that the UN’s Vice-Secretary-General was prevented from travelling into the crisis zone in the first place shows that the Khartoum regime is quite blatantly defying and cold-shouldering the international community and thereby making of it a laughing stock.
That is why it is past high time that we put a stop to our recurrent feeble protests; what is needed instead is for the United Nations, NATO, the USA, the European Union and the African Union to get together around one table in order, at last, to implement a concerted Darfur policy that amounts to more than paper resolutions. What is called for, then, is a far more massive intervention there than has been seen hitherto.
It is, of course, the African Union, above all others, that needs to do something, but we ourselves cannot stand idly by while, quite openly, genocide is being committed – and that is how the United States has openly described it, even though they have not drawn the necessary conclusions from that. What we are dealing with here is, quite simply, genocide. We are currently mounting sad commemorative events to remember the beginning of the genocide in Rwanda and Burundi – and we averted our eyes from those, too. Today, everyone says that we should have intervened then. We find ourselves in a similar situation today. We look away, we do not act, we do not use the means available to us – weak enough though they are – and instead content ourselves with verbal protests.
That makes Darfur not only a disgrace to the Sudanese regime, but also to the international and European institutions. That is why I am very glad that we in this House are again returning to this issue. To put it simply, it must be abundantly clear to us that normal or more or less normal relation with Sudan will be possible only if it for once does as it has promised and allows the international institutions to do their work there.
Fiona Hall (ALDE), author. – Mr President, when a mission from the Committee on Development visited Darfur in September 2004, we were shocked to see at first hand people sheltering under twigs because their village had been bombed. We pushed hard at that time for a strengthening of the African Union monitoring mission, and in October 2004 it was indeed extended to include the protection of civilians who were under imminent threat.
The tragedy is that 18 months on, bombings, attacks and rapes are still taking place, despite the best efforts of the African Union both in the Abuja peace talks and on the ground in Darfur. There are simply not enough African Union troops to be able to control the high level of violence that is taking place, particularly near the Chad border and in the corridor between Tawila and Graida. That is why the UN must get involved in Darfur as a matter of urgency. The UN needs to back the African Union during the remainder of its mandate and be prepared to take over in October 2006.
The Government of Sudan says that this is colonialism. It is not. It is a sad recognition that earlier initiatives to rein in the violence have largely failed. Even the humanitarian effort in Darfur is now under threat, because access to the humanitarian agencies is being obstructed. With over 3.5 million people dependent on food aid and medical aid, we cannot just stand by. The violence has to stop.
Carl Schlyter (Verts/ALE), author. – (SV) Mr President, ever since I was first elected, we have debated the situation in Sudan. What is it that is happening there? Imagine a single friend being killed and the degree of tragedy and misery entailed in that death. Imagine, then, 180 000 friends having now died in the conflict. Imagine a single friend having his house burned down and being forced to leave his home. How does that feel? Imagine now those tears being multiplied by two million in Darfur today. Imagine the rape of a single relative, and imagine the same thing happening to tens of thousands of others. That is the extent of the humanitarian disaster to have hit Sudan.
So what is the government doing? In resolution after resolution we have demanded that it disarm the Janjaweed guerrillas, yet nothing happens. In resolution after resolution we have demanded that it cooperate with the international community in order to help its own population, but very little indeed happens. Matters are not helped by the fact that the UN envoy, Jan Egeland, is refused permission to travel to Darfur whenever he considers it appropriate. The Commission is now already giving EUR 160 million and my own country SEK 330 million by way of aid. If this money is to be of any use, the regime needs to cooperate rather than seek to thwart our efforts. I think that we should impose an arms embargo, irrespective of what Russia and China say, and that all the countries that give their support to an arms embargo should help one another and help prevent the arms embargo from being breached.
What is more, to imprison women who resist rape is absurd, and the four young women in question should, of course, be released immediately.
Margrietus van den Berg (PSE), author. – (NL) Mr President, Commissioner, in Darfur, millions of people are on the run. The refugee camps are packed as a result of the extensive and chaotic flight of people in need, attacked by rebels and by the Janjaweed, often with stories of pillage and rape to tell. This is a hopeless situation; the African Union is too weak and the Sudanese Government appears to be backing the Janjaweed and to be unwilling to give international rule of law, represented by the African Union and the United Nations, a chance. It seems to be backed in this by China and Russia.
Yesterday, it became known that Mr Pronk, the UN’s special envoy in Darfur, is resigning from his post. If even Mr Pronk, who I know as an incorrigible go-getter and optimist, no longer sees a chance for the peace process, then it is really time for us to sound the alarm. In Darfur, an unprecedented brutal conflict is raging, one that gives the European Union the opportunity to show what its role outside of Europe can be. This week, the one-hundred-day Rwandan genocide is being depicted here in a photo exhibition. This event epitomises the failings of the entire international community.
We are now once again being put to the test. While China and Russia veto every action, the African Union is still trying to get the Sudanese Government on board, but it is too little, too late and too long-drawn-out. It is now up to the European troika, by means of money and backing of the African Union’s peace force, to establish an actual presence in order to provide logistical support, access to food aid and protection for the people. This chaotic massacre, characterised by an unprecedentedly cruel conflict of interests, must finally stop. Today’s appeal by our House in an excellent common resolution gives clear direction and impetus to Mr Solana, the Council, the Commission, and to our governments too. The credibility of Europe’s role in the world is at stake.
Jaromír Kohlíček (GUE/NGL), author. – (CS) It is a strange fact that until oil was found in southern Sudan, Darfur was not talked about very much. Crop farmers tended to their fields, livestock farmers herded their animals. It is obvious that the Darfur region has a special attraction for some people. Secession attempts by potentially wealthy regions in Africa are nothing new. Let us not forget Biafra, Katanga and other problematic parts of a continent that is rich in natural resources. Where there is no such wealth, there are no such massive problems. After all, we will certainly find not only Russian and Chinese weapons in the region but also in the foreign military bases in Chad we will find weapons from other countries.
The interesting aspect is that we are concerned that the UN General Secretary has not been allowed into Darfur. When there were similar events in Eritrea, Parliament approved humanitarian aid for the government. Why should our resolution, under paragraph 7, not call on the EU, the USA and others to help bring the situation in Eritrea to an end as well? Although the Sudanese regime is certainly not a paragon of democracy, it would be wrong to resort to force to resolve the conflict. I agree with the resolution, albeit with these reservations.
Ari Vatanen, on behalf of the PPE-DE Group. – Mr President, my colleagues have already referred to the fact that we have discussed this issue time and time again. When it comes to human rights and the value of human dignity, we are dealing with variable geometry: when it is close to us, human life seems to matter, but when it is far away, we do not get our act together.
I have often driven in that part of the world. I know that barren land; I know how those people live – or rather, survive – in those conditions, even when there is no conflict. They are exposed to famine, shortages of food and a lack of drinking water. You cannot imagine how hard their lives are. Now, in their hundreds of thousands, they are being tortured, killed and the rest have fled their homes, and yet we will make another resolution here. That proves how powerless the international community is in dealing with human suffering. That is what it amounts to.
How many more conflicts do we need? Even in the Balkans we did not get our act together until far too late. And now Darfur is far too far away. China and Russia are very cynically blocking our efforts in the United Nations. Sudan’s rotten regime – I am sorry that I have to use non-diplomatic language – is blocking UN efforts, and we are powerless.
When we have international conflicts or problems, we need international governance. Otherwise, future generations will say to us: ‘You had the problem in your hand. You saw the dark clouds on the horizon and you did nothing’.
Ana Maria Gomes, on behalf of the PSE Group. – (PT) I visited Darfur in September 2004 as part of a delegation from Parliament, and saw the extent of the tragedy, as Mrs Hall said earlier. Afterwards, here in Parliament and in the EU, we supported the role that the African Union has sought to play in resolving the conflict. This has been dragging on for three years now, has caused over 200 000 deaths and has made 2 million displaced persons or refugees.
The United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) has gone as far as it can and the talks in Abuja are not making progress. The conflict has worsened and is spreading to neighbouring Chad. Jan Egeland was prevented from visiting Darfur – yet another snub by the Sudanese regime against the UN, not to mention the terrible war crimes and crimes against humanity perpetrated by its forces, including the Janjaweed militia. The provocative threats by Khartoum to turn Darfur into a cemetery for UN troops should not intimidate.
The international community must not abdicate its responsibility to protect. Consequently, it must send, without delay, under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter, a tough, well-equipped stabilising force, in so doing preparing the groundwork for a suitable-sized UN peace-keeping operation, both with a significant European contribution.
All Members of the United Nations Security Council must assume their responsibilities, including countries such as China that have protected the corrupt, criminal dictatorial regime in Khartoum. Furthermore, there will only be a lasting solution to the conflict if there is an end to impunity for the perpetrators of the crimes of Darfur. Accordingly, it is crucial to support the investigations of the International Criminal Court and to step up sanctions against Khartoum, strictly implementing the arms embargo and declaring an embargo on oil exports.
Kathy Sinnott, on behalf of the IND/DEM Group. – Mr President, my contacts in touch with those on the ground in southern Sudan inform me that there is a situation developing right now that deserves our urgent attention. While the government in Khartoum claims to keep peace agreements, which we know it does not, it funds the LRA – the Lord’s Resistance Army – from northern Uganda to continue the genocide for them.
The LRA lay siege to southern Sudanese villages: killing the adults, taking the children. Young girls are abducted to become sex and labour slaves and they are also sold, traded and given as gifts to the LRA arms dealers. Young boys are terrorised into virtual slavery as guards and soldiers. The LRA is only a small force, but it is increasingly expanding because abducted young boys are being used as combatants.
It is planting season now in southern Sudan. Civilians should be planting but they cannot, because of the LRA threat, which is again backed by their own government. If nothing is planted, famine will result. The situation is critical, they need our protection now. We have to ask ourselves: if Russia and China can support the government, why cannot we support the suffering Sudanese people?
Ryszard Czarnecki (NI). – (PL) Mr President, we are once again discussing Darfur here in the European Parliament. It seems to be a sort of ‘never-ending story’.
It is with sadness that we must admit that the Sudanese Government bears full responsibility for the fact that there is still fighting in this region. The government in Khartoum respects neither the international agreements nor the authority of the United Nations, regarding the most recent UN peace mission as a return to colonialism. It is worth noting, however, that the Sudanese Government only dares to behave in this way because it has not been isolated by the international community. As the honourable speakers before me stated, countries such as Russia guarantee arms supplies to this country.
Let us call a spade a spade. What we are dealing with in Darfur is genocide, which should be unequivocally condemned by the UN. It is highly inappropriate that some countries, such as Russia, are blocking the work of the UN Security Council in relation to this matter. The European Parliament should exert pressure on international opinion so that Darfur may cease to be a symbol of violence and abuse.
Karin Scheele (PSE). – (DE) Mr President, the war in Darfur, in the western part of the Sudan, has lasted since 2003, a devastating civil war that has resulted in the appalling toll of 200 000 dead and 3 million refugees, which observers describe as ‘Rwanda in slow motion’.
The European Union and the United States have expressed their support for the transfer of the mission from the African Union – whose 7 000 troops are quite unequal to the task – to troops provided by the UN. The UN’s special emissary to Sudan, Jan Pronk, sums the situation up in bitter words, saying that the UN's efforts at peace in Darfur have ended in failure, and that too little has been done too late. Some countries are treating the Sudan with kid gloves. Even though the countries themselves differ, the reason is almost always the same: raw materials and crude oil.
Our resolution emphatically calls on the UN Security Council to meet to discuss the violence in Darfur and to do justice to its responsibility for the protection of civilians.
John Attard-Montalto (PSE). – Mr President, I think we should all be a little bit ashamed of ourselves because we are living in what we are calling a diplomatic society and civilisation, which is supposed to be one of the most advanced civilisations in the history of the world. Yet we look on helplessly as victims – women, children, innocents – are being slaughtered. We talk about it, we debate it, and we try and delude ourselves that the United Nations is doing something.
The United Nations cannot do anything. We are realising that the United Nations, when faced with a regime that is prepared to do anything, whether involving nuclear arms in one country, or genocide or partial genocide of innocent people in another, cannot even visit the site where atrocities are taking place. On the other hand, we are witnessing independent action being taken by the military of a country, as happened in Iraq. And we are now calling for the Americans and the Europeans to save the innocent people in Darfur – and we are condemning the Americans at the same time for what has happened in Iraq, which was not the best of regimes.
I shall conclude by saying the situation is so grave that in my country, Malta, one third of the refugees – and we had a debate and vote on it during this part-session – come from Darfur. That gives you one example of how desperate the situation is.
Markos Kyprianou, Member of the Commission. Mr President, the Commission is extremely concerned by the situation in Darfur, which is the last open conflict on the African continent. Periodic fighting continues to erupt between the belligerents and the civilian population. In particular women and children are the first to suffer from this continued violence and the persistent lack of security.
Although the worst possible scenario has been contained by the prompt intervention of the African Union, the precarious status quo cannot continue much longer. Almost three million people are depending on lifeline humanitarian aid, but access and security conditions for the humanitarian organisations are limited and hampered by continued violence, including direct attacks against relief operations.
The conflict is now spreading rapidly into neighbouring Chad and could jeopardise the fragile Sudanese conciliation process, initiated with the signature of the comprehensive peace agreement between Khartoum and the SPLM on 9 January 2005. There is international consensus that the only way ahead is a political settlement in Darfur. The Commission, Member States and the international community are very supportive of the African Union’s objective to reach a rapid peace agreement in the talks in Abuja. This could also facilitate a smooth transition of the current military responsibilities of the African Union in Darfur to the United Nations. An indispensable move, envisaged by the African Union itself, but still being opposed by Sudan.
The Commission believes that it is now high time for the parties, under the auspices of the African Union and with the support of the international community, to identify a roadmap to peace in Darfur and for the AU-UN transition with specific benchmarks and clearly assigned responsibilities. These would allow the international community to use all means of diplomatic pressure, including sanctions, to force the progress of the whole process.
Nevertheless, to be sustainable a political conciliation in Darfur has also to be based on the provisions of justice and international support for the construction of the region. In this context, it is important that Khartoum and the rebels contribute and assist the work of the International Criminal Court on Darfur and that the donor community is ready to provide an immediate peace dividend once a positive outcome emerges from Abuja.
IN THE CHAIR: MR ONESTA Vice-President
President. - The debate is closed. The vote will take place at the end of the debates.