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Procedure : 2006/2625(RSP)
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Texts tabled :

B6-0513/2006

Debates :

PV 27/09/2006 - 9
CRE 27/09/2006 - 9

Votes :

PV 28/09/2006 - 7.6

Texts adopted :

P6_TA(2006)0387

Debates
Wednesday, 27 September 2006 - Strasbourg OJ edition

9. Situation in Darfur (debate)
PV
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  President. – The next item is the statements by the Council and the Commission on the situation in Darfur.

 
  
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  Paula Lehtomäki, President-in-Office of the Council. (FI) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, the European Union is concerned about recent developments in Sudan, especially the deteriorating security and humanitarian situation in Darfur. The Presidency, together with EU High Representative Javier Solana, has been working closely with EU partners and the international community to try and set common objectives and to cooperate in order to build lasting peace in Darfur. Furthermore, Pekka Haavisto, who was appointed EU Special Representative for Sudan in summer 2005, is continuing to monitor the general situation in Sudan and the coordination of EU action, and to take part in discussions with Sudan in his capacity as EU representative.

The Darfur Peace Agreement, which was signed in May by the Sudanese Government and Minni Minnawi’s rebel troops, the Sudanese Liberation Movement, was regarded as an opportunity for peace. The Peace Agreement was expected to end the three-year long conflict, which has claimed almost 300 000 lives and driven more than two million people into exile. Four months on, however, security and the humanitarian situation in the region are rapidly deteriorating. Violent attacks on villages and refugee camps, both in and outside the country, have increased, particularly in the last few months. The Sudanese Government has reinforced its military presence in Darfur. Both the Sudanese Government troops and the rebels are in breach of the ceasefire agreements. Owing to deteriorating security, the number of refugees and people in need of humanitarian aid has gone up. At the same time, it has become harder for humanitarian aid to get through, with help reaching only around 50% of those who need it.

If the Darfur Peace Agreement were implemented – and barely any progress has been made on this – it would have an immediate impact on the lives of some six million Darfurians. It would make it possible for the refugees to return to their homes and a normal life. It would make it possible for agriculture to get going, which would help ensure a supply of food, and for schools and healthcare to be established, and it would help guarantee the basic essentials of life, to name just some of the benefits. All this depends on improved security.

In order to ensure that the Darfur Peace Agreement is viable and that it can be implemented, the groups that have not signed up to the pact need to be included in the peace process. In order to improve security, it is vital that the parties involved in the conflict commit to the ceasefire and that the ceasefire is monitored. The EU has repeatedly called on the parties involved in the conflict to comply with their obligations under the Peace Agreement and the Humanitarian Ceasefire Agreement signed in N’Djamena in 2004. The European Union, and in particular its special representative, Mr Haavisto, has also been active in trying to involve those not party to the Agreement in the peace process, and to persuade them to sign up to the Darfur Peace Agreement.

The European Union is worried about the effects of the Darfur conflict on the peace process in Sudan as a whole. The conflict will have serious repercussions for regional stability in East Africa and the Horn of Africa, especially in Chad and the Central African Republic.

To support the Darfur peace process, in 2004 the African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS) was set up. The EU has supported AMIS since the launch of its operation through the African Peace Facility (APF). In all, the Union’s financial support for the AMIS operation has added up to around EUR 242 million. In addition, the Union has provided material, logistic and planning aid and support, as well as personnel. The Member States have also lent support to the operation with major bilateral contributions.

AMIS, the first peacekeeping operation in the history of the African Union, has done excellent work in extremely difficult circumstances. Its capacity and resources are nevertheless insufficient to confront the enormous challenges that Darfur presents. In spite of the huge sums of money from the EU, the operation has also had serious financial problems. From this, it is clear that the only possible and realistic solution to peacekeeping in Darfur is a UN operation.

The EU strongly supports Resolution 1706 adopted by the UN Security Council on 31 August. This expands the UNMIS peacekeeping operation’s mandate in South Sudan to cover Darfur, to continue the work begun by AMIS. The main task of the UN operation would be to support the implementation of the Darfur Peace Agreement. The protection of civilians and monitoring the ceasefire would be essential elements in the operation’s mandate. As AMIS’s biggest supporter, the European Union is very concerned that the Sudanese Government has not agreed to the UN operation in Darfur.

The UN operation is vital to improve security in Darfur and to implement the Peace Agreement in a way that is sustainable. Darfur cannot, however, be left in a ‘security vacuum’. For that reason, the EU takes a positive view of the decision taken by the African Union in New York on 20 September that AMIS’s mandate should be extended until the end of the year. The EU has undertaken to provide AMIS with support during this ‘transition stage’ too. The EU is still insisting that the Sudanese Government should agree to AMIS coming under the supervision of the UN, in accordance with UN Resolution 1706.

On more than one occasion, the Union has expressed its concern about this issue and has discussed it with the Sudanese Government. The EU has also urged other international players to take action to convince the Sudanese Government of the usefulness and necessity of the UN operation for the peace process in Sudan generally. It was with this in mind that the Finnish Presidency, EU High Representative Javier Solana, EU Special Representative Pekka Haavisto and the Member States discussed the matter in depth at their meeting during the Ministerial Week at the UN General Assembly in New York.

The EU is very anxious about human rights violations in Darfur. In particular, women and children have been the victims of physical violence, including rape. The Union backs the work of the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights to improve the human rights situation. The EU has repeatedly reminded the Sudanese Government of its responsibility to protect its citizens from all forms of violence and to guarantee respect for human rights.

The EU is one of the main providers of assistance in the reconstruction work following the civil war in Sudan. At the Oslo Donors’ Conference on Sudan in April 2005, the Commission and the Member States together promised substantial aid to cover immediate needs and start reconstruction. When the Darfur peace process starts in earnest, the EU is also prepared to aid reconstruction in Darfur. The Union will also give Sudan and Darfur substantial humanitarian aid.

It is important that the EU should have a conspicuous and active role in Sudan and Darfur. The situation in Sudan and Darfur is one of the most crucial issues with regard to Africa and the Common Foreign and Security Policy, and will stay high up on the agenda during the Finnish EU Presidency. The matter will also be raised at all the main conferences and meetings with third parties, including high-level meetings.

If no proper action is taken, Darfur will be at risk of getting caught in a new spiral of violence. And that is something we cannot afford.

 
  
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  Franco Frattini, Vice-President of the Commission. (FR) Mr President, Mrs Lehtomäki, as everyone is aware, we are at a critical moment in Darfur.

The humanitarian tragedy is continuing and even worsening, resulting in more death and suffering. Darfur is liable at any moment to lapse back into all-out war, with unpredictable and incalculable consequences for the stability of both the country and the region. The peace in the south of Sudan could be jeopardised. Several neighbouring countries, such as Chad, the Central African Republic and Uganda, and even countries further afield, such as Somalia and the Republic of Congo, could be forced to suffer the effects of this. Although we are at the height of the crisis, there is still a chance to avoid the worst of it, and to restore peace and stability.

The Commission takes a positive view of the decision taken by the African Union to extend its mandate until 31 December. That will help prevent a security vacuum in Darfur, at a time when violence is erupting once again and when the process launched by the Abuja peace agreements is at a standstill.

We regret, however, that the Sudanese Government has not yet accepted Security Council Resolution 1706, which defines the framework within which the African Union’s military responsibilities would be transferred to the United Nations. It must be pointed out that the African Union itself had already decided on this transfer back in March. The Commission regards this transfer as key to the restoration of peace in Darfur. It is therefore important to convince Khartoum to accept it. There can be no peace in Darfur if Khartoum does not agree to the transfer, and especially not if it opposes it. Khartoum has denounced this transfer by speaking of a plot devised by the West. At times, there has also been talk of a Zionist plot.

This is unfounded. There is no agenda on the part of the international community to undermine Sudanese sovereignty or, worse still, to overthrow the Sudanese regime. This shows just how urgent it is, on both sides, to succeed in swiftly re-establishing a calm dialogue on Darfur and on the issue of the transfer, in order to resolve the misunderstandings that could still exist in relation to this matter. That is the main purpose of the current intense diplomatic activity in which the Commission is taking part.

Let us remember that the aim of the transfer of responsibilities from the African Union to the United Nations is to restore security and stability in Darfur, as well as to protect its civilians and to enable the humanitarian organisations to carry out their work. It must be pointed out that 13 humanitarian workers have been killed over the last few months. This transfer is key to restoring a climate of confidence among the protagonists and to enabling the Abuja peace agreement genuinely to be relaunched for Darfur; to making the non-signatory States sign; to supporting the actual implementation of the agreement; and to preventing the structure resulting from the North-South peace agreement from being undermined. All of these aspects are also in Khartoum’s interests.

The present excessive talk, like the increased fighting, lead nowhere. Those extremists who think they can win by following the worst-case scenario and radicalisation approach are mistaken. They are greatly mistaken. This approach can only backfire on them. The conclusions of the last General Affairs Council send out a very clear and very firm message both to the rebels and to Khartoum regarding their own responsibility.

The Commission believes that there is still a possibility of de-escalation and a space in which a genuine dialogue can be resumed. It is important to act quickly, however, before this space closes up. It is in this frame of mind and with a desire to listen that Mr Barroso of the European Commission and my fellow Commissioner, Mr Michel, intend shortly to travel to Khartoum and meet President Bashir with the aim of taking forward the process of transition from the African Union to the United Nations and of relaunching the Abuja peace process.

 
  
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  Michael Gahler, on behalf of the PPE-DE Group. – (DE) Mr President, those people who have managed to survive in Darfur are in a desperate situation, with Janjaweed militias continuing to attack and destroy villages, torturing, raping, and compelling new recruits to join them on a daily basis. There are parts of Darfur that international aid organisations can no longer reach.

The Sudanese Government ought to be discharging its obligation to protect its own people, but its intentions are the very opposite, and its latest military offensive constitutes a breach of the Darfur peace agreement. I would like to give voice to my fear that what the government probably wishes to do is to pursue its strategy of destruction and expulsion to the very end.

In this situation, it is absolutely vital that the international community should implement UN Security Council resolution 1706, which opened the way to the deployment of up to 25 000 UN troops. The African Union, which has done everything it possibly can, is also in favour of a relief by UN troops, but it is of course important that it should be given every possible support – as it has been to date – until that happens. I have to say that that is, quite frankly, in my view, no more than the second-best solution, for the UN troops really need to be there right now.

A particular responsibility rests not only on the members of the Security Council, but also, and primarily, on those powers that can exercise a veto in it, for their responsibility is to the world at large, and they must not be guided solely by their own national interests.

It is with this in mind that I would like to make a particular appeal to China, which, on 11 September, together with the EU, confirmed that – and this I shall quote in English:

‘Leaders emphasised that transition from EU to United Nation operations would be conducive to peace in Darfur.’

(DE) We therefore call on China to bring its influence to bear in Sudan in order that the stationing of UN troops in Darfur may be agreed to without delay.

 
  
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  Glenys Kinnock, on behalf of the PSE Group. – Mr President, I have to say that in both the Council and Commission statements I detect a rather worrying element of complacency. You cannot talk of working with General Bashir and hoping that in the future we can persuade him. I have followed the situation in Sudan for many years and I can confirm that would not be realistic at this time in particular.

The future of the people of Darfur is now in the balance, just as much as it was before the agreement on maintaining the AU force until 30 September 2006. The government of Khartoum is answerable to nobody. It is patently failing to allow humanitarian access to some three million people in Darfur. What will the international community do? You are not telling me what you will do to hold the government in Khartoum to account.

In three months, or even earlier, the UN force must be ready to deploy, because the AU will start to pull out. The confusion about the future of the African Union is very serious: it is underfunded, overstretched and finding it very difficult to operate. A United Nations force must be deployed as quickly as possible, with a stronger mandate than it has now, and it must be capable of protecting the vulnerable and traumatised people of Darfur who are currently under such terrible threat.

No deadlines have been met by the Sudanese. Their genocidal strategy is moving forward. There is no ceasefire to monitor any more. It is pointless to talk about the peace agreement: it is finished. We said ‘never again’ in 1994 after Rwanda, and what we face now is the first genocide of the 21st century, unless we end this complacency and do something.

You talked about the key players. There are key players: China, Russia and the Arab League are also complicit in this.

One last important point: you did not talk about the need for the imposition of a no-fly zone. There have been 13 UN resolutions, each of which has called for a no-fly zone. Not for a moment has this ever been imposed. What are you going to do, Council, what are you going to do, Commission, to ensure that those Antonov planes do not continue to fly over the villages of Darfur dropping bombs on those innocent civilians? I urge you to think seriously about the imposition of a no-fly zone. Could you not consider using the French jets that are currently in neighbouring Chad to monitor the airspace and stop the Sudanese from terrorising the people of Darfur?

 
  
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  Marielle De Sarnez, on behalf of the ALDE Group. – (FR) Mr President, for three years now, and under the gaze of a powerless international community, Darfur has been the victim of a terrible tragedy.

As you have said, the conflict has caused the deaths of 300 000 civilians. Two million people – or one third of the population - have been displaced within Darfur; 200 000 have crossed the border in order to flee to Chad. Three million people are entirely dependent on international food aid. Each day, children and families are attacked, displaced and killed. The humanitarian crisis is getting worse. In the majority of Darfur, humanitarian organisations are banned from coming to the aid of some 350 000 people who need medicines and food.

Owing to the state of malnutrition and lack of water, cholera and hepatitis E epidemics are multiplying in the camps. Those in charge of the NGOs are they themselves also victims of this conflict: twelve of them have been killed in the last two months.

Insufficient as it is, the peace agreement signed in Abuja on 5 May has not helped to end the violence but has, on the contrary, given rise to a fresh outbreak of violence. The fighting and the civilian massacres have resumed. 100 000 people have had to flee the violence since May. Thousands of soldiers from the Sudanese army have been deployed once again in the region, and the aerial bombardments have resumed. In the meantime, more than two million people are trying to survive, cooped up in camps, surrounded by their enemies and regularly attacked. Hundreds of women are raped each month as soon as they leave the camp and walk a few metres to go and find some wood to burn for heating or to use for food.

The only job that these millions of people used to have was that of working the land; they now find themselves deprived of this basic right and are reduced to cultivating – when they can – a few dozen square metres around the camps, running the risk of being attacked by the very people who destroyed their villages.

They are all 100% dependent on international aid, which is not particularly generous. Some months, the food rations are halved, because there are no subsidies, because the donors did not materialise. These camps, ladies and gentlemen, are truly open-air prisons. We can no longer remain indifferent to what is happening in Darfur.

Europe has a humanitarian, political and moral duty to impose peace in this part of the world. There can be no military solution to the Darfur crisis. There is an urgent need to reopen a negotiating space and to work on a political agreement to which all of the parties concerned would fully contribute. That is essential if the population of Darfur is to support the peace process. This agreement will have to provide for the people of Darfur to be represented at the various levels of government, for a genuine guarantee that the Janjaweed militias will be disarmed and for a guarantee that the two million displaced persons and the 200 000 refugees will be able to return safely to their lands.

We also call for humanitarian officials to be guaranteed free and secure access to all of the conflict zones, and we appeal to the Commission and to the Council to ensure that the European Union significantly increases its humanitarian aid.

We also call on the Sudanese Government to end its armed offensive and to immediately accept the Security Council decision to deploy a UN peacekeeping operation with the aim of putting a stop to the violence.

It is now that Darfur needs Europe. We here, in the European Parliament, do not have the right to turn our backs on this issue.

 
  
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  Marie-Hélène Aubert, on behalf of the Verts/ALE Group. – (FR) Mr President, unfortunately, where Darfur is concerned, the resolutions and the declarations have been following on from one another for several years now with, it would seem, little to no success.

As has been pointed out, the abuses continue, the acts of violence are on the increase and the women and children are the main victims of these crimes and these atrocities. This situation is totally unbearable. Faced with that, there seems to be a growing sense of powerlessness or fatalism, but we have a duty to get involved now so that we can make genuine progress on the ground. In fact, the more time that goes by, the more the government in Khartoum thinks that it can act with impunity and says to itself that, in the end, by digging its heels in and by gaining time, it will achieve its ends.

If we want to act, then, it seems that there are three priorities to fulfil. Firstly, the top priority is to gain access to the refugees because, right now, thousands of people are in fact suffering from hunger and violence, and no one can gain access to these populations: it is this situation that must be improved as a matter of urgency.

The second priority is the fight against impunity. It is unacceptable that, despite the declarations and the vague desire for sanctions, nothing has ended up being done. The criminals and those who are growing considerably richer continue to go about their business as though nothing were wrong, and little has been done in that regard.

The third and final priority is, of course, the establishment, as quickly as possible, of a United Nations force that can go and strengthen that of the African Union, which is all the same playing an important role that should be consolidated.

So, admittedly, here we are now obliged to call on China and Russia to play a positive role in this affair, even though everyone knows that China and Russia are perhaps not examples of the ideal to aspire to when it comes to respect for human rights or for the populations affected by such conflicts. Furthermore, we must, at the same time, call for a general dialogue, as the previous speaker pointed out.

Finally, I have a few words to say about the role of oil in this affair. We are not burying our heads in the sand. We know only too well that oil stirs up conflicts, excites envy, enables people to buy weapons and also leads to standstills, particularly on the part of China - which has very important interests in that area – and of all those, and the superpowers in particular, that are now searching ever more feverishly for oil resources to which they can have easy access.

We will therefore have to integrate this issue of access to oil into a much broader, European and international, context.

 
  
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  Vittorio Agnoletto, on behalf of the GUE/NGL Group. – (IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, the humanitarian and political situation in Darfur is getting worse from one day to the next. According to Jan Egeland, the UN coordinator for humanitarian aid, the humanitarian situation has deteriorated since 2004: entire regions of Darfur have been left without any humanitarian personnel because the Khartoum government is preventing international agencies from gaining access.

The persecution of the civilian population by the notorious Janjaweed – armed gangs financed and supported by the Sudanese central government – now looks very much like genocide. The international community cannot just stand by and look on, now that the forces sent in by the Organisation for African Unity to protect the civilian population have practically failed. Their lack of any political and military credibility is now beyond doubt. That is why we support UN intervention under Security Council Resolution 1706, which the Sudanese Government stubbornly disregards.

The peacekeeping troops proposed under Resolution 1706 now need to be deployed in order to protect hundreds of thousands of women, men and children who for too long have been suffering attacks from the Janjaweed, even though previous UN resolutions have rightly called for them to be disbanded.

It would be even better, of course, if the Sudanese Government approved the deployment of the UN force; I hope it will, and I also think that the Arab League countries should put more effective pressure on Khartoum to accept the UN resolution. At the same time, however, any kind of Sudanese veto against the United Nations would be unacceptable: there are hundreds of thousands of innocent lives at stake, and we need to do something for them.

Otherwise, the entire credibility of the international community will be called into question. It is therefore crucial that the UN be allowed to send its humanitarian personnel into the whole Darfur region; otherwise it will be impossible for humanitarian aid to be distributed properly.

Sudan has to realise that it must cooperate with the United Nations in order to be fully accepted into the international community.

 
  
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  Eoin Ryan, on behalf of the UEN Group. Mr President, there certainly is unity in this Chamber this afternoon on what should be done regarding Darfur.

Three hundred thousand people have been killed and two and a half million driven from their homes. In the last month alone, 50 000 people have been driven from their homes. This really is a human catastrophe on a massive scale. The only solution is to put in place a proper United Nations force with a very clear mandate. The only way we can get that is through aggressive diplomacy. How can it take 30 days, a period of time criticised at that stage as too lengthy, to get a UN force in place in Lebanon, yet with Darfur we are talking about three years? It is because we are not as committed to this problem as we should be.

Yes, people blame the Sudanese Government, and it is to blame. Its crimes have been outlined by previous speakers so I will not go over them. It is hiding, for trade reasons, behind the governments in China, Russia, India and Malaysia, which said that they would protect the Sudanese Government and veto sanctions against it. We must put pressure on these governments to make sure that they do not allow this to happen. They and everybody must help to try to stop what is happening in Darfur. It is an absolute catastrophe.

We need a UN peacekeeping force at least 20 000 strong on the ground in Darfur if we are going to stop it. The present force of 7000 African Union troops is ill-equipped and, when you consider that the area they are covering is the size of France, it is quite impossible for them to police it. A proper UN force is needed and it is needed quickly with a proper mandate.

Sudan requires a political solution very fast. The UN and the EU must act. We must confront genocide and do everything we can to facilitate peace in the region. It has been ignored for too long, it is an absolute outrage and the Government in Khartoum cannot be allowed to get away with it any longer. It cannot hide behind other countries which say that they will veto any action taken against Sudan. We must act to make sure what is happening is stopped.

 
  
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  Andreas Mölzer (NI).(DE) Mr President, there is no doubt about it: the Darfur crisis is the result of the government’s policy of Arabisation, as well as of its willingness to arm the militias engaged in the civil war in southern Sudan.

The results of that policy are to be seen – as already emphasised in this debate – in innumerable deaths and millions driven from their homes, leaving swathes of land unpopulated. Despite that, President Omar al-Bashir denounces it as a lie that Sudanese Arabs are attacking Sudanese black Africans, and claims that human rights organisations that decry the present state of affairs are doing so only in the hope of attracting more donations.

It is evident, then, that what Sudan would prefer is to be left to itself and its civil war. The best hope is that it will agree to the extension of the mandate for a peace mission by the African Union, although those with inside knowledge describe this as not only badly equipped and under-motivated, but also – quite simply – as completely out of its depth.

Although the deployment of the UN’s 'blue helmets' promises to bring much greater success, this is rejected as neo-colonialism. Perhaps, then, this genocide might be halted if there were an agreement to send a multinational peace-keeping force composed of Africans and Muslims, in other words a joint intervention by African Union and UN troops.

 
  
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  Simon Coveney (PPE-DE). – Mr President, Darfur continues to be a humanitarian crisis. More than a quarter of a million innocent people have been killed since 2003, and a further 2.5 million people have been displaced. The UN Security Council adopted Resolution 1706 last month calling for the deployment of more than 22 000 peacekeepers in the region. However, the Government of Sudan remains opposed to such a force, accusing the UN of an exercise in neo-colonialism manipulated by Washington. This is nonsense talk and it is nothing more than the Sudanese Government playing politics with people’s lives.

The mandate of the African Union Mission in Sudan has been extended so that the UN now has three more months in which to reach an agreement with the Sudanese Government on the need for a more effective multilateral force to protect civilians. However, in the likely scenario of Sudan’s continuing to resist UN efforts, the UN must take a stronger stance. The UN may need to consider, for example, military intervention under Chapter 7, given its responsibility to protect civilians where national authorities fail to save their populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and/or crimes against humanity.

The Sudanese Government has shown no willingness to protect internally displaced persons. In fact, there is strong evidence to suggest that it has assisted and sponsored attacks on refugee camps. For the time being, support for the 7000-strong AU force is essential and the UN has agreed to give logistical and material support. The Arab League has finally pledged some economic support and EU Member States also need to be generous in this regard.

The EU has a responsibility to make Darfur an ongoing priority for the UN. More pressure is needed on China and Russia in particular to play a more positive role in Sudan. More civilians have died in Darfur than in Iraq and Afghanistan combined. We all have blood on our hands because of the slow international response to what has happened to date. This is the toughest resolution that we have seen on Darfur, but it is action that is needed. I hope we will not be looking back in a year’s time at another 100 000 dead.

 
  
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  Elena Valenciano Martínez-Orozco (PSE).(ES) Mr President, at this time when we still want – although I do not know whether we are able – to remain hopeful about the peace agreement signed in May, we are witnessing the deterioration of the humanitarian situation in the region, which many other Members have already described.

The European Parliament is once again issuing its opinion on the situation in Darfur and, in my particular case, I am adding my voice to that of the victims: the civil population, the women and the children of Darfur.

Since the armed conflict broke out three years ago, the appeals from the humanitarian agencies have become increasingly desperate. They have been entirely in vain. The more than 50 000 dead, the two and a half million internally displaced and the 500 000 refugees illustrate the tragedy of a region in conflict better than anybody’s words could.

In its resolution, my group introduced its grave concern about the violation of the rights of children and the generalised rape of women as a weapon of war. This has unfortunately not been included in the compromise resolution, as if it were of no importance.

Hundreds of thousands of children killed, disappeared, sexually abused, kidnapped, displaced, used as soldiers and then abandoned etc. can be counted and identified and, furthermore, have no access to humanitarian aid.

We are all to blame, not just the Khartoum government and the military and guerrilla factions. There is complete impunity despite the fact that Sudan had ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child and its optional protocol on children in armed conflicts.

We also have specific data indicating that, last August, more than 200 women were sexually assaulted in one single camp, and that is something that humanitarian organisations had been warning us about. This information is telling us more and more about the infernal spiral into which Darfur is being plunged and in which, once again, the bodies of women and girls are often the favoured battleground of the soldiers and guerrillas.

With regard to things that are happening today, in another camp of displaced people, rather than being protected, women have been raped and are being prevented from reaching …

(The President cut off the speaker)

 
  
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  Fiona Hall (ALDE). – Mr President, the situation in Darfur is extremely grave. The Government of Sudan is pouring its troops into the region and the extension of the African Union’s mandate by three months is only a breathing space.

The population of Darfur still faces the prospect of so-called security being provided solely by the Sudanese Government, with no international protection. Those of us from Parliament who visited Darfur in 2004 saw with our own eyes razed houses scattered with empty shell cases. That was all that was left of a village bombed by the Sudanese Government in the name of security.

Even as recently as last week, a Sudanese Government Antonov plane was bombing villages in north Darfur. If there is no international presence in Darfur there will be a total massacre, notwithstanding all the hand-wringing and assertions of ‘never again’ after Rwanda.

That is why the presence of the UN force, as authorised by Resolution 1706, is so vital. There is no more urgent task for international diplomacy than to work with Russian and China to isolate Sudan and impose a UN presence in Darfur.

The EU-China statement on 11 September was encouraging, but it needs to be built on. I would ask the Council what steps it is taking to achieve that. For its part, the African Union has said that an Africa-dominated UN force in Darfur is absolutely necessary.

On the worsening humanitarian situation, a growing number of places have become no-go areas for NGOs because of the current fighting. At the same time, the number of people dependent upon humanitarian assistance has risen to nearly 3 million. This month more than 30 new cases of cholera have been reported. Without true peace, the humanitarian effort will collapse and hundreds of thousands of people who fled their homes to save their lives will now once again face death.

 
  
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  Angelika Beer (Verts/ALE).(DE) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, I do not need to repeat what has just been said about the situation in Darfur in all its frightful cruelty.

What I do want to say right now is that I am less than convinced by what has been said by the presidency, the Minister, or, indeed, by Commissioner Frattini. For as long as those responsible within the European Union – by which I mean you, you in the Council and the Presidency – cannot even realise that what is going on at this very moment is genocide, and while you only talk about how we are going to play our part in reconstruction once peace is established, and so on and so forth, I wonder why you do not call this by its name, for what matters most of all is that this genocide – which is what is going on here – should be brought to a halt, and once that is done we can get on with the rebuilding work.

There is a need for clarity, not least within the European Union, the dilemma in the Security Council is that China and Russia are preventing anything being done. It is clear, then, that the right of veto in the Security Council must be abolished. No country on earth must be allowed to use a veto to allow genocide to continue.

Secondly – and this is something we Europeans can do – we have to spell out the fact that, under such tragic circumstances, the so-called sovereignty of the Sudanese state is very definitely negotiable. It is human security, the protection of human life, that is the ultimate good, rather than the alleged sovereignty of an undemocratic, brutal and failing state.

Let us just recall the debates we had about sending troops to the Congo and then to the Lebanon – this time we are talking about 22 000 soldiers. We cannot respond to the news that there will be an extension until December by saying ‘hooray’ and hoping that by then 22 000 soldiers will have been found for a UN force; that will not work. It would mean that we would, until December, remain passive spectators of genocide and would only then get around to grappling with the issue, without having already done anything about it. Europe cannot adopt such a policy!

 
  
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  Tobias Pflüger (GUE/NGL) (DE) Mr President, the situation in the Sudanese province of Darfur is quite obviously terrible. People are being driven from their homes, brutally, in what Jean Ziegler described as a ‘dreadful tragedy’, but it is pretty easy to say that troops should be sent, as provided for in the UN resolution. You all know what this UN Resolution says; it says that the Sudanese Government – as is customary – must give its consent, and that is precisely what the Sudanese Government is not going to do. What that means is that what is needed in this situation is a political solution rather than the calls for troops or for preparations for their deployment that we hear from within NATO.

The European Union’s part in this really is what the Council and the Commission have described it as being. It is very easy to say that we want the troops. The problem is that there are certain ground rules that must be complied with, and they do indeed say that the relevant government must give its consent, and this one has not done so. I want to underline once more what the honourable lady Member from the Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance said; particularly in Southern Sudan, there are certain economic interests that play an essential part in this conflict – reference has already been made to oil – and this involves not only China, but also, without doubt, European states, such as the country from which I come, for Germany, too, is heavily involved because of the plans for the building of a major railway line there. The call for people to be helped sounds wonderful, then, and it is one that I certainly endorse, but it should be realistic and should actually result in more humanitarian aid being provided.

 
  
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  Jana Hybášková (PPE-DE).(CS) Mr President, Commissioner, I would prefer not to speak at all, in protest at both your and our ineptitude. Yet China needs minerals, oil, markets, water and land. What we are witnessing is the Chinese colonisation of Africa. The Sudanese Government, a partner or constituent part of Al-Qaeda, longstanding home to Osama, staunch ally of Al-Tourabi, literally practices ethnic cleansing, raping and impregnating tens of thousands of women in the cause of Arab-ness and membership of the League of Arab States. The Russians supply the arms. The mission of the African Union has reached breaking point. Our glorious African intervention leaves two million people in exile and half a million dead.

I should like to ask the Council and the Commission what they are doing in order to provide immediate support for a substantial United Nations mission under Chapter VII? What actions are they taking to finally implement the no fly zone called for in 13 completely pointless resolutions? What are they doing in order to ensure that they put an end to the impunity of all those who rape and kill completely innocent civilians? It shames me that as a member of Parliament’s Investigation Committee I took on more responsibility when I visited Darfur and Abéché, and yet today all I can do is prattle on, if you will excuse the expression. Commissioner, imagine looking into the eyes of a young woman who is caring for a baby and asking her the child’s name. She cannot answer you and she says she does not know, because the child was born out of rape. How do you think you would feel?

 
  
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  Ana Gomes (PSE).(PT) The al-Bashir Government has been the main perpetrator of the strategy of genocide against the people of Darfur. The EU cannot remain under any illusions on this issue. The Commission, the Council and the European members of the United Nations Security Council must, as a matter of urgency, confront Sudan by sending UN forces to the Darfur region with a robust mandate under Chapter VII of the Charter. There can be no more excuses or dithering. The Sudanese Government must be punished if they persist in thwarting the efforts of the international community in Darfur. As a matter of urgency, bank accounts must be frozen, and members of the Sudanese Government and others already identified by the International Criminal Court as being the ringleaders of the atrocities must be prevented from travelling.

If China and Russia continue to drag their feet as regards an embargo on Khartoum, the EU must get together with the United States and declare a trade embargo, especially on weapons and oil, and a complete freeze on the financial transactions of the Sudanese Government. Military measures are also urgently required. A no-fly zone over Darfur could be operated from eastern Chad to block the Sudanese air force from attacking the population of Darfur, as I and other Members of this Chamber witnessed near Al Fashir in September 2004.

A multinational force must be sent immediately to eastern Chad to protect the refugees, to prepare the UN force in Darfur, to control the border between Chad and Sudan and to restore some stability in the region. That stability is also threatened by the heightened tensions in Somalia on account of the Ethiopian intervention instigated by the Bush Administration, which has had the disastrous outcome of strengthening the Islamic courts in Mogadishu.

Lastly, the EU must not remain silent over the role of China, Russia and the Arab League in supporting Khartoum’s strategy of genocide. After the UN enshrined the principle of the responsibility to protect, Moscow, Beijing and Arab capitals have shamed themselves by seeking to sweep the lessons of Rwanda, Bosnia and Congo under the carpet when it comes to Darfur, where a Muslim population is being massacred by Muslims.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE). – (ES) Mr President, when back in August the United Nations humanitarian aid coordinator, Jean Egeland, pointed out to us that the situation in Darfur was the worst it had been since 2004, he was also reminding us once again that it has long been time to resolve this situation.

It is true that the UN is insisting that a United Nations mission be sent to the area, but it is also true, as has been said, that the Sudanese Government’s opposition makes that more difficult. Nevertheless, as the International Crisis Group points out so often, it is our obligation to apply what is known as the responsibility to protect. We have the responsibility to protect and we cannot shy away from it.

Three very specific things can be done with regard to Darfur: firstly, very directly, we can impose sanctions aimed directly at any actor, including the government, which is currently breaching the ceasefire or directly attacking humanitarian operations and, as has also been said specifically, and I would emphasise this, attacking the civil population, particularly women.

Secondly, the African Union can and must be used to a greater extent, in order to ensure that the different parties accept at least part of the Darfur peace agreement, but, to this end, the support of international partners, including the European Union, is also needed.

Finally, and this is the most important thing, the United Nations Security Council must speed up the process of deploying United Nations forces on the ground, in accordance with the clear mandate of Chapter 7 of the United Nations Charter. Otherwise, it will be difficult to halt this massacre.

 
  
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  Filip Kaczmarek (PPE-DE). – (PL) Mr President, Darfur is a humanitarian disaster. This tragic region has reached crisis point and we need to give it our full attention and take swift action, as Mr Annan, Secretary-General of the UN, said just a few days ago. It would be hard to disagree with his views. The whole world is aware that the region has continuously been at war since 2003. As a result, 300 000 people have died and over 2.5 million have been displaced.

Alarm bells have been rung in recent weeks by humanitarian organisations working in Sudan. Three million people in Darfur depend on international humanitarian aid, including food supplies, medical aid and shelter. It is becoming almost impossible to provide this aid as a result of the escalating conflict in the region. Twelve international aid workers have been killed in Darfur since the beginning of May alone, which is more than those killed over the last two years.

Although the African Union is to remain in the area until the end of the year, it is clear that it cannot put an end to the war on its own. We should remember that this is an under-equipped and under-financed 7 000 strong contingent, covering an area the size of France. Even if it were to be reinforced by a further 4 000 soldiers, it would be unable to assist the millions of civilians under attack in the region or to guarantee the security of international organisations and protect refugees.

A number of solutions to the problem are currently under consideration. They range from deploying UN forces in the field, through substantial UN support for the African Union in terms of logistics and equipment, to NATO commitment to resolving the conflict. As I see it, one thing is abundantly clear. African countries and their leaders should be much more involved in finding a solution to this pressing problem. They are experienced, are familiar with the area and have established strong contacts there. We should therefore encourage our African partners to become more strongly committed to finding a solution to this conflict.

 
  
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  Marie-Arlette Carlotti (PSE). – (FR) Mr President, everyone is saying: ‘Darfur is on the brink of the abyss’. The parties involved in the conflict continue to kill and to rape. The civilian populations are their daily targets. Humanitarian workers are abandoning the area under the pressure of the acts of intimidation and, indeed, murders, since 13 have been killed over the last few weeks. The conflict is threatening the entire sub-region, extending, as it does, to Chad and to the Central African Republic. It seems that all is now set for the final assault. All is set for a massacre. The government is playing a cat-and-mouse game with the international community. It is a very cruel game that is paid for each day in hundreds of human lives.

Since 2004, the Union has spared no financial efforts, and this commitment has certainly helped to prevent carnage. However, a firmer political commitment is now vital. The priority is to act as quickly as possible and to deploy, in accordance with Resolution 1706, a United Nations peacekeeping force with a mandate to use force if necessary to protect the civilians.

However, the only way to protect the populations is to do so quickly, here and now - by forcing the Sudanese authorities to stop their current offensive and to apply the peace agreement to Darfur; by strengthening the mandate and by giving the material resources to the African Union forces that are on the ground and that, at the moment, do not constitute a solid enough shield to protect the civilian populations; and, as my fellow Members have said, by immediately introducing the no-fly zone provided for in United Nations Resolution 1591. Furthermore, if appeals to reason are not enough, well, let us clear the way for sanctions: an oil embargo, an international arrest warrant, and individually targeted sanctions against the perpetrators of atrocities and, in particular, against the 51 people whose names appear on the list passed on to the International Criminal Court. Ladies and gentlemen, this Parliament will not allow the first genocide of the 21st century to take place, in silence and practically in front of its very own eyes.

 
  
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  Mario Mauro (PPE-DE).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, the aim of my speech is to strip away the last veil of hypocrisy surrounding the Khartoum government’s stance.

In 2000, I went on a visit to Sudan together with the Members of this Parliament who also sit in the ACP Assembly. Mrs Kinnock and I were able to talk to Ibn al-Turabi, who was then in prison; he was an old companion in arms of Omar al-Bashir, one of the leading figures of Islamic fundamentalism in Sudan and one of the men who had organised hospitality for Osama bin Laden in Sudan.

Back then, in 2000, he spelt out to us what the Khartoum government’s ‘Arabisation’ strategy consisted of. It was a strategy to Arabise – and I mean just that: not to Islamise, but to Arabise – an area inhabited by what many official Sudanese Government documents termed the ‘Darfur monkeys’, in other words the people of Darfur.

Well, if Europe acknowledges this, it now means once again that we must not simply play along with the government in Khartoum by asking to mediate between hypothetical opposing sides, because there are no opposing sides. There is no civil war in Darfur: there are just murderers and victims. There are just murderers acting hand in glove with the men that give the orders in Khartoum, who use them to pursue a demented ideology that is no longer likely just to lead to genocide, but will ratify a genocide that has been going on for a very long time.

It is therefore crucial for Europe’s institutions to adopt emergency measures, such as those described just now by Mrs Carlotti, in order to bring on board everyone who cares deeply about the lives of a generation.

 
  
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  Karin Scheele (PSE).(DE) Mr President, the Darfur peace agreement was concluded in May 2006, and not one single deadline in this treaty has been met since then. There is no less fighting, no less violence against the civilian population; indeed, both are on the increase. Rape, carried out systematically, is still being used as a means of waging war, and a sharp increase in the number of rapes was recorded over the last three months. The Sudanese Government is still opposed to a UN mission, which would have significantly more resources, troops and powers than the present African Union peace mission, which is largely ineffective. Much as the expansion of the African peace mission to 11 000 police officers and soldiers in the Western Sudan is to be welcomed, the African Union’s continuing and collective support for UN troops shows that this can be seen as no more than a transitional measure.

It is evident that the Sudanese Government is already planning to send its own troops to protect the region. Amnesty International warns that ‘the prospect of soon being “protected” by the same government soldiers that had driven them from their homes and mistreated them, is spreading panic among the people’. Aid organisations active in the region fear that they would have to close their operations down completely if the government troops were again to come up against the bands of secessionist rebels that have not yet signed the Abuja peace treaty.

We therefore call on the Sudanese Government to comply with Chapter 7 of the UN Charter and accept the presence in Darfur of a UN peacekeeping force of the kind provided for in Security Council Resolution 1706.

Sudan is standing on the brink of disaster. Every attempt must be made to prevent another genocide on the continent of Africa.

 
  
  

IN THE CHAIR: MR ANTONIOS TRAKATELLIS
Vice-President

 
  
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  Patrick Gaubert (PPE-DE).(FR) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, as two Sudanese survivors told me, we need to break the silence suffered by the victims of the genocide.

It is on behalf of these silent victims of the genocide under way in Darfur that I have taken the floor today to direct an urgent appeal – a cry of distress – to you. It is not only an MEP, but also the chairman of an international NGO that is very involved in Darfur, who is addressing you.

I belong to a generation that vowed that, after the Holocaust, there would never again be anything like it. The words ‘never again’ are uttered repeatedly, but here we are again having to talk about this issue. Are we going to wait until all of the populations have been exterminated before we mourn for them? How many people need to die before we intervene? Is there a minimum threshold of people who need to be sent to concentration camps before we intervene? In fact, I believe that there are some victims that will never be very popular. Darfur is one of them. Mr Annan declared that Darfur was hell. Yet, it is impossible to imagine just how hellish it is for the populations tortured by the genocidal militias that are in the pay of an illegitimate government.

Are we going to add to what is a crime in itself the crime of indifference? No! The torturers need to know that we will not leave them alone because we cannot say that we were unaware of what was going on. We are aware, but we are not taking action. Europe has a powerful role to play. Europe must put real pressure on and show itself to be more offensive in demanding an end to the atrocities and the massacres and in demanding the deployment of the United Nations forces in order to protect the civilian populations in Darfur. This can only be achieved by means of diplomatic efforts and very strong international involvement. For once, the army can intervene in a positive way in order to come between the murderers and the murdered. We must demand a solution to the militias and we must call for the delivery of humanitarian aid.

As a number of my fellow Members before me have said, let us waste no time, for we are actually witnessing the first genocide of the 21st century.

 
  
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  Panagiotis Beglitis (PSE).(EL) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, Commissioner, unfortunately the war in Lebanon and the clash in the Middle East have taken up international interest and the international news at the expense of tragic developments in Darfur, where there is a humanitarian crisis, genocide, ethnic cleansing and a criminal war.

We have UN Security Council Resolution 1706, which we are calling for to be applied. With Resolution 1701 on Lebanon we had international action for its full application. Five resolutions later, however, in Resolution 1706, we unfortunately find – as regards its application –international indifference and international hypocrisy. Two sets of standards for this major humanitarian crisis which is ultimately also undermining our common European values and principles.

I believe, Commissioner, that the European Union basically has a moral responsibility, not only a political and strategic responsibility, to take initiatives. The bureaucratic resolutions of the Council of Ministers alone do not suffice. On 20 October we have the summit. What is needed from your side also is for the European Union to take an initiative in the Security Council, so that there is a common stand by all the members of the Security Council on the resolution of the problem, on the application at long last of Resolution 1706 and, because we need to speak honestly, there is an obligation for initiatives to be taken on China. China is one of the countries which is responsible for the prolongation of this impasse, of this crisis. The Arab League has the same responsibility. So take initiatives towards the Arab League, the Islamic conference, China, Russia and even the United States. The bland statements by Mr Bush and the US Congress do not suffice and, finally, Commissioner, the acquis of international law relating to the right of international intervention when human rights are being trampled underfoot must be applied.

 
  
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  Józef Pinior (PSE). – (PL) Mr President, we have all witnessed the crimes against humanity committed on Sudanese soil over the last three years. They include genocide, war crimes and ethnic cleansing. While we watch helplessly from our ivory towers, the Sudanese state is failing to fulfil the basic duty required of any state, namely to ensure the security of the population of a given territory. We gaze down from Brussels and Strasbourg on events in Sudan, despite the fact that the European Union arose from a political and moral protest against crimes of that nature. Each successive enlargement was heralded by the same clarion call: never again, never again will we allow such crimes against humanity, never again will we permit ethnic cleansing, never again will we tolerate genocide!

In the statements made today by representatives of the European Union, I did not detect such strong commitment to ensure that the European Union actually does all that lies within its power to stop the widespread slaughter in Sudan. What steps should be taken? Over the coming weeks, the Union should focus on exerting effective pressure on the government in Khartoum to ensure that it agrees to the deployment of UN peacekeeping troops on Sudanese territory. Should that endeavour not be successful, and should the government in Khartoum continue to refuse to countenance the presence of UN peacekeepers on its territory, then it would be appropriate to further increase the logistical and material support provided to the African Union mission to Sudan. If all that fails to impact on what is happening in Sudan, we should consider calling on NATO forces to ensure that the African Union’s military mission is in a position to guarantee peace and security across the territory of Sudan.

 
  
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  Paula Lehtomäki, President-in-Office of the Council. (FI) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, this has been an excellent, robust debate. I can assure you that the Council does not view the situation in Sudan and Darfur apathetically. We all agree that developments there have been very worrying, and we must do everything in our power now and in the future to improve the security and humanitarian situation in Darfur. We are constantly doing everything in our power, or at least a good deal. We are maintaining active diplomatic contact with the various parties and third countries in order to gain the widest possible support for the UN Resolution and its implementation, and to be able to step up the pressure on the Sudanese Government. Special Representative Pekka Haavisto has an important role to play in Sudan in ensuring that all parties there commit to this peace process, as otherwise there can be no lasting peace.

It is very important, and a positive sign, that the African Union has, through its AMIS operation, shown itself to be strongly committed to resolving this crisis. That dedication has had the support of the European Union, and this continues to be the case, as the EU lends support to the AMIS operation in the form of logistics, material aid, planning assistance and other similar measures. The African Union has decided to increase its peacekeeping presence – that is, its AMIS operation – by an additional 4 000 troops, meaning there will be a total of 11 000 troops stationed in the region.

When the UN operation is finally underway in the region, the easiest way to promote its acceptability in the eyes of the Sudanese Government may be for it to be made up of African and Asian troops. We also have to remember that the other neighbouring countries in the region have a very important role to play when it comes to border issues and refugee problems.

The human rights situation in the area is very worrying, as has been mentioned in this debate. The European Union has highlighted these human rights issues by including them in the agenda of the UN Human Rights Council now in process. With regard to the issue of genocide, and the use of this term in particular, we should remember that the International Criminal Court is investigating this at present, and the European Union supports the work it is doing.

There is not just one key to a solution on Darfur and Sudan. It is very important that we make progress along all the paths open to us in an effective, broad-based, and coordinated way, and in a spirit of cooperation.

 
  
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  Franco Frattini, Vice-President of the Commission. – (IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, I agree entirely with the conclusions expressed by the Minister, who is representing the Presidency.

I do not think anyone in this Chamber is in any doubt about the catastrophic scale of the Darfur tragedy, just as there cannot be any doubt that it really is genocide. Today's debate, however, touches on a much more general political problem that is extremely important for this Parliament and for the European Union’s institutions in general: the Union’s role as the promoter and defender of fundamental rights outside its borders.

We often wonder whether the European Union can and must (I personally think it can and it must) be a standard-bearer throughout the world for the fundamental rights primarily of respect for human dignity – human dignity that has been utterly destroyed in the Darfur tragedy. For it to play that role, however, the great political debate that we must address is how Europe can take these values beyond its borders and uphold them when there are other parties like the Sudanese Government, which tolerates and encourages fundamentalism and the most violent, horrible excesses committed by the militias. Well, many of you have said in no uncertain terms, ‘Let us go in with troops and weapons to implement Article 7; let us send in a military force that can use force to put an end to this catastrophic situation.’

I am well aware that this is one of the options provided for in the international treaties, but then I remember that, when promoting human rights around the world, we Europeans have often talked of guaranteeing the so-called principle of ownership: in other words, we cannot decide here in Strasbourg or Brussels on the right path for another country or continent to follow and simply impose it on them. We have to work with the local institutions and, in my view, the first part of the solution will be to work with the African Union, strengthening its role and ensuring that it gets the practical help it needs. We do not want Europe to be seen as aloof one moment and suddenly in there the next, deploying troops and weaponry and playing a role that, if anything, the African Union ought to be consolidating and strengthening.

As the Presidency has just pointed out, that is the first step. The second step along this path will be to provide logistical assistance on the ground. That is a job that we – the European Union and its institutions – can do, and the Commission can also provide economic aid. How can we guarantee that the humanitarian aid will actually reach its intended destination: the suffering population and the NGO workers on the ground who are risking their lives? Logistical assistance on the ground is thus another area where we, the European Union, can make a difference.

The third step, which has not really been given enough weight by some people, is how to work with the Arab League. Ladies and gentlemen, we come up against the sensitivities of Islamic or Arab countries in many parts of the world. In some cases they are our staunch allies, as in the fight against terrorism, for instance. In other cases they prove so extremely sensitive that it is advisable for us to reach agreements before intervening.

What is the difference between Darfur and Lebanon? The difference is that in the case of Lebanon there was an agreement, and the troops went in as peacekeepers because the Lebanese Government and the Israeli Government both accepted it. The Sudanese Government, on the other hand, still rejects the idea. Do you believe that it would be possible to intervene unilaterally without a strong role for the Arab League? Do you not think that, without a strong role for the Arab League, such action would send out an extremely negative signal to that enormous population – which unfortunately harbours the most fundamentalist ideas in the world? Would that not strengthen the extremists and fundamentalists, who would then have a further argument in their propaganda arsenal?

The third part of the solution, therefore, is the Arab League. We are working to encourage the Arab League to distance itself from the Government of Sudan and to withdraw its consent and support; as you know, this is happening to a certain extent, but we have to do more along these lines.

Then there is another point that somebody mentioned: what if the Khartoum Government does not listen to the international community? I have always been of the opinion that military action must only be used as a last resort, even if humanitarian intervention is justified under Article 7 of the Treaty.

There are some other middle paths. In this context I heard somebody mention a ‘no-fly zone’; that is a measure that could be explored, adopted and proposed. You realise that, if we proposed action under Article 7 to the Security Council, China, like it or not, would probably use its veto and so nothing would happen. I wonder, therefore, whether it might not be better to work on an initiative – which might not solve the problem but it would help – such as stopping aircraft from overflying the area and killing people with bombs and air strikes. That is another concrete possibility.

I shall end my speech with two remarks. First, President Barroso and my colleague Louis Michel will be going to Khartoum. They will be sending the highest echelons of the Sudanese Government a strong message explaining that the European Union intends to take strong diplomatic action, as well as action on the ground to help the people who are suffering. The message will refer to the isolation to which Sudan would be consigned if it continued to refuse to listen to the international community. Such isolation would be particularly devastating for Sudan itself: being isolated from the rest of the international community would not be in Khartoum’s interests; that, then, ladies and gentlemen, would take away President Bashir’s excuse for maintaining such a negative attitude.

Another very important point that the Commission’s action will address is the role of women and children. We talk about this subject all the time here in Europe: we worry about the victims of human trafficking and forced prostitution and we have even set out a European roadmap for children’s rights. Naturally, we cannot shut our eyes to the rights of women and children outside Europe in such a tragic case as Darfur.

Personally, therefore, I hope that this Parliament will stand firm in its measures on Darfur precisely so as to provide special protection for women and children, who are, as always, the victims most at risk.

 
  
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  President. – I have received 6 motions for a resolution in accordance with Rule 103 (2) of the Rules of Procedure(1).

The debate is closed.

The vote will take place tomorrow, Thursday, at 12 noon.

 
  

(1)See Minutes.

Last updated: 28 November 2006Legal notice