HC Deb 26 April 2004 vol 420 c776W
Mr. Hancock

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the situation in Darfur region and the allegations of acts of genocide committed by the Sudanese Government; and what discussions his Department has held with the(a) Sudanese Government, (b) United Nations and (c) EU on the situation. [166995]

Mr. Mullin

The reports of systematic attacks on civilians, including rape, pillage and destruction of livelihoods in Darfur are alarming. We have for some time been urging the parties to the conflict to ensure the protection of civilians and to respect the principles set down in International Humanitarian Law. We, and the UN, are agreed that what is happening in Darfur cannot, however, be described as genocide.

We have lobbied at the highest levels in Khartoum on Darfur, and are it almost daily contact with the Government of Sudan and the Darfur groups. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for International Development (Hilary Benn) spoke to the Sudanese Foreign Minister about Darfur on 24 March, and since then our ambassador in Khartoum has had a number of discussions with him.

The UN Secretary General and my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister discussed Darfur when they met on 15 April. We are in close contact with the UN, both in New York and in Sudan, on Darfur, and the Department for International Development have provided key personnel to support the UN co-ordination there. We are also working closely with the European Commission and our EU partners on this issue.

A humanitarian ceasefire agreement was signed on 8 April. This is an important step forward in resolving the crisis in Darfur. Work continues on implementation arrangements.

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