HL Deb 05 May 2004 vol 660 cc117-8WA
Lord Hylton

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What they consider to be the best arrangements for monitoring ceasefires and delivering humanitarian supplies in Darfur, Western Sudan; and how these arrangements should be implemented. [HL2542]

Baroness Amos

The 8 April Ceasefire Agreement provides for a Ceasefire Commission, with a role for the international community. DfID hopes that such a monitoring mechanism will help ensure the protection of civilians and also the effective disbursement of humanitarian assistance. DfID is in close contact with the parties and other members of the international community, including the African Union (AU), to try to help set up such a monitoring mechanism as quickly as possible. The AU chaired a meeting on this matter in Addis Ababa on 19 to 20 April, and we understand that it is currently in consultation with the parties. DfID is in almost daily contact with the government of Sudan and the Darfur groups about the crisis in Darfur.

In order for a meaningful humanitarian response to be conducted, the government of Sudan must allow unfettered access for humanitarian agencies and ensure civilians are protected from attack. Access has improved over the past few weeks, but is still limited. Agencies continue to be frustrated in their attempts to scale up their responses appropriate to the deteriorating context. Security is a real concern, with ongoing attacks on civilians. Capacity to deliver remains stretched. It will be important for humanitarian agencies to pre-position and distribute sufficient relief items across the region before the rainy season begins in earnest in June. This will need to be done in an appropriate manner to ensure adequate and effective protection.