HL Deb 05 May 2004 vol 660 cc53-4WS
The Lord President of the Council (Baroness Amos)

My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for International Development (Mr Hilary Benn) has made the following Statement.

The Government are gravely concerned about the situation in Darfur, western Sudan. The UN estimates that the fighting has led to the internal displacement of over 750,000 people, with about 130,000 refugees sheltering in Chad. The civilian population is in a precarious state. Humanitarian requirements for food, water and shelter are enormous, but access remains limited. Civilian protection is a major concern with reports of systematic attacks on civilians, including killings, rape, pillage and destruction of livelihoods. The approaching rainy season, due to start in mid-May, will add to the problems, increasing the risk of epidemics and hindering the movement of relief supplies.

The humanitarian ceasefire agreement, signed on 8 April, is a welcome step forward in resolving the crisis in Darfur. The parties must now live up to those commitments and allow international monitoring with full access to the areas and people affected.

James Morris, head of the World Food Programme, has just returned from a mission to Sudan. I met him on 4 Mary and discussed the grave humanitarian situation and the need for the international community to do more.

I have therefore today agreed an additional £10 million from our contingency reserve for the continuing and severe humanitarian needs in Darfur. This will bring total UK commitments for Darfur to £19.5 million. The UK is the second biggest donor to the Darfur crisis, after the US. Additional information on the UK response to date is set out below.

October to December 2003

Early assistance for organisations with some access (albeit very limited and variable) to Darfur:

Save the Children UK (for north Darfur) £0.5million

World Food Programme £2 million

International Committee of the Red Cross £1 million

Assistance to refugees in eastern Chad:

UN High Commission for Refugees £1 million

Total financial assistance October to December 2003: £4.5 million

Continuing pressure on the Sudanese Government to allow humanitarian agencies unimpeded access to affected populations and security to operate, and to stop the fighting.

January to March 2004

Following partial opening up of Darfur for humanitarian agencies, support to meet basic needs of affected population:

UN Children's Fund £1 million

Médecins Sans Frontières (for south Darfur) £1.15 million

GOAL (for north Darfur) £0.58 million

Action Contre la Faim (for north Darfur) £0.25 million

Additional assistance to refugees in eastern Chad:

World Food Programme £1 million

UN High Commission for Refugees £1 million

Total financial assistance October 2003 to March 2004: £9.5 million

Support to UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs to improve its co-ordination and assessment capacity in response to the crisis:

Senior humanitarian adviser based in Khartoum for three months (extended to six months)

Three humanitarian affairs officers based in Geneina, El Fasher and Nyala for three months

One support staff for one month through International Humanitarian Partnership

One focal point for UN co-ordination and logistics for one month through UN disaster assessment and co-ordination team

Continuing pressure on the Sudanese Government to allow humanitarian agencies unimpeded access, protect civilians from attack and agree a ceasefire with international monitoring.

Involvement in ceasefire talks between SLM/JEM and the Government of Sudan in N'Djamena.

April 2004 onwards

Oxfam (for north and south Darfur) £2.2 million

Planned further contributions to UN and other international organisations.

Total financial assistance to date: £1.7 million.