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John Bercow: Does the hon. Gentleman agree that the alternative would mean that, both legally and politically,
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the international community would be saying that the suspected genocidaire should be the arbiter of whether its victims could be rescued or protected? Would that not be a complete absurdity?

Sammy Wilson: An absolute absurdity. As has been pointed out, ultimately there must be punishment for those who have engaged in these actions. To water down what they have done might have some implications.

In Northern Ireland, we have seen over 30 years what can only be described as attempts to ethnically cleanse many places; in 30 years we have seen 3,000 people killed. Had the same happened in Northern Ireland as has happened in Darfur, we would have had a death toll of 120,000 people. That is the scale of the disaster that has taken place there. The Government of Sudan have had an important role to play in this.

The right hon. Member for Coatbridge, Chryston and Bellshill (Mr. Clarke) talked about the reticence of Front Benchers to tell things as they were, but said that Back Benchers could be a bit more forthright. He talked about the indolence of the Government in Sudan. It is far worse than indolence; the Government of Sudan have bombed villages and armed the militias to go in afterwards and wipe out whoever happens to be on the ground. I have read a number of harrowing accounts—I know that the militia have been charged with this as well—of young girls being systematically raped, not by members of the Janjaweed, but by members of the Sudanese army. Rape now appears almost to be a weapon of war. Because of the implications of admitting to having been raped in a society where rape carries great shame, some victims do not admit what has happened as it might affect their chances of marriage.

The Government of Sudan are deeply implicated. They have carried out bombings and armed the militia, and they have refused to accept any outside intervention to resolve the situation and to hand over war criminals. The hon. Member for Hackney, North and Stoke Newington (Ms Abbott) asked why the Sudan Government believe that, despite all of that being known, they can still behave with impunity. One reason is the lack of response from the international community.

Mr. Gregory Campbell (East Londonderry) (DUP): That is the most pertinent point: there is international concern, but insufficient international pressure is brought to bear on the Sudanese Government to drive them to cease their activities. Should not the outcome of this debate be a call for sufficient pressure to be brought to bear, and should that not be what is done internationally?

Sammy Wilson: I entirely agree. The United Nations has a responsibility to protect, but it cannot even agree that what is happening in Darfur is genocide because genocidal intent appears to be missing; that is what the UN has stated. Given the amount of people being killed and the fact that the killing is confined to a particular area of Sudan and that the victims tend to be of a particular colour and to come from certain clans, I fail to understand why the UN does not accuse the Sudanese Government of genocide.

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Other international players fail to do so for their own reasons. China fails to do so for economic reasons, and Russia does not do so because it wants its policies and stances to be different from those of the west. Also, some western Governments fail to do so because of the support given by Sudanese military intelligence in the war against terror. The Foreign Secretary said that we must be aware of the implications for regional and international stability. The fact is that, for a variety of reasons, the Sudanese Government believe that they can act with impunity.

The Foreign Secretary said that we must make it clear to the Sudanese Government that they will face consequences if they do not bring an end to the killing and conflict. However, although there have been fine words, let us consider the record of our Government in making clear to the Sudanese Government the consequences that they will have to face. As has been pointed out, contradictory answers have been given, even on the Government’s attitude to an arms embargo. From a recent written parliamentary answer it appears that the UK is still training troops for the Sudanese army, which has been engaged in the campaign against the people in Darfur. We have also twice admitted the head of Sudanese military intelligence to the UK for medical treatment. Dallex Trade aeroplanes that have been registered in London have been clearly identified as supplying arms into the Darfur region, but I do not know what action we have taken against that company.

It is one thing to say that we must tell the Sudanese Government that they will face the consequences. The matters I have mentioned might appear to be fairly inconsequential—it might be said that only a few troops are being trained, that only one company or plane has been identified, that only one general has come for medical treatment. However, if we are serious about taking that message to the Sudanese Government—or putting the pressure on them, as the hon. Member for Buckingham said—such small matters are as important as tabling UN resolutions in favour of international sanctions.

Members have mentioned many of the things that must be done. First, we must try to get international sanctions imposed on the Sudanese Government—to hit them where it hurts so that they cannot get the revenue to pay for the weapons to carry out the war and the genocide. I believe that there has been some movement. That is probably due to the fact that the Chinese Government are now getting nervous about the amount of pressure being applied and the talk of disrupting the Olympics. However, we must recognise that it might prove difficult to get sanctions through the UN as they might well be vetoed by China or Russia for different reasons.

The Chinese Government have economic interests in Sudan and they are importing oil from the country. They have shown a willingness to act as protector and to supply arms to the Sudanese Government. However, that should not stop us seeking to find ways to put pressure on China to do what it should do. China initially opposed the introduction of a UN-African Union peacekeeping force. Now it has suggested not only that it will support that force, but that it will
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contribute some engineers to help it. That movement and change is the consequence of pressure, and it must continue to be applied.

Mr. Tom Clarke: The hon. Gentleman is making an important point. I believe that it is possible to encourage China to make a far more constructive contribution. He also rightly mentioned that I used the word “indolence”. When I did so, I had in mind the Sudanese Government’s failure to honour the agreements that they had reached. It was in that context that I considered the word “indolence” to be appropriate.

Sammy Wilson: I appreciate the clarification, and I acknowledge that the right hon. Gentleman did not in his speech shirk from criticising the Sudanese Government for the role that they have played in the terrible situation in Darfur.

There is evidence that other bodies might be used to try to broker an agreement. We must address not only the Sudanese Government, but the various factions in Darfur. Perhaps Egypt or the Government in southern Sudan should be encouraged to put pressure on each of the factions to come together and reach an agreement that will stick. Such diplomatic pressure is important. As has been pointed out, a peacekeeping force can only play a role if there is a peace to keep.

It is also helpful that China and Egypt have suggested that they are prepared to contribute troops to that peacekeeping force. That development would at least stop the Sudanese Government using the rhetoric that any outside peacekeeping force is the west trying to impose an invading army on another part of the Muslim world. Such developments must be explored, at least to defuse that kind of argument, which the Sudanese Government might use.

Finally, in the long run we must make sure that those who are guilty of crimes in Sudan are brought before the International Criminal Court. If we get an agreement, we must make sure that it is quickly underwritten with international support, so that the resource problems that caused the conflict in the first place do not arise again and the conflict is not re-ignited. There is general agreement on what must be done. I hope that we will see robust action and movement by the Government to ensure that those parties who have dragged their heels and led the Sudanese Government not to feel under pressure will themselves be put under pressure, so that this situation can be resolved.

7.40 pm

Pete Wishart (Perth and North Perthshire) (SNP): As we debate the situation in Darfur today, we must come to the very depressing conclusion that we have been nothing other than impotent bystanders as some 400,000 people have perished as a result of violence, malnutrition and disease. On observing what is happening in Darfur just now, we can only further depressingly conclude that things are not going to get any better for a while. This is a human tragedy and a humanitarian crisis that has thus far not properly run its course. It is in fact the world’s latest episode of moral failure in responding to such humanitarian crises. I have no qualms at all about describing this as genocide—in fact, probably for the first time in my political career, I agree with
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President Bush in his use of that definition. This clearly is genocide, and we should recognise that fact and join the Americans in labelling it as such. We have to act decisively, and act now.

We have heard that the crisis goes beyond Darfur and is in fact a regional crisis. That is correct, but eastern Chad seems to be bearing the brunt. Khartoum has been spectacularly successful in exporting this genocidal destruction through its Janjaweed proxies, and through giving complicit support to some of the Chadian rebels. It is these elements that we must focus on, too.

As a consequence of this situation, we must expect during the impending rainy season and the so-called “hunger gap” to see human destruction exceeding all mortality records so far. What we are seeing is populations weakened by years of conflict, without the food reserves that they so desperately require, and without access to humanitarian assistance. If something is not done quickly, we face the prospect of hardship and malnutrition on a biblical scale. If we do nothing now, hundreds of thousands of human beings could die in the coming months from these causes.

Some three quarters of a million people are without any assistance whatsoever in Darfur and eastern Chad, and many hundreds of thousands of other innocent human beings are tenuously hanging on to what little aid is still available. Thankfully, this has been recognised by the Disasters Emergency Committee, whose initiative launched last week I very much support. We must remember that the last two initiatives that the DEC organised and campaigned on concerned the tragic earthquake in Pakistan and the tsunami in east Asia. That is the scale of the crisis that we face in Darfur, and to which the public have been asked to respond; it compares to those crises.

The British public, in their traditional way, have responded very well thus far. I was fortunate enough to be in the Scottish Parliament last week, where First Minister Salmond and leaders of the Opposition parties came together to support the DEC campaign. The case that they powerfully made was that some 4 million people are dependent on assistance in Darfur and eastern Chad. That is almost the population of Scotland. That is the scale of the challenge and test that we face, in order to make some sense of the situation unfolding in front of us.

John Bercow: Does it not also underline both the scale of the task facing the international community and the paucity thus far of its contribution that there are, as we speak, only 100 United Nations military observers in a region the size of France?

Pete Wishart: I am grateful, as ever, for the hon. Gentleman’s contribution. I shall touch on the role of the United Nations in this tragedy later.

If this situation is to be resolved, it must be resolved through political means. We must do all that we can to persuade, cajole and compel the Sudanese Government to desist from being a problem and to start being part of the solution. They must immediately stop the bombing and stop supporting the Arab militias who wantonly kill their Sudanese compatriots. They must allow and co-operate with the dispatch of additional peacekeepers to the area, so that they can stabilise
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the situation. They must assist the international community in delivering much-needed assistance, and work with non-governmental organisations to administer that assistance, so that the people on the ground can be helped.

If the Sudanese Government do not do those things, we have to make it abundantly clear to the regime in Darfur that Sudan will be totally isolated. We must convey the message that they must change their behaviour toward their own people in Darfur, or remain a pariah and outwith the reaches of the international community. More than anything else, we must say to President Bashir, “You must accept this hybrid force of United Nations and African Union nation peacekeeping troops as soon as possible, or face the prospect of increased international isolation and increased sanctions.”

Just now, there are 7,000 African Union troops in the region. That is clearly deficient for an area that, as the hon. Member for Buckingham (John Bercow) said, is the size of France. They are on a limited mandate, and the African Union itself has made it clear that it does not know how much longer it will be able to finance and resource this mission. Something clearly needs to be done to assist those troops on the ground. So far, the Sudanese Government have resisted strong western pressure for the UN to take over control of the peacekeeping mission. As several Members have said, the latest plan envisages providing perhaps up to 23,000 troops. We must stress as strongly as we can that Khartoum must allow these peacekeepers in to provide stability, and to get the aid that is desperately required to all those people who are suffering as a result of the situation in Darfur.

As I said, I welcome President Bush’s description of the situation in Darfur as genocide—that is a positive thing—but I also welcome the very strong words used by the Foreign Secretary. That is good, but I cannot help thinking that if President Bush and the current Prime Minister had acted just a little earlier—when it was becoming abundantly clear that something was going disastrously wrong—and imposed some of these sanctions then, we would not be in this situation, and perhaps many of the people who have perished thus far in this conflict would not have perished.

The Sudanese regime has had a free ride for far too long. It has thumbed its nose at the international community time and again over the past four years, as it has attacked its own people and harassed humanitarian workers in Darfur. There has been too much talk and too little pressure on Khartoum. There has been a failure to construct a robust, structured, coherent and muscular international response; putting such a response in place must be a priority.

President Bush has acted, and it is odd that it is the Americans who have taken the lead. Despite all the criticisms that we make of American foreign policy, it has to be said that they seem to have acted much more decisively than this Government and the European Union have done so far. They have imposed targeted, limited sanctions on the Sudanese leadership, which I welcome; that is a good start, although I presume that it is not likely to be enough. By way of response, we have seen the typical Khartoum belligerence: not accepting these sanctions and a failure to co-operate,
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once again thumbing their nose at the international community and the actions that it is trying to take.

I doubt whether such sanctions will be enough to change Khartoum’s behaviour. I hope that President Bush will set a deadline for compliance, and the international community should assist him in that regard. The people in Sudan cannot wait months and months for sanctions to take effect and for the Khartoum Government to respond. We need a deadline. We need to say to the Sudanese Government, “This is what we expect of you. These are the sanctions that we are putting in place. If you do not comply, we have in place a further, more stringent and robust set of measures that we will implement against your regime. You must comply, and you must do so now.”

The first thing that the Sudanese Government must do is to allow in the hybrid force; the peacekeepers are the key to all this. Some Members have referred to the limited role of peacekeepers and to the type of peace that is there to keep, and that is an issue. We have had many peace agreements so far that have failed to bring the promised peace and security, but it is only the peacekeepers’ presence that will give the humanitarian organisations, the aid agencies and NGOs the confidence to deliver the much needed aid that is required if we are to put an end to the suffering of the people in the area.

We now need to start thinking about stronger measures, so that if the deadlines are not met, they can be imposed immediately. The Khartoum Government do not require any further consideration: they have had their chance. They have had four years to try to resolve the situation. That is why we need a short deadline for further sanctions. If the Khartoum Government fail to comply, they have to know that the international community will respond.

The US President, along with the outgoing Prime Minister and the incoming Prime Minister, must turn all their efforts to securing the further strong, mandatory UN Security Council sanctions resolution. The EU could do a lot more. For a start, I hope that it will do what the US has done and impose a programme of limited sanctions. I hope that the EU will do more than that, but at the least it should replicate what the Americans have done. It is only with the UN resolution that we will make any real progress.

We have discussed the situation with China and Russia, and I endorse the arguments that we have heard about the need to bring those countries on board in this process. I can fully appreciate the Foreign Secretary’s difficulties and her reluctance to press for a resolution that may fail, but there are several levers that we could use against China. That country is the major difficulty. Yes, it has the Olympics in a year’s time and we have to make it clear to the Chinese Government that it is within our gift to disrupt them. The Olympics have been used several times—the US Olympics and the Olympics in Moscow—to make real and sustained political protests. We have to raise the spectre of such action with China and make it clear that it is within the remit of the international community to take some form of action if it is not prepared to be part of the solution in Sudan. China has to make up its mind: it is either part of the solution or part of the problem.
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There can be no ambivalence. China has tried to play it both ways, but those days will have to end and it will have to make up its mind.

We have seen some encouraging developments, including the move by the US. I also welcome the new interest in Darfur from President Sarkozy, and his attempts to break the deadlock. In the next few days, world leaders will meet at the G8 to discuss world events and issues. I know that Chancellor Merkel is keen that Darfur is discussed at the G8 and I hope that our Prime Minister will respond positively to any initiative that is hatched there. It is a fantastic opportunity to discuss the issue and to try to find a solution. I hope that the Prime Minister will hear the wishes of this House, because we want him to take the issue to the G8. I hope that he will reflect what we have said today in his contribution to the debate on Darfur and the situation in Africa.

I hope the encouraging new developments do not turn to ash, and that we can achieve a political solution to the situation. More than anything else, I want to see humanitarian aid getting through to the people of Darfur. Hon. Members have said that that is what their constituents want. The way in which they have responded to the DEC campaign tells us that this is an issue that they want us to address and achieve a resolution to. We are at a decisive stage in the Darfur crisis. The rainy season is coming in the next few weeks, and will lead to the hunger gap. If we do not act decisively now, this could be not just a genocide, but a human tragedy way beyond anything that we have seen. The people of Darfur deserve better than that: they deserve our attention and our solutions.

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