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Since October last year, the US has been following the path of appeasement, and as its special envoy acknowledged under questions from a congressional committee, it is dealing with senior officials of a genocidal regime. If there were signs of reform, the new policy might be politically, if not morally, justifiable; but the goals of US policy in Sudan-the establishment of stable, sustainable governance and the prevention of a haven for Islamist terrorism-are nowhere in sight. Are we following in the footsteps of the US, as we usually do? Will the Minister say what is our policy, and that of the EU, on direct contacts with the regime, and as a result what concessions the regime has made on the implementation of the comprehensive peace agreement?

Meanwhile, the UK is a substantial contributor to the funding of UNMIS, the UN Mission in Sudan; UNAMID, the hybrid UN/AU mission in Darfur, and MINURCAT, the UN mission in Chad and the CAR, where the spillover from Darfur is a major causal factor of unrest. How much of the $2.2 billion cost of these three operations are we paying for as a Government, and what personnel are we providing? Is each of these operations likely to continue into 2010-11, and will their budgets be of the same order of magnitude? How can the Security Council justify spending such a large sum of money on a state which has defied the principles of democracy and human rights, and is heading now for a rigged vote?

The one bright spot on the horizon is that the terms of the referendum on the status of southern Sudan appear to have been agreed between the Government and the SPLM. I am pleased to hear that the people of Abyei, which is on the borderline between north and south, are to have their own referendum. South Kordofan and Blue Nile are to have what are described as "public consultations", although it seems that the terms of reference and timing of the consultations have still to be announced. If the Minister has any information about the details, it would be useful for it to be put on the record in this debate. I understand that the Security Bill, passed at the same time just before the Sudan Parliament was prorogued for an indefinite recess, provides a far-reaching power to arrest people without their constitutional right to fair process, legal counsel and a proper prosecution with a stated charge.

Although both parties want the April elections to succeed, the SPLM challenges the validity of the census which determined constituencies and boundaries, and there is the problem of the 2 million displaced people in Darfur who will be disfranchised because they would have had to return to their homes to be registered three months before 7 December, the last date of the process. The conflicts in South Kordofan, Blue Nile and Abyei must have made registration there equally problematic. Can the noble Baroness give us any indication of how many of the people who

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would legitimately have been entitled to return to their homes and register to vote are now being deprived of their opportunity to take part in these elections?

The International Crisis Group recommends that a mediator of international stature be appointed, to convince the NCP and SPLM that they should renegotiate the timetable for meeting the comprehensive peace agreement benchmarks, with the April 2010 elections postponed to November, but the referendum still being held in the first week of January 2011. What is the Government's view on this proposal, and do they know what the reaction to it by the parties has been? Of course, if the Government have no intention of allowing free elections, a seven-month delay would be futile because the same considerations would apply after that gap. In any case, steps have to be taken to prevent a constitutional vacuum in July when the GNU and other interim institutions created by the comprehensive peace agreement expire. Does this not require a new protocol to the CPA? What steps are being taken for that purpose?

The CPA contained no provision about delineating the border between north and south, and in the five years since it was signed, that deficiency has been ignored, as the noble Earl, Lord Sandwich, pointed out. Since the main oilfields are in the border region, the matter has become extremely sensitive. Khartoum has been accused by the NGO Global Witness of falsifying the oil production figures so as to short-change the south on the revenue-sharing. Is it possible that the two entities might agree to commit themselves to agreement on definition of the line by an independent international commission, as with the Lauterpacht commission on the boundary between Eritrea and Ethiopia? If this is not practicable, what other methodology should be considered for reaching the decision in less than 12 months' time?

Finally, several noble Lords mentioned the depredations of the LRA, notably my noble friend Lord Chidgey and the noble Lords, Lord Sheikh, Lord Judd and Lord Alton. It has continued to wreak havoc in Western Equatoria, and on an even larger scale over the border in DRC. The noble Baroness asked whether UNMIS could be given a more active role in protecting civilians, presumably on the lines of the Security Council's Resolution 1906 giving an enhanced role to MONUC. Others, notably my noble friend Lord Chidgey and the noble Lord, Lord Alton, have made a case for strong action on this if the election is to be successful. It is an interesting idea that the goals of the two missions should be closely aligned, and it leads me to ask whether the Minister thinks that it would be possible to go a stage further. If UNMIS and MONUC were to co-ordinate drives against the LRA, as my noble friend Lord Chidgey was suggesting, by the regular armed forces on both sides of the DRC/Sudan border, it ought to be possible to eradicate this very unpleasant armed group once and for all.

1.27 pm

Lord Astor of Hever: My Lords, I, too, thank the noble Baroness, Lady Cox, for introducing this important debate on recent developments in Sudan. I echo the

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remarks of the noble Lords, Lord Avebury and Lord Judd, on the noble Baroness's continual interest and expertise in this area.

One of Sudan's most violent regions, Darfur, has almost disappeared from the news completely and has been deemed a "low intensity conflict". But the magnitude of the conflict has not lessened for those living in it who after all these years are still struggling to survive. Even the very survival of the state is uncertain, as is the quest for peace in this fragile country.

This is still the biggest humanitarian operation in the world, with almost 4.7 million people dependent on aid. More than 250,000 refugees from Darfur have lived destitute lives in truly horrendous conditions in refugee camps in Chad for six years. Camps with more than 2 million internally displaced people inside Darfur are even worse, and 30 per cent of those displaced are school-age children. On a daily basis, men, women and children as young as eight are raped, killed or abducted the moment they step out of camps to get food or water. Sadly, there have been reports of these atrocities occurring within the camps, perpetrated by family members, refugees and, disturbingly, some aid workers. This is not isolated in Darfur; it is occurring, and is largely undocumented, right across the refugee camps and killing fields of Sudan and its neighbouring areas.

Several noble Lords mentioned the Lord's Resistance Army, which emerged in Uganda and has kidnapped tens of thousands of children during two decades of guerrilla war. There are reports that the LRA is now striking across Sudan's south-western frontier, hunting for children. What representations have the Government made to the peacekeeping forces in Sudan to bring to their attention these security breaches and human rights violations so that they can act against them?

Part of the crisis in Sudan is caused by the influx of refugees from conflicts over the border in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic. Two thousand people have been killed in southern Sudan since January last year, including in horrific massacres. The United Nations mission to Sudan has described the situation in southern Sudan as a "humanitarian perfect storm" caused by intertribal fighting, a food deficit and a budgetary crisis. What are the Government doing to help resolve these three causes? What is the Government's stance on Omar al-Bashir's refusal to recognise the International Criminal Court, thereby evading justice for the crimes that he has been accused of committing? Many Sudanese do not recognise the ICC. What efforts are the Government making to strengthen its reputation and influence?

Despite the unimaginable monstrosities that continue in Sudan, there have been positive developments in some areas. Most notably, after much negotiation, the north and south have agreed on terms for a referendum in 2011 on southern independence. This was mentioned by my noble friend Lord Sheikh. Elections are due to be held in April this year. They will be the first since 1986. What actions are the Government taking to ensure that Sudan keeps its promises? How will both these events be policed and monitored for transparency and fairness? This point was made eloquently by the noble Lord, Lord Alton. It is almost certain that

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violence will increase in the run-up to these events. What plans are in place in anticipation of such an occurrence? Will the Minister inform the House of any plans and support that are in place to assist Sudan after the election and referendum?

The implementation of the comprehensive peace agreement is a step towards enhancing political stability in Sudan. It provides a framework for wealth and power sharing. It also establishes restrictions on the resupply of military equipment to forces in the agreement's ceasefire zone. However, a study by the Geneva-based Small Arms Survey accused forces in north and south Sudan of engaging in an arms race that risks plunging the nation back into civil war. The study stated that,

In the light of the fact that the report says that EU-based organisations are facilitating the arms trade, what action will the Government take to stop such activities?

Although Sudan is not officially at war, we all know that this does not equate to peace. All the underlying causes of conflict remain and extreme violence could return very quickly. My noble friend Lord Sheikh pointed out that our historical connections with Sudan go back a long way. Therefore we in the United Kingdom must do everything in our power to help that country's quest for peace.

1.35 pm

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead): My Lords, as all noble Lords have quite rightly done, I pay tribute to the noble Baroness, Lady Cox, for her unstinting efforts and commitment on behalf of Sudan. Having visited Sudan many times myself, I know how respected and known her work is in that country, and we are very grateful to her for instigating this timely debate.

As all noble Lords have indicated, these are crucial times for Sudan. As the fifth anniversary of the CPA approaches, we know that that country is still suffering from relentless, pervasive poverty and violence. In southern Sudan in 2009, 2,500 people were killed and 350,000 people were displaced. That is not a firm peace: it must be described as still a fragile peace.

The CPA ended 20 years of war, during which millions of people died and thousands of women and children were captured and taken to live in the north. However, this week sees the launch of Sudan 365, which will take place across the world. There will be drumming outside 10 Downing Street, the visit to the Prime Minister of Archbishop Deng and lots of opportunities for us, including this evening when an excellent multi-agency report will be launched here.

This debate has, as the noble Baroness, Lady Cox intimated, added a great deal to the essential efforts needed to ensure that the campaign can see greater engagement and to the recognition of the dangers of escalation into further conflict in Sudan. That is why we in the UK must continue with our strong and determined engagement in Sudan, and must be especially vigilant as it faces an election in a matter of months and a referendum on separation in January 2011. Our task is to ensure that that election is credible, and that

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difficult outstanding issues are dealt with and resolved ahead of the referendum. This will be necessary regardless of which way the people of southern Sudan vote next year.

The issues must be seen in the context of the fact that the south is awash with small arms, there is fierce competition over natural resources and there is the added misery inflicted by the LRA. Many noble Lords have alluded to that. In many areas, access to people needing humanitarian aid is difficult and deteriorating. We must work to ensure that this is improved and that the capacity of local NGOs and churches in the south can be increased, because they alone will be able to reach the more remote areas. As well as international engagement, Sudan's political and regional leaders must, in the coming year, redouble their efforts and engage in substantive political dialogue. This is the missing objective that we must emphasise. The motivation must be to steer a course away from violence, poverty and inequality.

Many questions were raised and I will do my best to deal with as many as possible. I will deal first with the points raised by the noble Baroness, Lady Cox. A number of noble Lords mentioned the report of the International Crisis Group. I agree that it is an excellent report and we welcome it, along with other reports from NGOs and think tanks such as Chatham House that are now being released.

On the question of insecurity in southern Sudan, we know that more people have died in the south as a result of tribal fighting than have died in Darfur. That is a shocking statistic. Attacks by the LRA have forced 300,000 people from their homes-more than double the number in 2008.

The Government are supporting a range of programmes to strengthen law-enforcement capacity and community-led security work, which is very important, as well as the promotion of reconciliation.

On the issue of the demonstrations, of course we are deeply concerned at the Khartoum Government's handling of the peaceful demonstrations held in Khartoum. In the context of this and other forms of violence, elections must be credible. Along with our international partners, we will be closely monitoring the run-up to the elections and polling itself, in order to ensure that freedom of expression, freedom of speech, media freedom and other precursors to a credible election are in place. We want full monitoring, as many noble Lords have said that we should, and we are keen for an early decision to go in from the European election observation teams. They took a technical mission before Christmas to make assessments, and we are waiting now to hear from them, but I am confident that they will announce that they will be taking a substantive mission to Sudan very soon to prepare the electoral commission work, and so on.

We welcome the Referendum Bill's passage through the National Assembly and see it, as the noble Baroness, Lady Cox, suggested, as an important step in the progress that must be made towards the referendum in 2011. We know that it is essential that we build trust between the two sides. They must work together before the referendum, not at cross-purposes. On our development money and what we are funding, the

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budget in Sudan is £115 million for 2009-10, rising to £140 million from this year to next year. Our funding is focused on six thematic areas: supporting greater power-sharing and democratisation; promoting wealth-sharing; enhancing security, justice and reconciliation; strengthening public institutions to enhance the delivery of basic services-that includes education, which was raised by the right reverend Prelate, and I will come back to that later-improving natural resource management; and meeting the challenge of climate change, which has been proven to have important effects on conflict.

On the question of whether we are protecting civilians, raised by the noble Baroness, Lady Cox, and others, we have called and will continue to call for measures to protect civilians and give proper priority to those operations. We also call for close co-operation with the UN missions in LRA-affected areas-in particular, MONOC and UNMIS. The noble Baroness asked about mobile polling stations. Elections are currently scheduled for 18 April, and my latest news is that they will extend for two days. In rural areas, this is expected to give people three days to vote. As mobile polling stations would be moved around during the day, the concept has been rejected by national stakeholders, as the perception is that they would increase the risk of fraud and cause misallocation-which is a euphemism for losing ballot papers on purpose. That is probably a good point. The option for polling stations which, although stationary during the day, change location each day is still being considered, and that may be a helpful answer.

On the arrest of SPLM leaders, we are deeply concerned that Pagan Amum, Yasser Arman and others were detained in Khartoum on 7 December. We urge the Government of Sudan to avoid the disruption of peaceful protests, to respect the rights of freedom of assembly and freedom of speech, and to protect people from arbitrary arrest and detention. I will be raising that and other issues with the authorities in Khartoum when I am there next week.

On the former African slaves we are greatly concerned that, five years after the signing of the CPA, instances of abduction between north and south Sudan have not been investigated or resolved. We will continue to press the Government of Sudan to respect human rights and bring an end to the alarming culture of impunity which is allowed to exist. Again, I assure the noble Baroness that I will raise the issue next week.

Several noble Lords raised the issue of eastern Sudan. The population in the east is one of the poorest and most disadvantaged in the country. We are seeking increased focus on the situation in the east. We urge Sudan's political leaders to ensure implementation of the remainder of the eastern Sudan peace agreement. I can inform the noble Baroness that we are also providing funding and support through the UNDP to the state Governments in the east.

How do we ensure that our funding reaches marginalised people? In such a deeply unequal society as Sudan, we are well aware of the issue of marginalisation. DfID's approach is very much about reducing poverty and reaching the more marginalised people. Again in

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the east, we are involved in healthcare services, demining-another important issue-demobilisation and reintegration of former combatants. On EU funding for the east of Sudan, there are some development programmes, but perhaps we should press for more.

The noble Lord, Lord Sheikh, mentioned Abyei. The implementation of the ruling in July 2009 is a crucial part of the CPA. We are concerned that, despite public commitment by both the NCP and the SPLM, as the noble Lord suggested, progress remains very much behind schedule. Only a small number of border markers have gone down, and we continue to press for urgent action on that. A representative from our embassy visited Abyei in December as part of a joint UK-US evaluation, and we will continue to raise our concerns.

We are marking the fifth anniversary by a statement from the Prime Minister, the Foreign Secretary and the troika. The maintenance of the CPA for that period represents some achievements, but we hope that it will galvanise us to achieve not just a CPA that is a short-term, intermediate measure, but one that will lead to long-term peace and security for the people of Sudan. On Kordofan, Abyei and Blue Nile, we have provided humanitarian and early recovery support to the traditional areas since the signing of the CPA-£5.1 million to South Kordofan in 2008 and £28 million through the multi-donor trusts since the CPA was signed. We have committed £30 million over the next three years to provide basic services to those areas. On voting in Abyei, the referendum commission will decide who is eligible, as the noble Lord suggested. We welcome the recent improvement in relations between Chad and Sudan, and encourage more concrete steps likely to build security in the region. I have probably said enough about the assessment of the security situation in the region.

Several noble Lords asked about the LRA. In Sudan, we have raised the issue of the LRA at a senior level with the Government of south Sudan, including the chief of staff of the SPLA. We have urged the Government of south Sudan to co-operate regionally to address the issue robustly-more robustly than we have seen to date. We assess that LRA units are currently active in north-east DRC, south Sudan and the Central African Republic. It has been suggested, including by some Ugandan officials, that the LRA could, under continuing regional military pressure, head for Darfur or Chad. We have no confirmation that that is the case. We are providing significant humanitarian assistance to those who are displaced. DfID is the largest donor to the Common Humanitarian Fund. We are providing £6 million to the ICRC in Sudan and assistance and protection to those people displaced by the LRA.

Why has Joseph Kony not been arrested? That is a very difficult question, and I wish that someone could come up with an answer. To date, we have not been able to do so. We do not comment on intelligence measures, as I am sure that the noble Lord will understand, but I would be happy to offer any more detailed briefing to him on the matters that he raised. The LRA's impact is disproportionate to its size and we must do all that we can to end that terrible campaign. We will be in touch very soon.

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We will continue to call for the protection of civilians and for close co-operation between the UN agencies. As for what we are doing to facilitate more defections from the LRA, as noble Lords will be aware, Uganda and other countries involved in operations against the LRA are working on encouraging defections. To some extent that is working; it includes work with the International Organisation for Migration, with UNICEF and with MONUC. We are studying whether more can really be done. I can come back to noble Lords on this when we have a better idea of what is possible in dealing with the abductions and coercion and the terrible implications for the individuals.

Will the Government make representations to the Security Council? The Security Council discussed the LRA in November and the Government very actively emphasised the need for regional governments to do all they can, and other matters. The noble Lord, Lord Chidgey, asked about the breakdown of the £400,000 and MONUC. I do not have those details to hand but, again, will be very happy to follow that up with him.

Lord Avebury:What does the noble Baroness think of the suggestion that there should be greater co-operation on military action against the LRA by all the Governments involved, particularly the DRC and Sudan?

Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead: I am sorry-we did not sit down for interventions in the other place where I worked. I shall have to learn new habits.

The activities of the regional players are now very important. They are all actively working to deal with the effects through regional military co-operation and are attempting to follow through. I will happily come back with more detail on the point that the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, makes, because quite a lot can be said on it.

On the north-south civil war, we believe that neither party in Sudan wishes to return to it. What possible interest could the north or, indeed, the south have in perpetuating further tension and conflict? However, we need to see full implementation of the CPA. We are pushing hard for that and on all the post-referendum and oil-sharing issues that have been raised.

As for the £54 million announced yesterday, this will provide £36 million to the Common Humanitarian Fund, £10 million to development in the south and a further £8 million to supporting the election. On the troika, we have been working very closely with all the players in Sudan-the United States, the Norwegians and others who, like us, have a close affinity and concern. We meet regularly with donors and agents. Regular telephone videoconferences and so on are taking place on these matters.

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