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Sudan : Darfur Donors' Meeting

Sudan : Darfur Donors' Meeting

Speech by Renaud Muselier, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs. Source: Embassy of France, Washington D.C., Geneva, June 3, 2004. (Excerpts)


Once again, the most vulnerable of Darfur's civilians, women and children, are the targets of armed militia. Terror, massacres, rapes. There are hundreds of victims, some displaced within the country and others refugees in Chad.

Confronted with this tragedy, our duty of humanity demands our total commitment. Because simply saying it's inevitable isn't acceptable either for the victims or the international community. Our duty of humanity and of solidarity must be translated into action not just to help these victims, but also to make a stand against the perpetrators of these crimes.

Here, we have not only a moral responsibility, but also a political and financial one. We, donor countries, must shoulder it. This is why we have come together.

But all the parties involved in the conflicts also have an obligation to shoulder their responsibilities. It stems from the rules of international law and international humanitarian law, and particularly the Geneva Conventions.

Sudan is, I know, Africa's largest country. But it's also a country too long forgotten by the international community, despite the fact that the longest-running conflict in Africa, and undoubtedly one of the bloodiest, has been going on there since 1955.

And it's at a time when we're welcoming the signature, on 27 May in Naivasha, of three protocols which pave the way in the South of the country for a return to peace and stability, that this major crisis in Darfur – whose gravity we already emphasized several weeks ago – is worsening. Let me remind you that the French Foreign Minister even went to Sudan in February this year.

What's happening in Darfur is extremely serious. The harvests are in jeopardy and the rainy season is beginning. Hundreds of thousands of people are going to suffer. This impending humanitarian crisis, the flood of displaced people and growing instability at the borders are today threatening Chad and the Central African Republic. This crisis can thus jeopardize the whole Sudanese peace process. The Sudanese people who aspire to peace must not see their hopes dashed. This is why, all together, we must act quickly because it's an emergency.

  • We face two problems: security and access to the victims.

At last April's meeting of the UN Commission on Human Rights, held at France's initiative, a link was established between access to the victims of armed conflicts and the safety of the humanitarian personnel. These two issues are inextricably linked and France never fails to reiterate them in international meetings.

Yet the High Commissioner for Human Rights has reported massive human rights violations in Darfur: attacks against civilians, murders, rapes and forced disappearances, destruction of property, uprooting of populations. He even said that these acts of brutality could constitute "war crimes or crimes against humanity".

And we well know that without security, the people won't return to their villages, and without security, international aid can't be delivered or distributed.

This is why the Sudanese government must today face up to its responsibilities, particularly by ensuring the control and disarmament of the militia, guilty of unacceptable brutality and human rights violations.

As regards access to the victims and the possibility for the humanitarian organizations to assist them, the Sudanese authorities took measures on 20 May to facilitate the access of humanitarian personnel. This is a positive step forward and these measures go in the right direction. But the humanitarian NGOs tell us that problems remain: the administrative procedures for accreditation, authorization, visas and travel permits remain complex, long and uncertain despite the emergency situation. The rainy season is going to start, there's a significant risk of epidemics. The NGOs must be able to provide assistance fast.

So I call on the Government of Sudan to make greater efforts to simplify the procedures, facilitate the access of humanitarian personnel to the people in danger. The humanitarian personnel will thus be able, as soon as possible, to start working on the ground.

This is also why it was so important to initiate political negotiations, negotiations in which I participated in Ndjamena and which on 8 April led to a ceasefire agreement under President Déby's auspices.

It's imperative for this agreement to be honoured in its entirety. It's imperative for the militia to be disarmed. It's imperative for the international observers to be deployed on the ground.

France salutes the African Union's initiative, taken with the international community's support, to send observers to Darfur. This deployment is exemplary because of its speed. Through their presence, these observers are going to contribute to stabilizing the situation. Their patrols will make ceasefire violations more difficult and deter the militia. This will simplify the work of the humanitarian personnel and encourage the people to return home, in total security.

  • I shall conclude by talking about France's financial contribution to the operations in Darfur.

By the end of the first half of 2004, France will have contributed up to €900,000 through programmes developed in cooperation with the United Nations, International Committee of the Red Cross and NGOs.

I want to salute the exemplary work and dedication of the humanitarian staff of the United Nations, UNHCR, ICRC and NGOs.

I can also announce to you €1.4 million of additional aid to the United Nations World Food Programme, in the framework of food aid for the Sudanese refugees in Chad.

This makes a total of over €2.3 million.

And aside from the emergency aid, France is preparing to resume our development cooperation.

Finally, I should like to mention the important efforts the European Union countries are making through ECHO, the European Commission Humanitarian aid Office, 18% of whose funding is contributed by France.

To conclude, let me tell you that France will continue very closely watching the progress of the negotiations to bring about a comprehensive peace settlement in Sudan. This peace is of primordial importance for Sudan, the Sudanese people, neighbouring countries and the whole international community.

This is the message I shall be taking not just to Khartoum, but also to the south of the county and Darfur, during my visit there from 20 to 24 June.

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Directeur de la publication : Joël-François Dumont
Comité de rédaction : Jacques de Lestapis, Hugues Dumont, François de Vries (Bruxelles), Hans-Ulrich Helfer (Suisse), Michael Hellerforth (Allemagne).
Comité militaire : VAE Guy Labouérie (†), GAA François Mermet (2S), CF Patrice Théry (Asie).