SUDAN WATCH: Important BBC Four Radio Interview with Hilary Benn: Sudan's curfew hinders Darfur peacekeepers and aid workers

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Important BBC Four Radio Interview with Hilary Benn: Sudan's curfew hinders Darfur peacekeepers and aid workers

Thanks to a British Sudan Watch reader in the UK for posting the following comment and link to interview with Hilary Benn:
"The short-term incentive for other states to send peacekeepers to Sudan's Darfur is of course missing. But a more serious problem is how to moderate the rights of a sovereign government.

A recent post here reports: Sudan is hindering the African Union's ability to monitor a ceasefire in Darfur by imposing a curfew and restricting airport access, the head of the mission said on Tuesday. . . [UK Cabinet Minister Hilary Benn] urged the local state governor to lift the curfew. "I can see no justification for imposing a curfew on peacekeepers".

The UK Minister talked this morning (22/2/06) about the possibility of a UN mission for Darfur. He said the Sudanese government may be failing to meet the obligations it has entered into for protecting its people. If this is the case, the international community should act. If it does, Sudan shouldn't be able to impose preconditions on such UN official missions as it is doing on the AU at present."
This morning, I started transcribing the interview but it is taking me too long to type. Here's what I have so far - will add more later if able to transcribe more:

Hilary Benn

Photo: Hilary Benn

BBC interviewer: A ceasefire was signed in Darfur in April 2004. It's been widely ignored. Raids by the Janjaweed militia are continuing despite the presence of African Union peacekeepers. A curfew imposed by the Sudanese government is intefering with the AU's ability to stop the atrocities that's something the Intenrational Development Secretary Hilary Benn says he'll puruse when he meets members of the Khartoum government today. His visit to the area comes as the US is increasing the pressure on the UN to pass a resolution before the end of this month authjorising UN peacekeepers to replace the AU forces. Well I spoke to Hilary Benn a little earlier and asked him first to describe the conditions for people in Darfur

Mr Benn: The conditions in the camps are OK, the huge humanatarian effort in darfur over last 2 years or so means the people are getting food and water I have to say the seucurity sistuion has deteriored compared with last june when I was in El-Fasher and I have been talking to the AU force commander about that. The rebels have been responsible for an increasing proportion of the attacks. The Arab milia are still at work. There are people in the second camp I visited this afternoon who'd fled recently from a town called Shearia where there's disturbances and violence going on as we speak and it really reinforces the point that we have to step up the international effort here in Darfur to protect people while at the same time putting pressure as Jack Straw did last week in Nigeria on those who are talking part in the talks in Abuja because only a political settlement is going to allow the people I spoke to in the camps to ...

BBC interviewer: Going back to the distressing news you bring are you saying the Sudanese government are colluding in that violence?


Further reading:

Feb 2 2006 US, UK move to get UN troops into Darfur

Feb 3 2006 UK sets list of priority actions on Darfur for new Sudanese Government of National Unity

Feb 4 2006 UK offers Sudan gov't 7-Point "Plan for Peace" in Sudan

Feb 13 2006 British PM Blair vows to keep up pressure on aid for Africa

Feb 13 2006 British PM Blair writes "Towards real action in Africa" - AU Standby Force of 20,000 personnel

Feb 13 2006 Britain's top diplomat Straw to attend Darfur peace talks

Feb 14 2006 Britain's top diplomat Jack Straw at Darfur peace talks - Warns of sanctions

Feb 14 2006 AU top mediator hails UK efforts to bring peace in Darfur

Feb 15 2006 TEXT: UK Foreign Secretary's speech to Darfur peace talks

Feb 16 2006 Darfur: Stop the killing, or pay the price warns Britain's Foreign Secretary Jack Straw

Feb 18 2006 Africa A New Agenda - How Africa Can Succeed, by UK Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Jack Straw

Feb 20 2006 UK's Cardinal O'Brien with SCIAF in the Sudan sees hope amid horror of African nightmare

Feb 21 2006 UK urges lifting of Sudan curfew - AU says curfew hinders Darfur peacekeepers

Feb 21 2006 Benn: UK to provide 20 million pounds for African Union mission in Sudan

Feb 28 2006 Tony Blair hails Gaddafi's efforts for Darfur

Jack Straw

Photo: British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, pictured here in January 2006, called on his Sudanese counterpart Lam Akol to accept the deployment of UN peacekeeping troops to help resolve the humanitarian crisis in Darfur. (AFP/POOL/File/Carl De Souza)

Displaced people in Darfur Sudan

Photo: A general view of a Sudanese internally displaced people camp housing over 730 families, December 3,2005. NATO allies would look kindly on new appeals for back-up help to African troops in Darfur, but rule out for now a major deployment of their own, NATO diplomats said on Tuesday. (Reuters/Antony Njuguna/Yahoo News)

See NATO ready to help in Darfur, but not with troops Feb 14 2006 (Reuters).

Tony Blair in Khartoum Sudan

Photo: Sudanese President Omar el-Bashir shakes hands with British Prime Minister Tony Blair at the presidential palace in Khartoum in Sudan, Oct 6, 2004. (AFP/Sudan Watch archive)


Blogger IJ said...

Security, economic and administrative assistance from the international community seem to be priorities for Sudan. The United Nations really need a force that they, a public organisation, can deploy to maintain security and get a region's economy thriving. Sudan on its own possibly has little political pull despite being the largest state in Africa; and belonging to 48 international organisations.

The CIA World Factbook was very helpful.

Sudan's trading partners for exports are China 66.9%, Japan 10.7%, Saudi Arabia 4.4% (2004); and for imports, China 13%, Saudi Arabia 11.5%, UAE 5.9%, Egypt 5.1%, India 4.8%, Germany 4.5%, Australia 4.1%, Japan 4% (2004).

The Factbook also records: "Sudan has turned around a struggling economy with sound economic policies and infrastructure investments, but it still faces formidable economic problems, starting from its low level of per capita output. . . Agriculture production remains Sudan's most important sector, employing 80% of the work force, contributing 39% of GDP, and accounting for most of GDP growth, but most farms remain rain-fed and susceptible to drought. Chronic instability. . . ensure that much of the population will remain at or below the poverty line for years."

Wednesday, February 22, 2006  

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