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International community must assist political resolution of Darfur conflict

28 November, 2006

Sinn Féin Human Rights and International Affairs spokesperson Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD has expressed Sinn Féin's support for an all party motion for peace in Darfur. Speaking in the Dáil this evening Deputy Ó Snodaigh commended the work done in the region by the African Union and called for this work to continue and be built upon.

He said, "Almost two years ago at our annual Ard Fheis the Sinn Féin membership debated and passed 3 important motions on Darfur. At that time we called on this government and on the British government to act urgently in support of the region's people. Today's motion is in keeping with the content of our own earlier motions.

"To a certain extent Darfur has been one of the most forgotten conflicts of recent times. The huge political and media interest on the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan pushed the situation in Darfur to the margins. However, there has been tremendous loss of life in Sudan with at least 30,000 deaths, more than one million internally displaced peoples and more than 200,000 refugees in neighbouring Chad. Attacks upon humanitarian workers have ensured that their work has ground to a halt in many areas thus ensuring that the civilian population continue to suffer.

"The Darfur Peace Agreement outlaws the recruitment and use of children by rebel forces however the Agreement has had little effect because many of the rebel groups are not signed up to it. The motion before us recognises this shortcoming and welcomes efforts to bring non-signatories on board. The importance of these efforts must not be under-estimated.

"While backing today's motion which condemns the appalling security, humanitarian and human rights situation, calls for all parties to immediately halt the violence and ensure the unhindered delivery of humanitarian aid and calls on the Sudanese government to consent to a UN mission - I also want to commend the work that has taken place thus far particularly by the African Union. It is essential that this work is continued and built upon and bolstered by the UN.

"Ultimately while much of the focus of the motion is on security and this is crucial, in the immediate term particularly, there is also a real need for the international community to also focus on assisting the political resolution of the conflict. This is crucial if a sustainable peace is to be built. Every appropriate effort should be made to realise the powersharing provisions of the Darfur Peace Agreement in a meaningful way." ENDS

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