Dáil debates

Wednesday, 27 September 2006


Foreign Conflicts.

8:00 pm

Photo of Bernard AllenBernard Allen (Cork North Central, Fine Gael)

I am convinced that a UN force for Darfur is needed now and not in two or three month's time. We should immediately strengthen the African Union force while the UN force is being assembled and we should prioritise the delivery of aid to those at risk. Estimates of the casualties from the Darfur conflict which has been raging since early 2003 vary widely.Many non-governmental organisations estimatethat the number of deaths may have alreadyreached 400,000, a figure provided by theCoalition for International Justice. The websitewww.savedarfur.org also estimates that more than 400,000 people have died in Darfur, with up to 2.5 million having been displaced. The crisis does not end there as many more people are at risk of starvation as a result of the ongoing humanitarian disaster in that region. In fact, more than 3 million people are completely reliant on humanitarian aid for survival.

The conflict in Darfur is a blight on our globe and a shame on the civilised world. Death, destruction and mayhem have been visited on the civilian population in the most appalling manner. Ireland and all its partners in the international community who believe in peace and justice must use every possible method to bring about peace in Darfur. On 31 August last, the UN Security Council approved resolution 1706 which called for a new UN peace keeping force for the region. Since then, however, a UN force has not been deployed and the only progress seen in recent weeks has been the extension of the African Union mission in Sudan until the end of this year. While the extension of the mission is a welcome step, this force is not sufficient in the light of what the UN has called for and mandated as part of resolution 1706. That force is the minimum response required in terms of the protection of civilians in Darfur. Much more is needed and a full UN force should be deployed.

The government of Sudan has strongly objected to resolution 1706 and said that it would deem UN forces in the region as foreign invaders. However, the Sudanese government has backed the militia involved in the appalling genocide in Darfur and has been complicit in a campaign of ethnic cleansing for many years.

The international community must continue to press for the deployment of a full UN peace keeping mission for the region. We must press for this with absolute conviction and without wavering on the fundamental need for such a force. The Minister for Foreign Affairs, as represented by the Minister of State, Deputy Conor Lenihan, should take this opportunity to put on the record the diplomatic efforts made by the Irish Government to impress on the Sudanese Government the fact that Ireland supports the deployment of a full UN force in Darfur. Ireland must be to the fore in calling for this force to be dispatched to the region and must use every possible method, including diplomatic, aid and trade channels at European and international level, to ensure that such a force is realised.

Time is not on our side. Each day the conflict continues without international action the casualty list grows even longer. In recent weeks the situation in Darfur has worsened considerably. Incidents of murder, rape and torture are increasing and the situation faced by many in the region, especially the displaced, is increasingly perilous.

The conflict in Darfur must be brought to an end and I wish to see the immediate deployment of the already authorised UN peace keeping force. In addition, the under staffed African Union force already in Darfur must be strengthened until the UN force is deployed. Given the numbers living in grave danger of starvation, the international community must increase humanitarian aid and prioritise the delivery of essential supplies needed by the people.

This is an horrendous situation and a blot on the good name of civilisation. People in this part of the world must rise to the challenge that Darfur poses. The people of the region must not be abandoned just because they are on the African continent.


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