Position and Response of the African Union on the Darfur Crisis as being Genocide

NATIONAL ASSEMBLY

FOR ORAL REPLY

QUESTION NO 99

QUESTION TIME: 3 NOVEMBER 2004

MR KO BAPELA (ANC) TO ASK THE MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS:

(1) Whether the position of the United States on the Darfur crisis as being genocide has been officially communicated to the African Union; if so, what was the AU' response in this regard;

(2) Whether the response of Egypt, Libya and Sudan in this regard is compatible with that of the AU; if not, why not; if so, how and why?
N1313E

REPLY:

1. The United States Senate during its 108th Congress declared on 13 July 2004 "that the atrocities unfolding in Darfur, Sudan, are genocide". Despite this stance retained by the United States, no other country or international organisation has classified the crisis in Darfur, Sudan in the same category.

It should be stressed that the humanitarian situation in Darfur is precarious and one should not make light of the dire circumstances that the people in that region are experiencing. This factor is highlighted by the African Union (and supported by South Africa) in its Communiqué at the launching of the 10th Meeting of the Peace and Security Council on 25 May 2004 when that body reiterated "its concern over the prevailing situation in Darfur, particularly the continuing humanitarian crisis and the reported human rights violations committed in the region since the beginning of the crisis".

However, to label the crisis something that it is not will only add fuel to an already volatile situation. The United Nations for example, has classified the situation in Darfur as "the world's worst humanitarian crisis" while the African Union - the only institution that presently has a permanent Observer Mission in Darfur - stated through the Peace and Security Council (25 May 2004) that it continued to be concerned about the prevailing situation in Darfur, "particularly the continued humanitarian crisis and the reported human rights violations". The present chair of the African Union's PSC (Cameroon) placed issues in perspective when he stated earlier this month that, "abuses are taking place. There is mass suffering, but it is not genocide".

The fact that the Government of Sudan has facilitated assistance (through such channels as the granting of visas and in some cases protection) to various members of civil society organisation - as reflected by the fact that there are presently 6 000 aid workers operating in Darfur (as opposed to less than 30 in 2003) - hardly reflects the actions of a country practising genocide. The fact that the President of the highly respected humanitarian organisation 'Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), Dr Jean-Herve Brado recently stated that the term genocide was inappropriate, places a more comprehensive and realistic perspective on the present humanitarian crisis in Darfur.

2. Countries within the North African Region such as Egypt and Libya have a direct interest in developments in the Sudan. These collective interests are expanded upon within the forum that the African Union provides. Compliance with the multilateral objectives of the AU is met through discussion and negotiation with agreement by all parties being the ultimate objective. The fact that Sudan has recently approached the African Union to send additional Peacekeepers to Darfur reflects the credibility and objectivity of the institution as well as the trust African countries have in their own institutions.

END





 

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