I just have some comments on the meeting of the Security Council we just had, that gave us the opportunity to listen to the report by Mrs. Catherine Bragg, the Assistant Secretary General for humanitarian affairs.
We are very preoccupied by the humanitarian situation in Darfur following the decision of the Sudanese authorities to expel 13 major NGOs from Sudan. Those 13 NGOs are providing more than half of the global humanitarian aid to the population in Darfur, and the immediate consequences of that decision is that 1 million people are at risk of lacking food, 1.5 million people are at risk of lacking health care, and 1 million people are at risk of lacking water and sanitation. And in some of the camps, as she underlined, especially the camp of Kalma and the camp of Kaas, the resources in water will last only for the next 48 hours - meaning that on Monday there will be no more water in those two camps. The decision will have dramatic effects on the population.
On top of it, what Mrs. Bragg said and will confirm to you, is that the United Nations cannot immediately replace those NGOs, especially because the Sudanese authorities have seized some of the indispensable material that is used by those NGOs to provide and deliver the aid. So the consequences are really terrible.
We are asking the Sudanese authorities to abide by their own commitments. A few days ago they signed an agreement in Doha with the JEM where they committed themselves to help the delivery of assistance and to guarantee free access to humanitarian workers. They are coming back on their own promises, they are not holding their commitments. We are asking them to reverse their decision and to allow those NGOs to stay on the ground.
Of course we are aware of the fact that the answer to the crisis in Darfur lies not only with humanitarian assistance, we are calling on all the actors of the Sudanese crisis, not only the government but also all the rebel groups, to stand firm on their commitment to join the political process.
We also think that, whatever the difficulties right now, the regional reconciliation, between Sudan and Chad in particular, should go on. We also think that everything should be made to preserve the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and to protect the capacity of all parties to go on with this agreement, which is of key importance. And of course we urge the government of Sudan to cooperate with the ICC.
Ambassador, the Sudanese Ambassador was just here a little while ago and said that the NGOs and other organizations that were kicked out of Sudan were not working according to their mandate and some of them were a threat to Sudan’s sovereignty and he accused them of other wrongdoings. Has he presented any such proof to the Security Council?
For the moment, no. And I would also remind you, as Mrs. Bragg did, that there was agreement between the Sudanese government and the NGOs which gives the NGOs one month to make an appeal against any decisions regarding their work in Sudan. They have been expelled; they have to leave the country before Monday night. So the government is not even respecting its own word in its dealings with the NGOs.
On top of that, we think that this argument is irrelevant, inconsistent, at least as long as we haven’t seen any proof of wrongdoing by those NGOs. We want to pay tribute to the humanitarian workers who, for many years now, are committing themselves, at the risk of their own lives sometimes, and we have shown there were casualties, for the well-being of the population in Darfur.
Does France think this violates international humanitarian law or implicates this kind of responsibility to protect?
We certainly think that it is a clear violation of obligations vis-à-vis international humanitarian law and I reminded a few minutes ago my colleagues in the Council that under the French presidency in January we held a session of the Council where everybody in the Security Council committed themselves to promoting international humanitarian law. We have to demonstrate it by showing unity in the Council to denounce this measure and call on the government of Sudan to reverse its decision and to reverse its decision, certainly.
Mr. Ambassador, is the Council going to act in the face of Sudan. concerning the expulsion of these aid agencies ?
I think first of all, to hold this meeting and to send a clear signal that there is unanimity in the Council to express a very serious preoccupation about the decision that has been taken and to call on the government of Sudan to reverse this decision is a very strong signal that has been sent. We are supportive of the demands of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, who himself calls for an immediate reversal of this decision, and we are meeting right now, and I am sure that the president of the Council will confirm when he will get out of this session - that all members express that preoccupation on the humanitarian situation.
Mr. Ambassador, will this unanimity be translated on paper ... ?
The only thing I can say is that as France, we are very much in the favour of that, together for instance with the UK delegation, we are pressing for the Council to adopt formally some kind of declaration. To be honest with you, I am not sure it will be possible, because some countries members of the Council are opposed to any kind of expression by the Council. So there is no unanimity, when you say...
The session is not over. I have taken care to come and talk to you before the end of the session, so no one knows for the moment. I am just saying that the prospect is not as good as previously thought.
Have you drafted a press statement ?
There are some ideas on a piece of paper, which is currently being negotiated but I have, once again, little hope.
Some in JEM said that they do not want to negotiate anymore with a war criminal, President Bashir, do you think JEM should in fact continue the negotiating with President Bashir ?
As I told you, I think it is a wrong move : it is a wrong move by the government of Sudan to act against the NGOs, and it is a wrong move by any kind of rebel group to try and take the opportunity to reduce the chance of getting a political agreement, suddenly, because we think there will be no other solution than a political solution.
Le Conseil de Sécurité a permis à la majorité, sinon à l’ensemble des membres du Conseil d’exprimer leur très grave préoccupation suite à la décision qui a été prise par le gouvernement du Soudan d’expulser les treize principales ONG internationales qui agissent actuellement au Soudan, et comme cela a été rappelé par la Sous-Secrétaire Générale aux Affaires Humanitaires, qui fournissent à elles seules la moitié de l’aide humanitaire au Soudan.
Par cette décision, il y a un risque pour plus d’un million de réfugiés, de personnes déplacées. Un million qui risquent de manquer de nourriture, un million et demi de personnes qui risquent de manquer de soins médicaux et un million de personnes qui risquent de manquer d’eau et de tout ce qui est nécessaire pour assurer l’hygiène dans les camps. Dans certains camps comme celui de Kalma ou celui de Kaas, il y a un risque que les provisions en eau soient épuisées sous quarante-huit heures.
C’est donc une responsabilité très grave qu’a pris le gouvernement du Soudan, en violation de ses propres engagements humanitaires. Nous lui demandons de revenir sur cette décision, de l’annuler et de permettre aux ONG de continuer à travailler. En même temps, nous avons tenu à réaffirmer que bien entendu, au delà de cette crise humanitaire grave, qu’il faut résoudre très vite, il est nécessaire de réaffirmer la pertinence du processus politique, de réaffirmer la nécessité de continuer le rapprochement entre le Soudan et le Tchad, et aussi de conforter le processus de paix nord-sud avec la mise en oeuvre de l’accord global de paix. Merci./.