Minister Kitt calls for continued pressure on Sudanese government regarding humanitarian crisis in Darfur
Speaking at the General Affairs and External Relations Council in Brussels today, Minister Tom Kitt urged the European Union to continue to exert pressure on the Sudanese government in relation to the unfolding humanitarian emergency in Darfur. The Minister noted that, in addition to the pressing humanitarian needs of the displaced population, the issue of security and protection for the people of the region was of central importance.
Briefing the Council on his visit to Sudan from 15 – 17 July, Minister Kitt noted that at his meetings with the Sudanese authorities, he had stressed that the Khartoum government had ultimate responsibility for the population of Darfur.
“I made clear to the Sudanese government that refugee returns had to be on a voluntary basis and that the international community would not tolerate any forced repatriations. The government must make every effort to ensure the security of the civilian population of Darfur. The international community must make clear to Khartoum that there will be a price to be paid for failing to deal with the Janjaweed. We should not flinch from actively considering imposing further restrictive measures, if progress is not achieved,” the Minister said.
Minister Kitt also drew attention to the importance of working closely with the African Union (AU), in particular their ceasefire observer mission. He welcomed the EU contribution of €12 million to the mission, and the agreement by Ministers to offer to send a civilian and military expert team to the region to assess urgently how to further support the AU observer mission.