Darfur – A Test We Cannot Afford To Fail

Speaking to the Global Day for Darfur rally taking place in London on 17 September, International Development Secretary Hilary Benn called on all the countries of the world to say with one voice that now is the time for the fighting in Darfur to stop.

Hilary Benn’s Message To The Global Day For Darfur, 17 September 2006

“This Day of Action is a chance for us to remember all of the people who have died; the two million people who tonight once again will be living in camps; the 3 million people who are dependent on the international community for food aid; the lives that have been destroyed; the hopes that have been dashed,” said Mr Benn.

“I have been to the camps, have talked to the people, and know how they yearn for this crisis to be brought to an end.

“And we know that it’s getting worse. That attacks have increased. The African Union troops have been killed. People working for NGOs have been attacked and have lost their lives. We know that it’s getting more difficult in Darfur to reach all of the people who need our help. And the African Union force which has done an extraordinary job in the most difficult circumstances now doesn’t have enough troops or enough money to carry on its work.

“So what do we do?

“The UK has taken its responsibility seriously. We are the second largest donor to the humanitarian relief effort in Darfur. We were the first country in the world to give funding to the African Union Mission.

“We have argued hard and successfully in the United Nations for an international inquiry into what’s gone on, to refer the crimes against humanity and the war crimes to the International Criminal Court, and for sanctions.

“And now we’ve argued for the transfer to a UN mission. We’ve also played a part in helping to negotiate the Darfur Peace Agreement.

“But now is the real test, because things cannot go on as they are.

“This is the moment for the whole of the international community, the African Union, which has led in the fight to solve this problem, the United Nations, Europe, all of the countries of the world, to say with clarity and with one voice – now is the time for the fighting in Darfur to stop.

“Now is the time for the Government of Sudan to agree to allow a UN mission to come in and take over from the African Union Mission.

“Now is the time for all of those movements that have not signed the Darfur Peace Agreement to do so.

“Because this rebellion started with a demand for regional government for the people of Darfur. The Darfur Peace Agreement provides for that, for compensation, for power sharing.

“And I can see no justification whatsoever for this suffering and this fighting to go on for a day longer.

“The truth is, and all of us know it, that what we do about Darfur is a test for every single one of us in the international community and we cannot afford to fail.”

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