Dear Excellences, Colleagues and Partners,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am glad to be here today to celebrate and reflect on the achievements of the Darfur Internal Dialogue and Consultation (DIDC) process. The process has been supported by the European Union with a contribution of EUR 800,000. The process has witnessed good collaboration between partners gathered here today and I wish to thank all for this joint work.
The main purpose of the process has of course been to offer a platform for the citizens of Darfur to have their voices heard. We are all aware what the people of Darfur have gone through and to a certain extent are still going through. We must and we have listened to them.
An extensive report will be prepared to reflect these consultations. The European Union supports all efforts that will ensure that the findings of this report are used constructively and actively by those entrusted to do so. One thing is to be heard – another thing is to see that your views have been respected, and acted upon. This is the case in Darfur as well as in the EU.
There are some tough and hard nuts still to crack in Darfur – this is beyond doubt. The EU believes that these issues can and must be tackled - through dialogue, consultation, outreach and compromise. This is the spirit of democracy. And this is a spirit which has proven itself to work time and again when all parties are committed, and allowed to take part on an equal footing. And it is the spirit that has guided the DIDC process thus far and I am sure it will continue to be the case in the future.
Hence, our very strong request and proposal to make sure that the outputs and the results of these locality-level consultations are heard, and become part of the wider and higher political peace talks on Darfur.
As is hopefully appreciated, the EU is committed to sustainable development and peace in Darfur. Indeed, the EU is convinced that we cannot have one without the other. We support all efforts aiming at a sustainable cessation of hostilities on the basis of the road map defined by the African Union High Implementation Panel. The current portfolio of the EU and EU Member States support to Darfur is significant. Today, the total engagement from EU institutions for peace and development in Darfur is circa EUR 35 million. Our support is aligned with the Darfur Development Strategy. The EU focuses on peacebuilding, rural development, management of natural resources, as well as health and education.
The EU also reaches out to support Sudanese Civil Society Organisations. A major challenge for all EU actors and our partners is the issue of access. We have seen some positive developments in this regard in 2017. However, as recalled recently by the European Commissioner for Humanitarian Assistance, Christos Stylianides, when he visited Sudan last week on October 22nd and 23rd unhampered access is critical for our efforts to reach and support the vulnerable populations in Sudan; and in Darfur in particular.
The EU of course also supports the hybrid United Nations / African Union peace keeping force UNAMID. UNAMID is a major factor in securing the region, policing as well as supporting and promoting dialogue. The EU strongly supports a continued presence of UNAMID in Darfur. We have taken note of the recent decision by the EUN Security Council to reduce the scope of the force. We trust that due action is taken by all necessary parties to ensure that this reduction does not have adverse effects for the people of Darfur. The best possible cooperation between UNAMID and the government is needed. The EU is keen to see the mandate of UNAMID fulfilled; especially as regards a political agreement, and the protection of civilians. We need to see progress in these areas in order to proceed with an exit strategy discussion.
More than two million Darfuris 2.6 are still internally displaced, including at least 97,000 displaced and verified in 2016 and 8000 new ones in 2017, which is clearly less than in 2016. For the EU it is vital that return or local integration of the displaced people, are carried out on a voluntary, informed and dignified basis, and in a conducive environment. An impartial, credible and participatory intention survey has to be conducted.
The EU is a strong partner for the Darfur Development Strategy and the DDPD. In accordance with our commitments to the DDS and the DDPD, the EU is eager to see a change in our involvement in the region from one focusing primarily on vital humanitarian assistance to longer term sustainable development. Indeed, Sudan is now a pilot country for the EU as regards operationalising the humanitarian-development nexus; and Darfur is one of our target regions for this. However, conditions for what many see as a transition, although this can be discussed, are yet to be met. There is still a need for humanitarian assistance as new refugees have been arriving and are in dire need. In this regard, we must take into account the changing conditions. Many displaced people in Darfur have been in the camps since 2003, 2004. Many were born in the camp. Many have known different ways of living. The climate change is a reality. Demographic pressure is there. If the right to return is to be respected, we also know that many of the displaced people will not return to their villages. That is why we are considering new programmes focusing on the creation of job opportunities for the displaced people in urban dwellings around the big cities in Darfur.
The underlying causes of conflict in Darfur remain. Questions relating to land tenure, integrated natural resource management, the proliferation of weapons, the role of the State in particular as far as police and judiciary are concerned, the establishment of the rule of law, consultation and representation remain work in progress at best, or to some extent remain largely unaddressed.
In order to seek to achieve development in Darfur, there must be peace and stability. In addition, increased allocations from the federal budget to the States of Darfur for key sectors such as education, health and agriculture are also vital. Stability and federal funds will be real catalysts for increased support from EU and other Development Partners and the private sector for increased support and investments. We as EU will support all efforts to improve the coordination between partners.
The EU has taken note of the decision to dissolve the Darfur Regional Authority. We are very interested to understand better the arrangement for the post-DRA structures for implementation of the DDPD and the DDS that can ensure a continued focus on and targeted support to Darfur.
Last but not least, migration is an important element of our engagement with the Government of Sudan. There are considerable flows of cross border migrants emanating from or passing through Darfur. The EU is seeking to work with the GoS on this issue, in particular with the Sudanese Migration Coordination Mechanism, which is yet to be fully constituted. This work will be carried out in full respect of International Conventions and Human Rights, and in accordance with the robust EU accountability mechanisms. Our support, as is the case for all our work in Sudan, will be channelled via relevant UN organisations, EU Member State Agencies and Non-Government Organisations in close coordination with the Sudanese government.
30 October 2017