We'll call this meeting to order. This is the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development, meeting number 22, Thursday, October 19.
Pursuant to Standing Order 108(2), we gather here to receive a briefing on the crisis in Darfur. In today's news we have reports that violence in Darfur is spreading again. There have been 100 people killed and 3,000 displaced in 10 villages, according to an article this morning. Sudanese Janjaweed militia and Chadian rebels have attacked at least 10 villages in southeast Chad in the past fortnight, killing more than 100 people and displacing more than 3,000 local and UN officials. That's the comment they gave.
The attacks are a spillover of violence from Sudan's western Darfur region, where violence has increased. As the seasonal river courses have dried up after the annual rains, these routes now become passable for rebel jeeps and others as they go throughout the country.
The estimates of death in the Darfur region by some have topped 200,000. Richard Gwyn, the well-known Canadian political affairs writer, points out in an article today that the government in Khartoum has successfully stared down the UN by declaring that it would refuse to accept UN peacekeepers. A lot of things keep going on. The killing goes on and on. Gwyn notes that Sudan's defiance is especially telling. He writes that it's exactly the kind of weak state where the new doctrine of responsibility to protect, which Canada played a lead role in developing, ought to be applied. Gwyn maintains that the outside world and the UN have looked the other way when it comes to Darfur.
For today's briefings on the crisis in Darfur we are very pleased to have with us, from the Canadian International Development Agency, Diane Jacovella, the director general, east, the Horn and southern Africa division; Leslie Norton, acting director general, humanitarian assistance, peace and security, multilateral programs branch; and, Laurent Charette, director of the Malawi program.
Also from the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade we have Janet Graham, director of the Sudan task force; and, Wendy Gilmour, director of the peacekeeping and peace operations group.
We thank you for coming today to appear before us to provide to this foreign affairs and international development committee the latest facts and figures concerning the situation or the crisis in Darfur. This committee will, even though it is a special meeting, wait to hear your presentations.
I'm uncertain as to how many of the five will present. Will all of you be giving a presentation, or how many will be?
Okay, there are two presentations. Usually we try to keep it within a ten-minute testimonial, and then we'll proceed into the first round of questioning, which gives every party seven minutes in the first round and five minutes in following rounds.
We're going to try to leave a little bit of time at the end of the meeting for committee business dealing specifically with a motion that has been on the books and that we talked about yesterday. My intentions for the committee are that we entertain a motion--it has to be by unanimous consent--as to whether or not we will accept that committee business dealing with Madam McDonough.
In the meantime, thank you for coming. We look forward to your testimonial.
Thank you, Mr. Chair. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the committee for inviting officials from the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade and the Canadian International Development Agency to provide further details on, first, the latest developments in Darfur, the current government and projected assistance to the African Union mission in Sudan, as well as any planned contributions to a UN peacekeeping force in Darfur.
Let me begin by saying that we are deeply concerned by the continuing violence and persistent culture of impunity in Darfur, particularly attacks on civilians by all parties to the conflict, and we heard what the chairman read out this morning about the latest attacks.
The Government of Sudan's worrisome military offensive continues with government forces directly engaged in conflict with the National Redemption Front, the NRF rebels, in the northwest vector of northern Darfur near the Chadian border and also in the mountainous region of Jebel Marra.
This statement I'm reading was drafted a few days ago and I said that we'd noticed a slower pace since the beginning of Ramadan in the violence. That's clearly been overtaken by events.
Most recently we have heard of clashes in that same sector, in Um Sidier before Ramadan and since then in Kariari, and interestingly, it's been Government of Sudan troops who have suffered setbacks from their clashes with the rebel groups.
However, Canada continues to urge the Government of Sudan and various warring factions in Darfur to bring about an immediate end to the hostilities and to stop the fighting as there can be no military solution for the crisis in Darfur. We have heard the Prime Minister express strong concern for the situation in Darfur in both his statements at the United Nations General Assembly and at the Francophonie Summit in Bucharest.
We must now work urgently to achieve “buy in ” from rebel groups who did not sign on to the DPA to get back to the critical need to move forward with implementation of this peace agreement. Implementation of the DPA and an early transition to a UN-led force are important steps forward towards ending the suffering of the people of Darfur.
Canada has provided important diplomatic, financial, and expert support to the African Union throughout the peace process in Abuja, Nigeria, that led to the signing of the Darfur peace agreement between the Government of Sudan and the rebel group led by SLM leader, Mini Menawi. We worked closely with the African Union, the European Union, Britain, and the United States to broker an agreement during the final days of these negotiations. Canada was a signatory witness to the DPA.
Current reports of an increase in rape and other sexual and gender-based violence in Darfur is deeply disturbing. Canada was a leader in championing the inclusion of women in the peace talks, and we provided support to the AU to integrate gender concerns into the peace agreement.
As I noted, we need to secure an early and full implementation of the Darfur peace agreement. We are working with our international partners to find a way to bring non-signatories on board. There are a number of tracks in progress right now to do that. Canada stands ready to do our part, with resources earmarked from the global peace and security fund to support the DPA implementation team, as well as the Darfur-Darfur dialogue and consultation process, which I will speak to in a moment.
The pursuit of peace in Darfur and the whole of Sudan is a complex and challenging commitment. Canada makes a strong effort to address root causes, rather than symptoms, with the awareness that at the heart of most of Sudan's conflicts are the great disparities in wealth and power between Khartoum and the Sudan's vast regions to the south, east, and west. Much of Sudan's national wealth, and the power to control it, has a tendency to remain in Khartoum without being redistributed to the country's underdeveloped rural regions. This is why all the agreements, by the way, include wealth and power-sharing components.
The affect of this imbalance extends beyond Sudan's border to neighbouring countries, and it threatens the security of the region. Instability in Darfur spills into Chad, and it rebounds back and forth. Ongoing violence continues to destabilize the security situation, particularly along the Chadian border, as well as the border with the Central African Republic.
We see that the same dangers of almost twenty years of ongoing violence perpetrated by the Lord's Resistance Army in northern Uganda has seriously affected the security situation in southern Sudan. There's a recent report in the media this morning about another one. Civil war in Sudan has provided a safe haven for the LRA, allowing conflict to drag on. The situation is improving despite the reports of violence since the beginning of the peace talks in Juba.
Canada has been strongly involved in the international effort to prevent the escalation and instability within the region and to improve the humanitarian situation in Sudan. The Minister of Foreign Affairs recently returned from the UN, where Darfur was discussed at length and where the minister personally sought out the Sudanese Foreign Minister Lam Akol to advocate that the Government of Sudan allow a UN force into Darfur.
As you know, Canada is a significant donor in support of the African Union Mission in Sudan, having provided $190 million since the mission's inception in 2004. The presence of the African Union Mission in Darfur has made a difference for the protection of civilians, and it has facilitated access for the delivery of central humanitarian assistance. I'll talk a little later about the critical support we are providing.
Support for peace operations in Darfur is only one part of Canada's efforts toward the stabilization and reconstruction of the region. In a complementary process, Canada also provides important funding for community-based peace-building initiatives. The Department of Foreign Affairs has established a global peace and security fund to plan and deliver effective conflict prevention, crisis response, civilian protection, and stabilization initiatives in fragile states. Through the Sudan peace-building envelope of this fund, we are supporting a variety of initiatives aimed at promoting peace and security throughout all of Sudan, including Darfur.
As the Prime Minister recently noted at the Francophonie Summit, Canada wants to promote the reform of the justice system, the rebuilding of a security system, a reduction in the traffic in arms and the reinforcement of the institutions of government and community life in Darfur and throughout the whole of Sudan.
Currently this fiscal year, we are committing approximately $13 million focused principally in these areas.
For example, as part of our whole of Sudan strategy, DFAIT is currently providing one million dollars for a baseline assessment of the scale and distribution of small arms and the patterns and frequency of arms misuse and victimization in western, southern and eastern Sudan, including Darfur.
The widespread proliferation and misuse of small arms and light weapons in Sudan is a major contributor to human insecurity.
This is the second phase of an ongoing project whose goal is to support the implementation of both the CPA and the DPA, as they both include ceasefire arrangements and arms reduction measures.
It is through the same fund that DFAIT has been able to extend our deployment of Canadian civilian experts in support of the African Union Mission, AMIS. Currently six Canadian civilian police expert advisers assist AMIS in the Darfur region. These advisers provide important training in human rights and policing to the AU Mission, while also advising the police chain of command in all aspects of policing.
To get back to what we're doing in terms of other support to the African Union Mission, we are and continue to be one of the most significant donors to this mission. Since 2004, Canada has been providing essential airlift support to AMIS. We've increased this support. To date, Canada has provided AMIS with 25 leased helicopters, two fixed-wing aircraft, and fuel to fly them. This essential airlift, combined with the loan of 105 armoured personnel vehicles, forms the backbone of the African Union Mission in Darfur. Without the support, AMIS would be severely crippled.
The 105 armoured personnel carriers and the subsequent training of AU personnel by the Canadian Forces carried out at the CF training centre established in Dakar, Senegal, have enhanced the AU's capacity to monitor and control the situation on the ground. We have provided maps and personnel equipment, such as helmets and protective vests. Also, at the request of the African Union, Canada has provided 12 expert military advisers who are currently assisting the AU with planning and logistics. This is all part of a comprehensive support package to the African Union that is valued at $190 million.
In the meantime, we welcome the African Union Peace and Security Council's decision to strengthen the AMIS and extend its mandate until the end of this year, in an effort to continue to provide important protection for civilians in Darfur and prevent a devastating security vacuum on the ground. Pending a UN mission, it is important that the international community continue to support an enhanced African Union mission during this period of transition.
We look forward to continuing to work with the African Union and to ensure the most robust and effective use of available resources. We welcome short- and long-term plans of the UN to strengthen AMIS in preparation for a transition to a UN force.
Canada welcomed the UN's recent announcement, following Security Council Resolution 1706, that it would work to support the enhancement of AMIS as a first step toward full transition. Moreover, we are strongly encouraged by the letter from Sudanese President Bashir to the UN Secretary General and the chairman of the AU Commission, Alpha Oumar Konaré, accepting the UN's proposed assistance to the African Union Mission in Sudan.
Canadian and international efforts continue to focus on contacting key African and Arab leaders who may have influence upon the Government of Sudan to urge transition.
While at the UN, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade met with his counterparts—foreign ministers from Algeria, Egypt and Senegal as well as the Secretary General of the Arab League—to urge them to use their influence to press the Government of Sudan to accept transition to a UN-led mission in Darfur.
We are part of a wider international effort in this regard and are not alone in our lobbying. Our allies are very much of one mind on our objective.
There are significant efficiencies to be gained, including a broader pool of material and human resources, stable funding, and decades of experience with a UN force. The UN is already on the ground in the south of Sudan and is coordinating humanitarian efforts in Darfur. Transition in Darfur will provide benefits of economies of scale and a unified command and control structure.
The Secretary General has recently stated that the composition of the proposed UN force will inevitably be African in character. That is, the vast majority of troops will be rehatted from the AU Mission, with added support from Arab and Asian troop-contributing countries.
We will continue to work closely with both the African Union and the United Nations to provide the necessary support to succeed in the transition process, as well as to provide support for not only peace operations but peace-building, humanitarian, and long-term reconstruction efforts as well.
Planning has been under way for some time within the Department of Peacekeeping Operations—the UN's secretariat for UN peacekeeping operations—to deploy a force that will assume responsibility for the AMIS area of operation in Darfur. Canada, along with other donor nations and AU member states, has been a key partner in this process.
UNDPKO has issued initial requests to troop-contributing countries for forces, but as mentioned above, the bulk of the force is expected to be drawn from African countries, not countries like Canada. But this is not to say we will not be playing a key role. Canada stands ready to consider UN requests for the specialists who will be key to the UN forces' effectiveness. These could include key staff positions, logistical and technical specialists, and other expertise, whether they be military, police, or civilian personnel.
Canada will also be one of the principal financial supporters of this mission through our UN peacekeeping assessed contributions, providing approximately $42 million toward the expanded UN mission in Sudan that would include the region of Darfur. The UN estimate for the total cost is $1.5 billion.
As honourable members present realize, even if the UN were to call for a large-contingent deployment from western countries, Canada would not be in a position to do so given our current commitments in Afghanistan and the ongoing effort to train new recruits, a process that is critical to the long-term future of the Canadian Forces and Canada's ability to continue to play a leadership role in international affairs in years to come. However, what is most important right now is ensuring the effectiveness of the current AU mission on the ground and establishing the conditions necessary to ensure an effective transition to a UN mission.
Mr. Chairman, ladies and gentlemen, I would like to start by thanking the committee for inviting the Canadian International Development Agency and Foreign Affairs here today.
This is my first appearance before this committee. It is a privilege to be able to address you and to discuss the complexity of Sudan's development and humanitarian assistance challenges.
As you well know, Sudan's humanitarian situation remains an alarming one. Canada has adopted a whole-of-government approach to bring relief to the people of Sudan to ease human suffering, while working in cooperation with its Canadian and international partners. Darfur lies at the heart of this crisis. However, we execute projects, not only in Darfur, but throughout Sudan, to support the country's sustainable development.
The conflict in Darfur is still causing instability and thus resulting in more and more humanitarian needs. Despite the signing of the Darfur Peace Agreement, security conditions keep deteriorating and Arab militias (the Janjaweed) and Sudanese Forces continue to fight, particularly in Northern Darfur, as Mr. Chairman so eloquently noted this morning.
From the humanitarian perspective, over 1.8 million people are internally displaced in Darfur, and currently 3 million require food assistance for survival. Even though the comprehensive peace agreement put an end to the hostilities between the North and South of Sudan, after a long civil war, the humanitarian situation throughout Sudan remains challenging. The population continues to need assistance to meet its basic needs and to be able to begin rebuilding homes and re-establishing communities.
More than one million internally displaced persons and refugee returnees have returned to communities with little or no infrastructure or basic services in place. We risk losing the progress made in the peace process if we do not continue to support these vulnerable populations.
Since April 2005, Canada pledged a total of $110 million for humanitarian assistance, reconstruction, and rehabilitation in Sudan. Of that amount, $60 million is specifically for humanitarian assistance.
These funds assist organizations, such as Canadian NGOs, the International Committee of the Red Cross, and the United Nations, to provide support in the areas of civilian protection, health and basic services, water and sanitation, and food aid.
I would like to highlight the excellent work being done through our network of Canadian and international partners. They continue to apply their know-how and acute comprehension of the complex issues in Sudan in an effective manner, even within the unstable and hostile environments they face on a daily basis.
Security and access remain key impediments to delivering assistance. CIDA regularly conducts field missions to ensure our initiatives with the international community are well coordinated and performing as they should be.
Within the perils and instability that now define this country, positive results have emerged. For instance, the World Food Programme operations in Sudan are expected to feed an estimated 6.1 million people in 2006. Canada is providing support to those operations.
Of particular note, in April of this year, the World Food Programme announced that funding shortages had forced it to institute half rations in Darfur camps. The immediate response of Canada and the U.S. allowed it to reverse this decision. In early May, as you know, Canada provided $10 million for this purpose.
CIDA supports Canadian NGOs, such as Oxfam Québec and World Vision Canada, and is contributing to provide access to clean water and proper hygiene facilities for an estimated 116,000 people in Darfur. Our ongoing support to a Canadian Red Cross Society project in Darfur is ensuring access to primary health care for up to 25,000 internally displaced persons and residents of the host community. Thus, even within the unstable environment, some basic human needs are being met.
In order to ensure the long-term sustainability of the country as a whole, rehabilitation reconstruction efforts are being made throughout Sudan.
For instance, CIDA is supporting the 2005 comprehensive peace agreement between the north and the south of Sudan.
Canada and the international donor community have supported reconstruction rehabilitation results. For instance, in the health sector, 840 medical kits have been delivered to health facilities located mostly in the south of Sudan. In the educational sector, 20,000 educational kits were provided to teachers, while primary schools were provided with 950,000 textbooks. Over 150,000 kilometres of important roads in Sudan have been de-mined, thus allowing safer road transport.
These results illustrate how Canada, in collaboration with our partners, is making a difference in Sudan.
In conclusion, although some progress has been made, renewed fighting and impeded humanitarian access in Darfur underscore the challenges of working in a fragile context.
CIDA is contributing to Canada's whole-of-government approach in its efforts to reduce the vulnerability of crisis-affected populations and to restore the capacity of public institutions in civil society.
CIDA continues to balance support for the life-saving and early recovery needs of displaced populations with long-term rehabilitation and reconstruction activities that can promote the conditions for sustainable development in all of Sudan.
Thank you very much, all of you, for being here. It's such a difficult file and I don't envy you, but we're all here struggling to try to alleviate the trauma that has been inflicted upon the Sudanese people.
Flying down the White Nile, all we see is the opportunity for there not to be real food program needs in the future, and I hope that comes to pass. I think we're at a fork in the road, whether we choose to pursue blind-ended negotiations that will go nowhere or whether we choose a course of action that is actually going to save lives.
In my experience in dealing with the Sudanese government, which I think is the longest-serving genocidal regime in the world, a group, quite frankly, of pathological liars, I believe that if you look at their experience and activities in the Nuba Mountains and in the south, all you will see is a political tack that they have pursued, which was to lead the international communities down a series of blind alleys that enabled them to continue the genocide that was occurring.
So I have one plea. There's a project in the United States called the Sudan Alien Project--which I'll share with you later--that will help to limit the extension of the conflict into Chad and CAR. I can give that to you later.
My questions, though, are really these. If Jan Egeland is correct and the only way to stop the genocide is for a chapter 7 Security Council resolution to be implemented, where are the troops that you're speaking about coming from and how many have been stood up so far? Because time is running out, this will obviously have to be implemented in January.
My next question is, how are you going to get those troops in there if Khartoum has explicitly said it will not allow UN troops to get onto Sudan's soil? Are you willing to advocate--because I think we have to--and say we're going in with a group of other countries, we're going to implement that Security Council resolution, and we're going to stop the genocide and we're going to stop it now?
You've touched on quite a number of points. I just want to say at the outset that it's a terrible situation. Everybody agrees with that. It's taking place in one of the most remote parts of the world in a country with a history of treating its own people terribly. The international community is struggling to deal with this issue through the multilateral process we've agreed to follow.
There is considerable diplomatic work. The Minister of Foreign Affairs has been in touch with his counterparts in Russia and China to ask them to put pressure on the Government of Sudan as members of the Security Council. He has also made direct appeals to counterparts in North Africa and in Muslim countries to do the same.
At our ambassadorial level throughout Africa, the Middle East, China, and Russia, we have made those diplomatic démarches to request the kind of pressure from countries that could have an influence on the Government of Sudan so it might listen to them.
Not only Canada is doing that; Canada is a member of the contact group. Countries that are doing more than any others to assist the African Union Mission and provide assistance in Sudan, humanitarian and otherwise, are the United States, the U.K., the Netherlands, Norway, France, and the European Union. We work very closely together. I speak with my counterparts on a weekly basis to coordinate the kinds of diplomatic initiatives we can undertake to push this forward.
We are also working collectively to get the Darfur peace agreement back on track through bringing in non-signatories, because it is the only peace agreement we have. It's stalled because of the violence, but also because there are non-signatories. So it's absolutely essential that the Government of Sudan does not have another pretext to keep fighting. That's an important part of the aspect that we're trying to address.
There are sanctions, but they are targeted against individuals. If Canada and other countries do not see progress, we'll call on the Security Council to take measures that are within its purview, and sanctions are certainly part of that package. Whether it's targeted sanctions against the Government of Sudan or whether it includes no-fly zones, there's a whole range of sanctions or measures that can put pressure on the Government of Sudan to move forward on this.
It is also part of the process to call on the Government of Sudan to hold it accountable for what it's doing. The International Criminal Court, with financial support from Canada, has investigations on war crimes in Sudan, and that is also part of the process.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, and thank you to our witnesses for appearing today on what has to be one of the most distressing and alarming tragedies unfolding before our very eyes. I'm sure you must feel this each and every day, all day long, and probably have nightmares about the sorts of genocide in slow motion that just continues to roll out.
That said, I'm very, very encouraged by several parts of your presentation today, not for a moment to indicate--and I don't think anybody would--that we should have anything but a desperate sense of urgency about the situation that's unfolding, but I'm glad to hear you stressing the importance of working through multilateral channels, through international bodies. I think when we sometimes depart from that, we get into misadventures, and we see what happens in Iraq and in Kandahar. There was also your emphasis on peace-building, creating the conditions that are capable of really leading to genuine human security and genuine enduring peace, because this is so often lost in the desperate sense that people have for military intervention.
Maybe it's not a welcome comment, but I have to say, I think we're not doing very well on the women, peace, and security front, either here in Canada or across the world, and it's very reassuring to see women in very senior roles working together--no insult intended whatsoever to the male member of the panel.
I'm thinking about people around this table on the committee and people who are here representing groups--STAND, SHOUT, Students For Darfur, the Canadian Jewish Congress, and various organizations--who have been desperately pleading for a more robust response from Canada.
I'd really like to ask two questions. First, could you be a bit more specific and a bit more explicit around the kind of comprehensive peace-building, confidence-building work that you see as being so important and that Canada has been engaged in?
Secondly, really following up--and I'm not coordinating my question with Mr. Goldring, but he raised questions about stretching the troops' resources to the limits and our military capabilities--I'd like to know whether we have sufficiently today within Foreign Affairs and within CIDA the robustness we need in the diplomatic forces, in the diplomatic strength, expertise, and confidence, both in terms of numbers and in terms of expertise that is desperately needed to be able to bring this to a peaceful resolution, which may or may not be possible without there being a more robust security element. Do we have enough of that human resource to play the kind of role that is perhaps even more promising for enduring peace?