On 29th July 2014, the Bishop of St Albans, the Rt Revd Alan Smith, received an answer to a written question on humanitarian assistance in South Sudan.
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: To ask Her Majesty’s Government how they are supporting the role of churches and other civil society groups in the peace and reconciliation process in South Sudan, and in the delivery of humanitarian assistance.
Baroness Northover: The UK is one of six donors funding the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Community Security and Arms Control (CSAC) Project, which includes provision of technical support for national and community-level community reconciliation process, including working with faith-based partners. Furthermore, under the Africa Conflict Pool Programmes, the UK is funding civil society organisations to build the capacity of local populations to identify and resolve conflicts that affect them.
Through the Common Humanitarian Fund (CHF), the UK has supported work by national civil society to provide health, education, food security and livelihood, water and sanitation and mine awareness services for the most vulnerable. In addition, some United Nations agencies supported by the UK (such as the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP)) work in close collaboration with local partners. To improve basic services the UK funded Girls Education South Sudan (GESS) project is working through Episcopal Church of Sudan (ECS) in two of South Sudan’s 10 States, and the UK-led Health Pooled Fund (HPF) will support faith-based county hospitals as well as government ones.
On 28th July 2014, Conservative Peer Baroness Hodgson of Abinger asked Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to ensure that any future peace settlement in South Sudan is inclusive. The Bishop of St Albans, the Rt Revd Alan Smith, asked a supplementary question:
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, it is evident that the long-term process of finding an inclusive Sudanese-led reconciliation can begin only once hostilities cease and a political settlement and resolution is reached. This is why international diplomacy is so vital. Will the noble Lord tell the House what plans the Government have to address the current understaffing of the UK Sudan unit, which has a role in this?
Lord Wallace of Saltaire: My Lords, the number of staff in the UK Sudan unit has fluctuated over the past few months; my understanding is that it is now rather larger than it was two or three months ago. I do not think that we can wait until the fighting stops to begin negotiations; local fighting is likely to continue for some considerable time and we have to start to move to construct at least the basis of some form of government now.
On 8th July 2014, Labour Peer Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead asked Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the concerns expressed by the Disasters Emergency Committee over the prospect of famine in South Sudan. The Bishop of St Albans, the Rt Revd Alan Smith asked a supplementary question.
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, the situation is dire. As well as the 4 million people in need of humanitarian aid, more than 10,000 people have already been killed and 1.4 million people have been displaced. When we are facing such terrible problems it is important not to underestimate the role played by various agencies already on the ground, including many Anglican and ecumenical agencies working with the Anglican Alliance. Indeed, Archbishop Daniel Deng has been a leader in the efforts to bring peace. How can Her Majesty’s Government support the churches working on the ground in their humanitarian and peace efforts and in delivering aid?
Baroness Northover: I too pay tribute to those who are working in these extremely difficult circumstances. The right reverend Prelate will know that the United Kingdom is a leading donor. We are meeting about 7.5% of the total appeal at the moment and working to support all the agencies that are managing to get in. We do not underestimate the difficulties.
On July 7th 2014, the Bishop of Worcester, the Rt Revd John Inge, received an answer to a written question on South Sudan.
The Lord Bishop of Worcester: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the prevalence of sexual violence in the conflict in South Sudan; whether they are planning to deploy suitable experts from the Stabilisation Unit to strengthen and support efforts in South Sudan to respond; and, if so, when.
The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi) (Con): We are deeply concerned by reports of human rights violations and abuses in South Sudan, including the widespread use of sexual violence. We fully support the work of the Africa Union Commission of Inquiry and echo the call in the recent UN Human Rights Council resolution for thorough and genuine investigations into all human rights violations and abuses and for the perpetrators to be brought to justice.
The UK is funding a project with non-governmental organisation Non Violent Peaceforce to establish women’s protection teams in Northern Bahr El Ghazal. This project aims to tackle sexual violence in communities affected by insecurity around the border with Sudan by establishing and training women’s peacekeeping teams to work within communities. We continue to raise the issue of human rights, and of sexual violence specifically, with South Sudanese Ministers. The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my hon. Friend the Member for Boston and Skegness (Mr Simmonds), discussed the issue with the Foreign Minister of South Sudan at the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict on 11 June. Our Ambassador also raises these issues regularly with the Government of South Sudan.
There are currently no plans to send additional experts from the Stabilisation Unit to South Sudan. However, we keep all such plans under constant review.
On 2nd July 2014, the Bishop of Worcester, the Rt Revd John Inge, received answers to three written questions on South Sudan.
The Lord Bishop of Worcester: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what support they are offering members of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development to stop small arms entering South Sudan.
The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi) (Con): The members of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) have played an important role in the mediation efforts and have consistently called for both parties to respect the cessation of hostilities to solve the ongoing crisis in South Sudan and commit fully to the mediation process. Although South Sudan is not subject to an UN Arms Embargo, we have been clear that the actions of its neighbours should not in any way exacerbate the conflict. South Sudan has been subject to an EU Arms Embargo since its independence. Continue reading “Bishop of Worcester asks about protection of civilians in South Sudan (Written Questions)”
Updated: The Archbishop of Canterbury asked three written questions of Government, on conflict in the Central African Republic and on sexual violence and war crimes in South Sudan. They were responded to on 10th and 11th March 2014 by the Foreign Office Senior Minister of State, Baroness Warsi. The questions and their replies are below.
Central African Republic
The Archbishop of Canterbury: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to support the stabilisation of the conflict in the Central African Republic, particularly in ensuring that sectarian violence does not develop into inter-religious conflict.
The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi) (Con): We are greatly concerned by the situation on the ground in the Central African Republic (CAR). The UK provided £15 million to the humanitarian appeal and a further £2million to the African Union to cover some of the African-led International Support Mission to CAR (MISCA)’s operation. Continue reading “Archbishop of Canterbury Raises Concern About Conflict in Central African Republic, South Sudan”
On 7th November 2013, Baroness Cox led a short debate on what assessment Her Majesty’s Government have made of the situation in Sudan, and the implications for citizens of the Republic of South Sudan. The Bishop of Guildford, the Rt Revd Christopher Hill, took part in the debate.
The Lord Bishop of Guildford: My Lords, I completely endorse what has been said so far in this discussion. I want to raise a rather different point, but equally I want to express my distress—and, indeed, my shared anger—about the humanitarian, agrarian and political disaster about which we have been speaking.
My rather different point is a question about the implications of further destabilisation of Sudan for the country’s international neighbours. I think that that is an important point. I visit Nigeria regularly, and I am due to fly out to Abuja on Sunday. Four years ago, I was able to go to the province of Maiduguri up in the north-east. I cannot go there now, at the moment anyway, because of the political situation. Maiduguri is a long, long way from Sudan—many miles away. Nevertheless, I believe that there is a connection. Continue reading “Bishop of Guildford warns of further destabilisation if situations in Sudan and South Sudan are not resolved”