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Sudan: Hope for people hit by Darfur conflict

Stephen O'Brien travelled to Darfur to see how UK aid is helping to bring security and justice to the region

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

A glimmer of hope is emerging for the people of Darfur following years of conflict and poverty, Stephen O’Brien said today at the end of a four day visit to Sudan.

The Development Minister travelled to Darfur to see firsthand the challenges in the region and how UK aid is helping to address these. He was heartened by the recent progress in the peace process, but was clear real peace would only be achieved if the Government delivered on its promises. He welcomed the work UNAMID - the joint UN and AU Mission in Darfur - were doing to support peace across the five states.  

Visiting the Abu Shouk settlement, the Minister saw how the UK is helping young children, who have never known life beyond its boundaries, access food and water. He also visited the UK-funded Golo Reservoir project, which provides a safe water source to the people of El Fasher.

Speaking at the end of the Darfur visit, Stephen O’Brien said:

“For the first time in many years we can see small glimmers of hope appearing for the people of Darfur.

“While I was able to see for myself the daily struggle that people in Abu Shouk face, and hear from community leaders that want to return home but do not feel that it is safe to do so, I also met with representatives of the Darfur Regional Authority and State Government and came away encouraged by their responses to the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur. They must now deliver real benefits for the people of Darfur, to enable the region to move from humanitarian emergency to becoming a place for development.

“I also took the opportunity to visit the wonderfully tended Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery in Khartoum to lay a wreath in honour of all those Commonwealth servicemen who gave their lives in Sudan so far from home.” 

On returning to Khartoum the Minister held discussions with senior political figures from the Government and set out the UK Government’s revised plan for helping people across the whole of Sudan. 

Development Minister Stephen O’Brien said:

“I have come away with cautious optimism for the future of the people of Darfur but our interest in Sudan does not begin and end there. The UK Government supports people across Sudan. The situation in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile states remains of huge concern and we continue to push for full humanitarian access.  

“We are deeply concerned about the deterioration of relationships between Sudan and South Sudan, and urge the two countries take immediate steps to diffuse the situation.”

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Published 2 March 2012