Lord Alton leads call for action on Darfur

 The All Party Parliamentary Group for Sudan is urgently seeking a meeting with the Foreign Secretary Jack Straw following an address by Lord Alton of Liverpool and Becky Tinsley at a Sudan APPG meeting on Wednesday in the House of Commons. During the meeting, which was chaired by Hilton Dawson MP, Lord Alton took the opportunity to present a the findings of a report which had been published following his visit to Darfur with Jubilee Campaign. The Sudanese Ambassador, who also attended the meeting, denied the first hand accounts of rape and the scale of the atrocities in Darfur. Jubilee Campaign's co-founder Lord Alton said 'The facts on the ground are not in dispute. The Foreign Secretary has the opportunity to lead the international community to end this dreadful chapter in Sudan's history. The time has come for a serious, calibrated and effective response to this crisis. We cannot wait for the death toll to rise still further before we say enough is enough.' The All Party Parliamentary group for Sudan was urged to set out a four-pronged strategy to the Foreign Secretary in an attempt to change the Government's hitherto, ineffective diplomatic approach. In his recommendations, Lord Alton called for the following; 1. A no fly zone over Darfur and eastern Chad to be implemented to prevent the Sudanese armed forces from supplying the Janjaweed with bombs to use on their own people. The no fly zone would create the space for security, ceasefires and peace talks to develop. 2. UN and EU sanctions implemented against the Government of Sudan which earns $1million a day from oil exports to finance its arms purchases. Furthermore, a freezing of Sudan's assets, the banning of its officials and ministers from leaving Sudan, and a ban on arms sales to the regime were also recommended. 3. An end to travel restrictions placed on humanitarian agencies so that many remote villages in Darfur can be accessed where currently no aid has reached. 4. UN approval for the African Union troops to protect civilians in Darfur and Chad, and to disarm and apprehend the Janjaweed. Lord Alton has already tabled three parliamentary questions concerning the Government's investigation into allegations that chemical weapons have been used against civilians in Darfur, the government of Sudan's attacks on two refugee camps near Nyala in Darfur on 2 November and the evacuation of 88 humanitarian aid workers from West Darfur on 1 November following further developments in the security situation.

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