Speech by Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock during the Bundestag debate on the deployment of armed German troops for the military evacuation from the Sudan

26.04.2023 - Speech

The violence in the Sudan threatens to reduce an entire country to brutal chaos once more, a country that had been on the road to transition. Two heavily armed camps are embroiled in a violent power struggle. More than 400 women, men and children have lost their lives, thousands have been injured. In the midst of this violence, many of our compatriots were left stranded. I just met some of them – colleagues working for the German Embassy who described what it meant to be there over the last ten days: sitting in their apartment for days on end, some with small children, with shots being fired and bombs exploding outside, with repeated power cuts and therefore no telephone connection, with water and food supplies running low and then, in the hours prior to the evacuation, standing on or beside the tarmac in temperatures over 40 degrees before finally getting themselves to safety.

We, the Federal Government, are therefore grateful that we were able to bring these colleagues to safety, colleagues from the Federal Foreign Office but also from the Federal Intelligence Service, the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), the Federal Police, together with more than 700 people from all over the world.

This really was teamwork at its best. Together with the Defence Ministry, and the Defence Minister will take the floor presently, I would like to thank the Bundeswehr, the Federal Police, the Federal Foreign Office, the colleagues who worked around the clock to save lives. Thank you very much!

Together you all showed how effectively and quickly we can act when it comes to the crunch and when we work hand in hand. It was a dangerous mission and it was a great feat to set the wheels in motion in such a short space of time. After all, we had to move quickly and resolutely when a small window for the mission opened with the ceasefire at the weekend.

In the Foreign Affairs Committee this morning, and my colleague in the Defence Committee, we talked to many of you about how best to involve parliament at such a juncture. As Ministers, we both attach great priority to this. I would thus also like to thank my colleagues for their questions, for their suggestions on how to improve procedures. To my mind, it is important to be clear that at such times we cannot know in advance what the right answer is. Thankfully a window emerged in which we could bring everyone to safety without anyone suffering harm.

Unfortunately, this did not work for all international staff. Three World Food Programme staff members lost their lives, as did other nationals. And that is why it was crucial for us to consider various options and then, once the ceasefire was announced, and we had no way of knowing when this would happen, to make a decision. I am grateful that many of you made clear after the discussion and will hopefully vote in accordance that it was right and proper to make use of the scope provided in the past by the Federal Constitutional Court in similar cases, namely that the use of armed troops does not require prior approval of the German Bundestag when delaying would be dangerous and when people are to be rescued from particularly perilous situations. In such cases, a motion for approval is to be introduced as quickly as possible after the mission. That is what we are doing today and I ask for your broad support.

However, I also want to take this opportunity to voice my sincere thanks once again to our international partners. This mission would not have worked the way it did if we had not been able to rely on our partners – and vice versa they on us. Above all the cooperation with France, the United States, Britain but also Jordan where we flew from was crucial for these rescue flights.

For us it was central – there were some questions about this – that we did not necessarily need to be first in line with evacuation but that we coordinate our efforts so that everyone could feed their strengths into this joint mission. For us it was important to prepare in such a way, so that we could show full solidarity with our partners, EU partners but also other international partners, and also bring nationals from other countries out. We thus brought more than 190 Germans to safety but also people from more than 40 other countries: 180 people from the EU, more than 130 nationals from countries in the African Union, as well as Ukrainians, Australians, Canadians and nationals from many other countries. It was a European, an international operation in which everyone contributed their strengths. This is solidarity in action in the face of crisis.

We chose the mandate period to ensure we remain able to act in the coming days and weeks if more people need our help.

However, I would like to make clear here that we are not averting our eyes. We remain focused even if the topic is gradually disappearing from the media. After all, the people in the Sudan still need our help. There has to be a long-term ceasefire.

We need humanitarian access. And that is why at this time when we can breathe more easily, I call upon the conflicting parties: if the people in your country are important to you, then put an end to the dying! Put an end to the suffering!

With this in mind, I urge you to approve this mandate.

Thank you very much.


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