Speech by Federal Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier before the Bundestag on extending the UNAMID/UNMIS mandate

16.09.2008 - Speech

16 September 2008

Mr President,

Members of the Bundestag,

The humanitarian situation in Darfur remains dramatic. Since the start of the armed conflicts in 2003 at least 200,000 people have lost their lives. 2.2 million people have fled and at least 200,000 of them are in Chad.

As you know, despite multiple efforts on many sides it has not been possible to bring the fighting to an end. Agreements, where any have been reached at all, are broken by all sides. But we all know a political solution is absolutely necessary. The Sudanese government and the rebel organizations are still called upon as a matter of urgency to end the violence and return to the negotiating table. We support the new negotiation efforts of AU Special Envoy Bassolé, who is currently travelling in the region.

Taking all of this into account, these peace efforts and support from UNAMID – through the stabilization of the situation on the ground wherever possible and, where necessary, through protection for civilians and humanitarian workers – are still vital. UNAMID continues to be, as you know, dependent on the support of states. At present, the UNAMID mission has at its disposal over 10,000 of the total 26,000 planned soldiers, who are to be provided primarily by African states. For our part, German soldiers are fully engaged in key functions like transport support. We have offered to provide strategic airlift capabilities. This justifies the scope of the mandate. We have to be ready to start up at a moment's notice if necessary. That is why we need a mandate to the order of 250 soldiers.

Because the former Secretary-General of the United Nations was in Berlin last Friday and Saturday and spoke at the Ambassadors Conference, I don't want to miss the opportunity to add that beyond our participation in the mission we are also taking over training exercises at the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre in Accra, Ghana. We are currently equipping a Senegalese police contingent for the mission in Sudan.

As you know, we are also present through our humanitarian aid contributions. This year we have supported humanitarian aid efforts in the conflict region with over 9.5 million euro. Darfur and Chad are the most important target regions of our humanitarian engagement in Africa and, as I see it, will continue to be so for quite some time.

We may not see pictures of the humanitarian catastrophe in southern Sudan on a daily basis, yet we know that the situation there is anything but stable. This year we were also forced to accept considerable setbacks in the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. You have followed the reporting on the crisis in the Abyei region. The elections scheduled to take place in southern Sudan in 2009 are now approaching. In 2011 there will be a referendum to decide the future status of southern Sudan. If this entire process is to stay at all on track, the UNMIS mission remains necessary.

Allow me here to thank the German soldiers and police officers, the military observers and the staff officers who are serving as part of these missions. Of course I also thank the employees of the aid organizations, who are fulfilling their duty in Sudan under extremely difficult conditions.

We assume that the UN Security Council will extend the UNAMID and UNMIS mandates on a regular basis. In conclusion, allow me to appeal to you to give broad approval for the Federal Government's motion.

Thank you very much.

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