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EU MPs express concern over deteriorating situation in Darfur

March 31, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – A pair of visiting European Union parliamentarians expressed concern over the growing unrest in Sudan’s western region of Darfur, saying it could escalate further if not contained.

In a press release issued by the EU office in Khartoum, the two members of the European Parliament’s development committee "warned of the consequences of a deteriorating humanitarian and security situation in Darfur if is not contained through peaceful ways".

The EU MPs also took note of the president Omer Hassan al-Bashir’s national dialogue initiative announced earlier this year, saying that "peace, national dialogue and reconciliation are key to Sudan’s stability".

"They called on all the relevant parties and forces to step up efforts for an inclusive national dialogue in an enabling environment to achieve a peaceful and democratic transition in Sudan. In particular the voices of the civil society can add to a meaningful dialogue about the country’s future," the statement said.

"The visiting delegation noted with concern the obstacles faced by the international organisations and civil society in Sudan regarding humanitarian access, including suspension of activities, and expressed the desire that these can be overcome in the near future".

The two parliamentarians called on Sudanese authorities "to honour the promise of political freedoms and strengthen the respect for human rights and media freedoms".

During their three-day visit, the delegation met with Sudanese lawmakers and other officials, as well as human rights activists, representatives of local NGOs and international humanitarian, development and financial agencies in Sudan.

On Sunday, the EU ambassador to Sudan, Tomas Ulicny, inaugurated the new EU-funded health services program in East Sudan.

Ulicny said that the €12.8 million program was made out of the "EU belief that strengthening health services and infrastructure are key to achieve peace dividends and is a fundamental and basic human right that all the people of the world should enjoy especially our brothers and sisters in East Sudan".

He noted that the EU provided €57 million so far for ongoing projects in East Sudan since 2011, plus additional €24.5 million in the process of approval for start in 2014.

In a related issue, Sudan’s chairman of the foreign relations subcommittee in the national assembly, Mohamed Youssef Abdullah, said after a meeting with Ulicny that the latter promised that the EU will allow the entry of Sudanese goods to the EU.

Unlike the United States, the EU does not impose sanctions on Sudan.

(ST)