Tuesday, 12 March 2019

Ceisteanna (73)

Ruth Coppinger


73. Deputy Ruth Coppinger asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade his views on the suppression of protests in Sudan by the government of President al-Bashir; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12354/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Foreign)

I am deeply concerned about the violence which has accompanied recent protests in Sudan, including credible reports of multiple deaths.

Demonstrations, triggered by spiralling costs of living, began in the city of Atbara in the north east of the country on 19 December last year, quickly spreading to other towns and cities across the country. While initially the protests were against the worsening economic situation, they soon developed into calls for President Omar al-Bashir’s resignation.

In reaction to the protests, schools have been closed and a state of emergency declared in some regions. Sudanese police have used tear gas and live ammunition in an attempt to disperse crowds. It is reported that over 1,000 people have been arrested across the country since protests began and that more than 50 have been killed. The use of live fire and arbitrary detention cannot be justified.

Ireland fully supports the 28 February 2019 statement by the EU High Representative expressing concern at the situation in Sudan which underlined the importance of an environment for political dialogue and the exercise of the legitimate right to express differing views. Such an environment would be essential if the national consensus needed to find sustainable responses to Sudan's deep political and economic crisis is to be built. In addition, Ireland also fully supports the EU statement of 11 January 2019 which calls on the Government of Sudan to release all journalists, members of the opposition, human rights defenders and other protesters arbitrarily detained, and to guarantee the independence of the Investigation Committee, under the Chairmanship of the Sudanese Director of Public Prosecutions, tasked with the investigation of abuses.

The Embassy of Ireland in Nairobi, which is accredited to Sudan, continues to monitor the situation closely in cooperation with the Delegation of the European Union in Khartoum.

In addition to the current unrest, Sudan continues to suffer from a range of humanitarian crises, driven by protracted conflicts, inequality and climate change. These feed into the popular disaffection leading to protests. This humanitarian situation has been further exacerbated by the economic crisis in 2018, leading to severe levels of food insecurity and malnutrition across the country. More than 1.8 million people are internally displaced and Sudan hosts a further 1.2 million refugees that have fled conflict in neighbouring countries, the majority of whom rely on humanitarian aid for their survival. As a result, an estimated 5.5 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance in Sudan this year, including 2.6 million children. Ireland is responding to these crises, with almost €26 million in direct humanitarian assistance to Sudan through our UN, NGO and Red Cross partners since 2012.