Pan African Parliament to send mission to Darfur

The newly established Pan African Parliament will send a fact-finding mission to Sudan’s troubled Darfur region, which the United Nations said was the scene of the worst humanitarian catastrophe in the world today.

Pan-African Parliament (PAP) president Gertrude Mongella said on Thursday the mission would examine “what is happening on the ground, who is doing what and how much is being done by the Sudanese government, the international community and the African Union.”

The mission, composed by PAP parliamentarians, will then report back to the body, Mongella told reporters in Midrand, about 20km from Johannesburg where the PAP is being housed.

“We will look into the report and see if there are any urgent issues to be taken care of before the next meeting of the house,” she said.

Mongella cited the 1994 Rwandan massacre, saying “no-one moved while hundreds of thousands of people were being killed”.

“We don’t want it to be repeated when we [as parliamentarians] have taken an oath to defend the people of Africa,” she said.

Aid officials have said hundreds of people could be dying every day in the camps from preventable diseases, in what the United Nations has called the worst humanitarian catastrophe in the world today.

Sudan called on the militias to help subdue a rebellion that erupted in Darfur in February 2003, as the region’s mainly black, impoverished residents rose up against the Arab-led government they said had ignored their plight.

Established in March by the African Union, the PAP has no powers to pass laws and has no budget for this year although the 265-seat assembly plans to evolve into a law-making body around 2009. - Sapa-AFP


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