Foreign Minister: "Austria is fully involved in the international community’s efforts to improve the situation"
Vienna, 1 July 2004 - Following a renewed discussion with the Sudanese ambassador, Foreign Minister Benita Ferrero-Waldner stated that in conjunction with other EU Member States Austria has significantly stepped up the pressure on the Sudanese government with the explicit goal of pushing through the international community’s demand that the human rights violations be stopped immediately, the culprits be prosecuted under criminal law and humanitarian relief organisations be given unhindered access to the crisis region. Ferrero-Waldner explained that she had used last week’s bilateral visit to Vienna by US Under Secretary for Political Affairs, Marc Grossman, to discuss an harmonised transatlantic approach aimed at assisting the stabilisation of Sudan, including the situation in Darfur. Furthermore, the Darfur crisis had also represented an important item in her talks with the representatives of Norway and Canada at the NATO summit in Istanbul at the beginning of this week. The Foreign Minister then pointed out:"Austria has contributed to shaping the relevant decisions taken within both the EU and the United Nations and of course also supports their implementation. It is imperative that access for relief organisations be facilitated. In the first half of June, the renowned human rights lawyer and Special Rapporteur of the Commission on Human Rights on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Asma Jahangir, visited Darfur at the invitation of the Sudanese government. From the end of July, eight human rights monitors dispatched by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights will stay in Darfur for three months - in agreement with the Sudanese government - in order to build up structures for the protection of the most severely affected groups of the population, focusing especially on women and children". Concluding Ferrero-Waldner stated: "At the donors’ conference for Darfur held on the 3rd of June in Geneva, Austria pledged the amount of EURO 0.2 million in humanitarian emergency relief for the internally displaced people in Darfur and the refugees in the border region between Sudan and Chad. Apart from this sum, Austria is also contributing her set share to the humanitarian assistance granted by the EU to Sudan in 2004, which means that an amount of approximately EURO 14 million should be made available immediately."