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Monday, 22 August 2011
Page: 8892


Mr LAURIE FERGUSON (Werriwa) (11:38): The member for Fremantle has certainly endeavoured in this resolution to cover the full gamut of Sudan's issues, from the incursions by the infamous Lords' Resistance Army from Uganda to the situation in Darfur and the Janjaweed, a militia which is supposedly independent but is essentially armed and financed by the government of Sudan, to the question of South Sudan's recent independent announcement and the long-term problems of this nation. They are all included in this resolution.

Sudan, of course, has multiple issues confronting it. Its under-five mortality is 112 per 1,000 people. Ninety per cent of the nation lives on less than $1 per day and its maternal mortality is infamous, indeed, with 2,000-plus women out of every 100,000 dying in child birth.

Turning to Darfur, there has been a wide variety of estimates of how many have perished in this conflict. The World Health Organisation at one stage quoted 50,000. A British parliamentary inquiry has estimated 300,000, but the Lancet magazine, the famous British medical magazine, in January 2010 said that there was a 95 per cent confidence that the numbers were between 178,000 and 461,000. By any person's estimates, a significant number of people that have perished and, as I said, historically it is the so-called militias. There are issues, of course, between herders and between agriculturalists. There is, of course, an Arab negroid divide within the country, but it is essentially a regime that is excoriated throughout the world. The Bashir regime is, indeed, perpetrating most of these problems. The number of times in which military vehicles have been traceable to the regime and the number of times that armaments have been traced to them is on the public record.

We should also be historically concerned about Russia's continued violation of arms embargoes instituted by the United Nations. That has not helped the situation. There have been the disguised Russian purchased planes—disguised in actual fact as UN planes—that have participated in this conflict.

Historically, the government in the north has instigated an Arab apartheid style process, discriminating very intensely against those people who are essentially of negroid extraction, whether they be animist or Christian or indeed, in some cases, fellow Muslims.

The motion recognises the recent independence of South Sudan, which I think we are all pleased was the outcome of the 2005 Peace Settlement. Throughout the whole period there have been grave doubts that the regime in Khartoum would honour its agreement and, of course, in this last year there have been border conflicts around areas where there are issues as to the population balance, but also issues towards access to resources. It has been positive that a country with Juba as a capital with 8¼ million people has been established. It has been recognised internationally and, as the previous speaker indicated, there has been aid assistance.

This, of course, is a very complex country. Probably one of my continuing memories is to attend with my colleague the member for Parramatta a riverside theatre event about five years ago with 500 people attending where there were 30-plus dance troops from different Sudanese ethnic groups. I had a little boy sitting next to me, about five years of age, and his mouth was agape. He could not believe the diversity of people from his own land. He could not understand how he could be a Sudanese from a particular tribal group and yet these people are there so different from him. It was far beyond an Albanian looking at an Estonian folkloric group in Europe.

Obviously the country is dealing with issues of illiteracy and poverty. It is a country that has been put together around colonial boundaries and past European conflicts. It has very significant problems, but these are not assisted by the continuing attitudes of the regime in the north, a regime which, as I indicated, is under a number of international bans and which continues to interfere in other parts of the nation.