Mr. Chair, I will be splitting my time with the hon. member for Kitchener—Conestoga.
I would like to begin by noting that the events of the past few weeks are seriously troubling. No one is trivializing that. Violence and insecurity continue to plague the people of Darfur, even those who have sought refuge in IDP camps as well as in eastern Chad. This continuing violence is unacceptable.
Greater progress needs to be made in the Darfur peace agreement, including implementation by the parties and bringing non-signatories on board. The parties to the agreement and the non-signatories should engage in a coordinated process to achieve this. Canada stands ready to do its part. In fact, Canada has already done a lot.
Canada has played a central diplomatic role, working closely with the African Union and partners to broker an agreement during the final days of those negotiations. That led to the signing of the Darfur peace agreement. We provided diplomatic, financial and expert support to the African Union throughout the peace process.
The Darfur peace agreement that emerged from these negotiations and an early transition to a UN-led mission remain the best hope for peace in Darfur. It is a tragedy for the people of Darfur that some of the movements that purport to represent those people remain content to let that hope slip away.
Throughout this period of transition, Canada has remained a steadfast supporter of the African Union mission in Sudan. We look forward to continuing to work with the African Union to ensure the most robust and effective use of available resources and we welcome the short term and long term plans of the UN to strengthen that mission in preparation for the transition to a UN force and to facilitate the implementation of the Darfur peace agreement.
Canada is encouraged by the United Nations' recent announcement, following Security Council resolution 1706, that it would work to support the enhancement of AMIS as a first step toward full transition. The African Union is supportive of this effort.
We continue to call on the government of Sudan, in the strongest possible terms, to cooperate with the international community to urgently facilitate this request from both the African Union and the United Nations to end the suffering of the people of Darfur.
Canada continues to call on the international community to maintain support for an enhanced African Union mission during the transition period. Pending a UN mission, the African Union mission provides some welcome protection for civilians in Darfur, not enough, but some.
The African Union mission has been a groundbreaking exercise for that organization and it has accomplished some progress under difficult circumstances. Nearly 7,700 military and civilian police personnel are currently deployed in Darfur.
Canada has taken a leading international role, providing important support to the African Union peacekeeping force in Darfur. To assist the African Union, Canada has provided to the mission over 100 armoured personnel carriers and APC driver training. It has established an intermediate staging base and training centre in Dakar, Senegal, to provide training to African Union soldiers via a “train the trainer” program, and more than 150 African Union soldiers from Senegal, Nigeria and Rwanda were trained on operating the vehicles.
We have sent $1.4 million worth of personal equipment such as helmets, protective vests and maps, 25 helicopters, two fixed-wing aircraft and fuel to fly them, and military and civilian police advisers and expert planners to assist the African Union in planning and logistics.
This is all part of a comprehensive support package to the African Union. Since 2004, Canada has committed $190 million to the African Union mission in Sudan, including our most recent announcement of $20 million to strengthen the ability of AMIS to implement the Darfur peace agreement and set the necessary conditions for a transition to a United Nations mission. Canada has earmarked these new funds to enhance our assistance in the areas of helicopter and fixed-wing support and aviation fuel, including the provision of an additional fixed-wing aircraft.
We are also considering options that include renewing our contribution to the construction of civilian police base camps throughout the region.
Can we do more? Should we do more? We should make every effort to do that and to expand our support as we can.
Canada has been at the forefront of the action in Darfur, whether it is development or military aid commitments. I am proud of our Prime Minister's call for action at the Francophonie and I call on the Sudanese government to act responsibly and work with the international community to help bring peace to this troubled region.