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Full Account of the debate at Commons on South Sudan

04-30-2014, 09:43 PM
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Full Account of the debate at Commons on South Sudan

    and#65532;and#65532;Deepak Obhrai Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and for International Human Rights
    Mr. Chair, it is indeed a very important issue that has been brought forward for discussion today, the situation in South Sudan.
    Before I begin, let me just give a brief breakdown on the situation in South Sudan. I was born in that part of the region, in East Africa. I am well aware of the situation when the colonial powers left Africa. The winds of change were blowing on the continent, and African
    and#65532;countries became independent.
    Before that, one of the tragedies was that during the colonial power, the boundaries that were made in that part of the world were boundaries that did not take into account many of the ethnic and tribal customs and tribes living together. The borders had been made, but at that given time, we did not have much conflict; however, as the situation arose and as the countries became independent, these tensions began, the tribal tension that has been hitting the African continent very regularly.
    In the earlier years, the Organization of African Unity passed a resolution to say all borders must be recognized so that there would not be conflict. Unfortunately, that did not work.
    In the case of Sudan, South Sudan was joined with Sudan, one of the largest countries in the African continent. We had upper Sudan and lower Sudan, the lower Sudan being people of black origin and the upper Sudan people of Arab nature. This led to a conflict that had been there for many, many years with thousands of people, leading to rebellion.
    Canada, at that given time, played a role in the comprehensive peace plan with the world community, with the United Nation, many of which sessions I attended. We brought the parties together for a comprehensive settlement. In the process, Canada being very generous with refugee claimants from these countries, we took quite a lot of refugees who were displaced from South Sudan due to the war that was taking place between north and south.
    Subsequently, with Canada also being enrolled very heavily politically in the comprehensive peace plan, providing logistic support and working with our allies—the U.S.A. and all the others—pressure was put on the north and the south to come to the table, which they did.
    and#65532;Out of that was born a new nation in the continent of Africa called South Sudan.
    I had the honour and the privilege to represent Canada at the birth of this new nation in Africa. There was a huge amount of excitement when this nation was born, including on my part. Coming from the region, I found it quite historical to see a nation being born that rightfully should have been independent. As this nation was born, with it came the issue of responsibility.
    In my riding of Calgary East, I have a large South Sudanese community with whom I interface quite a lot, as we continue to see how best we could build this country. Many of the ideas were that we could provide assistance, and during my visit to Juba prior to
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    and#65532;independence, Canada was giving assistance in building up democratic institutions. However, in talking to my constituents, I learned that many Canadian South Sudanese went back to rebuild this nation.
    I remember at one time meeting President Kiir; half the people at the table told President Kiir that they had voted for me in the last election.
    Canada played a very active role in building this new country. The country, as it was born, had great expectations for the people of South Sudan. Unfortunately, as things have progressed, as things move forward, tribalism has reared its ugly head in South Sudan, as it has everywhere else in other African countries.
    Just recently, I wanted to bring in the ICC to Kenya. There was a tribal war as well in Kenya
    and#65532;and other countries.
    What is happening in the Central African Republic is very concerning. People are being killed due to ethnic and religious tensions.
    We see what is happening.
    I was in Rwanda two weeks ago to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the genocide of one tribe against the other, the Hutu as well as the Tutsis who were being killed by extremist Hutus. It was all based on tribalism. The same is taking place in Congo.
    It is with great dismay and shock that we see South Sudan disintegrating into a tribal war. The problem is that, while the political leaders indulge in this, the poor people, the citizens, are ultimately paying the heaviest price. In South Sudan at this time the people are paying the heaviest price by being displaced.
    We were sad when we learned of the attack at the United Nations. We strongly condemned the attack. People were seeking refuge from violence and ultimately lost their lives, including some peacekeepers.
    This displacement is a very worrying factor to Canada. Canada calls upon both parties to return to the peace table and work toward building a nation, since they have just become independent.
    IGAD is working hard under the chairmanship of Kenya and Ethiopia, and the peace talks are going on. Regrettably, those peace talks up to now have not brought any peaceful settlement, and the war and the displacement continue. The poor people are suffering.
    Later in the evening, my colleagues will talk about how much development assistance
    and#65532;Canada has provided and continues to provide to South Sudan.
    We here in Canada are calling on both sides of South Sudan to return to the table as quickly as possible and work together toward ensuring that the unity government belonging to all of the tribes of South Sudan does not fall. They should look at examples of other countries in Africa and how much they have lost in the way of development. They must recognize that ordinary people are paying the biggest price. They are suffering and being displaced. More to the point, these bands are seeking all the so-called power, when in reality their people are being displaced by the thousands.
    I am sorry to say it, but South Sudan currently has gone back 10 to 15 years in development due to this war. South Sudan has a lot of potential as it is one of the rich
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    and#65532;countries, with its oil. The diaspora of South Sudanese in Canada and other countries like the U.S.A. can assist in building this country.
    On behalf of the Government of Canada, I again call very strongly on both sides of the conflict to go back to the table, to go back to what IGAD is doing, and sign a peace treaty and work for the people of South Sudan to build the country the people of Sudan had huge expectations for, as did I at the time it was born.
    and#65532;and#65532;Heand#769;leand#768;ne Laverdieand#768;re Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC
    Mr. Chair, I heard the hon. member say that our Minister of Foreign Affairs spoke with
    conviction about the peace process in Ethiopia, which is on hold right now, as we know.
    Perhaps the hon. member is aware that many members of the international community are saying that Canada speaks loudly and yells a lot, but that its actions are not always as convincing.
    What is Canada doing to support the peace process?
    and#65532;and#65532;Deepak Obhrai Calgary East, AB
    Mr. Chair, I just returned from the African Union summit, where I met with the current foreign minister of South Sudan and talked to him directly. I have attended many of these conferences. I told the foreign minister how strongly Canada wants a return to the peace talks.
    Let me be very clear. When I was at the African Union summit, the Africans told me many
    and#65532;times that there must be an African-led solution to these problems. Right now that African- led solution is under IGAD and is led by Kenya and Ethiopia.
    Canada is giving its full support. The IGAD people will be required to provide the country with the support it needs. At the current time, the African Union is demanding that it must be an African-led solution, and Canada supports that.
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    and#65532;and#65532;Kirsty Duncan Etobicoke North, ON
    Mr. Chair, through you to the parliamentary secretary, will the government support a more robust role for UNMISS as the mission's mandate is being reviewed? Will the government consider providing additional funding to humanitarian partners, if the needs on the ground continue to increase? What actions will the government undertake to ensure that humanitarian partners are able to operate independently of the military and political
    and#65532;mandates of UNMISS?
    Situation in the Republic of South Sudan
    Government Orders 6:25 p.m. Conservative
    Deepak Obhrai Calgary East, AB
    Mr. Chair, we have supported and will continue to support UNMISS and the United Nations in whatever capacity the United Nations and the Security Council decide. Canada will do the part it has been doing and will continue to do so in supporting the United Nations mandate. Most important, we have said to ensure that violence comes to an end and the peace process starts.
    At the same time, the member asked whether we would be assisting civil societies independent of the government. I can assure the hon. member that this government does not provide assistance to the governments. We provide assistance through other means and, most important, through NGOs.
    However, ultimately, the goal is to ensure that it reaches the people who are suffering under this war. For that reason, Canada will be there and will stand with the people of South
    and#65532;and#65532;Sudan.
    Situation in the Republic of South Sudan
    Government Orders 6:25 p.m.
    NDP
    4
    and#65532;and#65532;Heand#769;leand#768;ne Laverdieand#768;re Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC
    Mr. Chair, I would like to thank my hon. colleague for his remarks.
    My colleague said that this process must be led by Africans themselves, and we all agree. Obviously, there is no doubt about that. However, to say that it must be an African-led process does not mean that they have to do it completely on their own or without any support.
    and#65532;Would my colleague agree that resources should be allocated to the African Union to help it carry out its mandate?
    Situation in the Republic of South Sudan
    Government Orders 6:25 p.m. Conservative
    Deepak Obhrai Calgary East, AB
    Indeed, Mr. Chair, Canada is and has been a supporter of the African Union. I attend all African Union summits that take place. I have been attending the last five years to have Canada's engagement over there and to assist the African Union in meeting many of the challenges that are arising in Africa.
    Today the challenge is South Sudan, the Central African Republic and others, but Canada remains heavily engaged with the African Union to continue to work faster toward achieving what we all want: a peaceful Africa where the conflict does not exist. Africa is a continent of the future, and everybody agrees, because of the tremendous opportunity and all those things. All that has been lost to all the wars that are taking place for no reason.
    and#65532;and#65532;Therefore, Canada will support the African Union as it moves forward in trying to address many of the challenges that Africa faces.
    Situation in the Republic of South Sudan
    Government Orders 6:25 p.m. Conservative
    5
    and#65532;and#65532;The Assistant Deputy Chair Bruce Stanton
    Before we resume debate, I will just remind hon. members that the Standing Orders for take note debates permit, in the spirit of a less formal debate, members to take seats in the chamber that might be closer to one another and this often means an exchange that is complement to the subject that is at hand in the House.
    Resuming debate, the hon. member for Laurier—Sainte-Marie.
    and#65532;Situation in the Republic of South Sudan
    Government Orders 6:30 p.m.
    NDP
    Heand#769;leand#768;ne Laverdieand#768;re Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC
    Mr. Chair, over the past few months, we have talked a lot about many very important crises in Ukraine, Syria—of course, we cannot forget Syria—and the Central African Republic. All of these crises are very serious and very important. However, there is one that, unfortunately, we talk about a little less, although we should show more concern. I am talking about the political and humanitarian crisis in South Sudan.
    Here is a brief history of the situation. As we know, South Sudan was created in 2011 following a referendum in which nearly 99% of participants voted for independence. In fact, South Sudan is the youngest country in the world. The international community invested significantly in that country, hoping that a well-functioning and stable government would be established following years of civil war.
    However, we know that democracy and good governance cannot necessarily be built in just a few months or even a few years. It takes time. Years of civil war had already left South
    and#65532;and#65532;Sudan with one of the worst development rankings in the world and extremely low humanitarian indicators, as well as a lack of infrastructure.
    In December, political differences among South Sudanese leadership led to an outbreak in violence, leaving thousands dead and displacing hundreds of thousands of people. With the coming rainy season, there are major challenges in terms of aid delivery, and the number of refugees and internally displaced people are rising.
    In the past few weeks alone, violence has escalated. The United Nations reported that 200 people were killed in Bentiu on April 15 and during violent attacks at the Bor base on April 17.
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    and#65532;The United Nations report stated that civilians were targeted on the basis of their ethnicity. Much like the messages broadcast on Radio mille collines in Rwanda 20 years ago, radio stations are broadcasting hate messages encouraging people to rape women of certain ethnicities and drive members of certain groups out of their cities and towns.
    Mr. Lanzer, the top United Nations humanitarian official in South Sudan, said that this past week has been the darkest in the nation's history. There are fears that this could turn into genocide and ethnic cleansing. Those are the words that people, the media and experts are starting to use. The situation is being compared to that in Rwanda, and I cannot help but acknowledge what my colleague opposite pointed out about how the Secretary-General of the United Nations took responsibility for what happened in Rwanda.
    The United Nations is an association of nations. When the Secretary-General of the United Nations takes responsibility for an event or a tragedy, he does so on behalf of all countries.
    and#65532;Like all other countries, Canada must therefore take responsibility for this tragedy and fulfill its commitment to ensuring that such a tragedy never comes to pass again, not in South Sudan and not in the Central African Republic, despite what that same member said yesterday about how preventing genocide is not a good way to spend taxpayers' money. Forgive me for going off on a tangent, but I felt I had to emphasize that.
    Back to South Sudan.
    I have been rather involved in this issue. I have met with a lot of specialists and people directly affected by this crisis, incuding representatives from the diaspora. They all talked to me about the absolutely alarming situation.
    It is clear that this conflict has evolved into a terrible, monstrous humanitarian crisis.
    More than 4.9 million people are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance. More than 1 million people have been displaced in 100 days, including 916,000 people inside Sudan. Let us try to imagine that. I come from Montreal, so one million people is a good part of the population of Montreal, or not far from it. Nearly 290,000 people have crossed borders to take refuge in neighbouring countries, which often simply do not have the means to receive them adequately.
    One of the really worrying statistics is that half the population of South Sudan is made up of children. Clearly, most of the refugees are children as well. Even before the crisis, those children were in an absolutely terrible situation.
    I have here a document from UNICEF Canada that explains it very well:
    and#65532;“Time is running out for the children of the world’s newest nation—we need better resources, better access, peace and security. Children cannot wait”.
    As I was saying, most of the refugees are children who were living in extremely difficult situations beforehand and who now have to flee from their homes and their part of the country. Indeed, 95% of the refugees are women and children.
    They are in a terrible situation but there are a lot of other problems. Farmers have not had the time to stockpile or to plant their crops. There are fears of a severe famine. I will come back to that later.
    Moreover, the rainy season increases the cost of involvement by humanitarian aid organizations and makes it difficult, if not almost impossible, to reach the most vulnerable. I
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    and#65532;have seen how the roads are in Africa and what a rainy season is, because I have lived there. Essentially, the roads become impassable.
    I now come back to the issue of food because we have to put a human face on it. It is estimated that about 7 million people will be experiencing food insecurity and facing the risk of famine. I come from Montreal and I know that this number corresponds to the population of Quebec.
    There is also an increase in the cases of cholera, polio and ethnic violence. Regional terrorist groups are known to be present, including some associated with al-Qaeda and al- Shabaab. There are cases of sexual violence, rape and sexual exploitation. Children are being recruited by militias and schools are being used as military camps. The situation is appalling.
    and#65532;Requests are coming from all sides. Canada needs to be there, doing its part. Despite the terrible situation, there is hope. Many observers say that there is hope for South Sudan.
    I have repeatedly asked for increased funding for humanitarian and long-term aid for South Sudan. I sent a letter to the minister, and I raised the issue during question period, in the media. On April 1, the government finally increased aid for South Sudan. I was happy to hear the news.
    However, I believe that more needs to be done. We need to provide financial support for the peace talks in Ethiopia; continue to closely monitor the situation on the ground; develop a short-term humanitarian aid strategy and a long-term development strategy that includes flexibility and a rapid response, since this is an important issue; and support the UN peacekeeping mission in South Sudan.
    I have a number of pages in front of me. I could speak to this topic for half an hour, but I would likely bore my colleagues. Nevertheless, this is a very important subject.
    Situation in the Republic of South Sudan
    Government Orders 6:40 p.m.
    Liberal
    and#65532;and#65532;Kirsty Duncan Etobicoke North, ON
    Mr. Chair, I would like to thank my hon. colleague for her passion, commitment, experience
    and history.
    As she points out, of the five million people who need humanitarian assistance, only 38% have been reached so far. There is a major food crisis currently hitting South Sudan, endangering thousands of people, threatening to further destroy the gains made over the past five years and testing commitments by the international community and lessons learned from past crises. Planting requires people, seeds and equipment to be in the right place at the right time during the planting season. This has not happened this year due to
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    and#65532;the conflict displacing people, agricultural equipment being destroyed or stolen and low availability of seeds due to crisis-related consumption.
    The rains are coming, famine is probable, and I am wondering what recommendations my hon. colleague would make.
    Situation in the Republic of South Sudan
    Government Orders 6:40 p.m.
    NDP
    and#65532;and#65532;Heand#769;leand#768;ne Laverdieand#768;re Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC
    Mr. Chair, I would like to thank my colleague for her question. I know that she is as
    concerned as I am about these issues and she works hard in these files.
    I think that we are facing two problems. We need to look at it from a short-term perspective, for the year ahead. People were unable to plant their crops because their grain stock was vandalized and because of the ongoing war. They were too afraid to go work peacefully in their fields. There is therefore a risk that there will be no harvest and, in the short term, that would create an even more serious crisis. While taking action in the short term, we must also think about the long term.
    I am sure we can chew gum and walk at the same time.
    That is what we must now do here. We have to think about the short term, the urgency of the situation and the human beings caught in this situation.
    We also have to think about long-term peace, an essential condition. In that regard, Canada could provide more support for the peace process, which has to be led by the countries concerned, including the African Union. This process must be supported in order to achieve peace. Long-term development starts with good governance and the establishment of institutions. It is in our interest. South Sudan is a country of focus for Canada. If that really is the case, we must be there.
    and#65532;A few years ago, Task Force South Sudan, a dedicated working group at Foreign Affairs, was working on South Sudan. Unfortunately, this team disappeared, even though we need it more than ever before.
    We have to think about the short term and respond to the emergency. However, we must not forget the long term so that we do not find ourselves in a similar situation and especially so that the South Sudanese do not find themselves in a similar situation in a few years.
    Situation in the Republic of South Sudan
    Government Orders 6:45 p.m.
    9
    and#65532;Conservative
    Gary Schellenberger Perth—Wellington, ON
    Mr. Chair, I congratulate the member on her presentation tonight.
    We all know that the situation in South Sudan is terrible. With a war raging and atrocities taking place, it is hard to imagine. The safety of those delivering humanitarian assistance is in peril. What would the member suggest we do, right now, while these hostilities are taking
    and#65532;and#65532;place?
    We know what has happened in Syria. We cannot get into Syria with humanitarian assistance.
    Are those offering humanitarian assistance in peril? How would the member suggest we get that assistance there right now?
    Situation in the Republic of South Sudan
    Government Orders 6:45 p.m.
    NDP
    Heand#769;leand#768;ne Laverdieand#768;re Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC
    Mr. Speaker, I do not believe that we must choose between putting humanitarian workers at
    risk and abandoning the South Sudanese to their fate.
    My hon. colleague, who serves with me on the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development, mentioned Syria, which we have heard about. In the case of Syria, the United Nations adopted a very strong resolution calling for access for
    and#65532;and#65532;humanitarian workers to the area.
    That did not resolve all the issues. However, witnesses who appeared before the committee told us that the UN resolution had made it easier for humanitarian workers to gain access to the area. We have to work on several fronts at the UN, including with organizations that could lay charges of crimes against humanity, in order to facilitate access for humanitarian workers. That seems to be the only solution.
    Anne-Marie Day Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, QC
    Mr. Chair, General Dallaire has said over and over again that there must never be another Rwanda, but that is what is happening.
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    and#65532;Earlier, a Conservative member said that we need to let the African Union take action and manage its own problems.
    If we let the African Union take action and we do not intervene at the international level, would that not mean that we are choosing one side over the other?
    Situation in the Republic of South Sudan
    Government Orders 6:45 p.m.
    NDP
    and#65532;and#65532;Heand#769;leand#768;ne Laverdieand#768;re Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC
    Mr. Chair, I think that would mean choosing the side of abandonment. I would like to add
    that, in my personal opinion, it would meaning choosing the side of shame.
    It has been said time and time again—I am feeling emotional—that we would never allow another situation like Rwanda to occur. We cannot let this happen in South Sudan. I apologize for bringing up another country that is being talked about a lot right now, but we cannot let this happen in the Central African Republic either.
    We must be courageous and support UNMISS, the UN Mission in South Sudan. Even if the African Union has to make the effort and initiate the peace talks, that does not mean that we cannot provide resources. Material and technical resources are often needed. Money is needed to organize meetings and seek out the expertise required.
    Traditionally, Canada has provided great expertise on how to bring people to the negotiation table, conduct negotiations and ensure that women are involved in the peace process. Women are key players in any peace process. A peace process cannot truly succeed without the participation of women. Canada can contribute its expertise, its voice and its resources. We can really get involved. I think that it is our duty and moral obligation to do so.
    Situation in the Republic of South Sudan
    and#65532;Government Orders 6:45 p.m.
    Liberal
    Kirsty Duncan Etobicoke North, ON
    and#65532;11
    and#65532;Mr. Chair, South Sudan faces three concurrent crises, with an ongoing conflict, an acute humanitarian crisis, and a chronic food and security problem.
    There are differing stories as to what started the conflict. President Salva Kiir claimed that former vice-president Riek Machar had attempted a coup. Machar claimed that the president was attempting to get rid of the opposition. After five weeks of fighting, an agreement on the cessation of hostilities, or COH, was signed on January 23, 2014 between the government and opposition forces, but both sides have repeatedly violated the COH. Talks between the government and opposition forces in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa have been on and off for weeks. Heavy fighting resumed on February 18, when ethnic clashes occurred inside a UN compound, causing 2,000 of 20,000 civilians to flee.
    The political divisions within South Sudan have resulted in heavy fighting and mass atrocities committed by rival pro and anti-government forces, and ethnic mobilization
    and#65532;threatens wider inter-communal violence. In fact, there has been a serious escalation in violence over the past two weeks. The UN reported that over 400 people were killed in Bentiu on April 15. Civilians were targeted on the basis of their ethnicity and nationality. This incident has been described as “a game-changer”. Radio stations were used to broadcast hate speech, urging men to rape women of specific ethnicities and demanding that rival groups to be expelled from the town.
    Because of the ongoing security concerns and the lack of personnel, the United Nations Mission in the Republic of South Sudan, or UNMISS, is facing challenges to effectively protecting civilians outside their bases. Another violent attack on civilians occurred in the UNMISS camp in Bor on April 17. Over 40 people were killed, and many others were wounded.
    The increase in violence is causing significant protection risks for civilians and further displacement. A rapid influx of 21,000 civilians have sought refuge in the base in just 48 hours. Many children have been lost or separated from family members, so they are particularly vulnerable, and women and girls are vulnerable to sexual and gender-based violence. Overcrowding means an increased risk of disease and competition for lifesaving assistance.
    South Sudan is a level 3 humanitarian emergency. Violence has displaced over one million people, 923,000 within the country, more than half of them children, and 300,000 people have fled to neighbouring countries. The current crisis response plan calls for $1.27 billion U.S. for relief programs in the coming months. To date, the plan is only 39% funded.
    Livelihoods as well as regular development assistance have been disrupted, households
    and#65532;looted, and markets destroyed. As a result, more than 3.7 million people are at risk of food insecurity as well as acute malnutrition and disease. According to UNICEF's representative in the country, “Children and families in South Sudan are now facing unprecedented suffering—with worrying signs of malnutrition and disease outbreaks”.
    Before the outbreak of fighting, basic humanitarian indicators showed South Sudanese children to be some of the most vulnerable children in the world. Today, the youngest citizens of South Sudan are suffering the most from rising levels of malnutrition and increasing violence. Children's schools are often occupied by warring sides, with enrolment rates dropping significantly. World Vision's national director has said:
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    and#65532;Children in particular have been deeply affected by the sights of death, destruction, and rape.... South Sudan is quickly becoming a place where children cannot find safety anywhere.
    With the rainy season imminent, the situation will only get worse. Lifesaving supplies must be deployed to the hardest to reach in order to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Air drops are taking place, and famine is probable.
    The United Nations fears that South Sudan is, quote, “imploding”, but with so many crises around the world, the world's newest country is getting scant media attention. With the recent increases in violence, the international community has sharpened the tone of its condemnation.
    Despite Canada's commitment to focus on “helping to set the conditions for long-term
    and#65532;peace, stability and prosperity” in South Sudan, the government let the months of February and March pass before making public statements.
    On March 25, 2014, the United States announced $83 million in additional humanitarian assistance to the people of South Sudan, for a total of $411 million for fiscal years 2013-14. On April 1, 2014, Canada's Minister of International Development and Minister for La Francophonie announced $25.8 million of humanitarian assistance to South Sudan through its annual DFATD's consolidated appeals process.
    I have two questions. How much additional money was allocated in the chronic round because of increased needs? How much of this money would have been allocated even without the current crisis?
    In addition, the government has a long-term commitment of $51.5 million for food security and livelihood support, and we thank the minister.
    Canadian members of Parliament should be aware of the worsening situation. To this end, I invited my Conservative and NDP colleagues to co-host a briefing with me for all parliamentarians on South Sudan. We heard from Meand#769;decins Sans Frontieand#768;res, UNICEF, and World Vision.
    The House of Commons foreign affairs and international development committees should undertake a study to follow up on this last report, and I thank all parties for agreeing to my request for tonight's take note debate.
    Both sides of the conflict need to fully abide by the commitments made under the COH agreement and to continue to engage to resolve the crisis. Major international supporters
    and#65532;should assist in mediation by facilitating the monitoring and verification mechanism of the COH and providing support to UNMISS. All perpetrators of mass atrocities must be held accountable, and a comprehensive strategy for ethnic and political reconciliation must be put in place.
    How is the Government of Canada engaging at the political level? Will the Government of Canada support the peace talks in Addis Ababa by offering mediators to the warring parties and other stakeholders? Will it support civil society coalitions that are working for reconciliation inside South Sudan? How will the Government of Canada continue to monitor humanitarian needs and respond in a timely fashion to the changing needs on the ground?
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    and#65532;Will the government consider support to UNMISS to protect civilians, especially women and children, from violence? Will the government encourage the UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict to travel to South Sudan and request a report to the UN Security Council on the situation of children in South Sudan, highlighting grave violations? Will the government request that the African Union have child protection specialists on the commission of inquiry into human rights violations?
    While the government has given significantly in the past, its approach needs to be rethought and needs to take into consideration the long-term problems caused by the civil conflict begun in December 2013.
    Each of us in this House has a role to play. Let us engage with South Sudanese parliamentarians through the Canada-Africa Parliamentary Association and share in our
    and#65532;constituencies what is going on.
    If the violence does not stop, South Sudan could slip further into ethnic conflict, with a risk of disintegration and the potential for regional disaster. The Central African Republic and Somalia remain embroiled in civil war. Eritrea is under dictatorship, and Sudan is on the verge of economic collapse.
    The international community is struggling to find a coherent way to respond to a rapidly deteriorating and changing context. It is essential to remember lessons learned from earlier crises, to act immediately and at the scale necessary to prevent a much larger disaster. Canada must remain engaged in keeping South Sudan at the forefront of international attention.
    Situation in the Republic of South Sudan
    Government Orders 6:55 p.m.
    NDP
    Heand#769;leand#768;ne Laverdieand#768;re Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC
    Mr. Chair, first, I would like to thank my hon. colleague for her speech and for the collegial
    and#65532;and#65532;work that we have been able to do together on such an important issue.
    The root causes of this situation include poverty, marginalization, a lack of opportunity— and, often, a lack of future—and ethnic tensions. How can Canada structure its international development policy in order to try to deal with these problems before they occur?
    Situation in the Republic of South Sudan
    Government Orders 7 p.m.
    Liberal
    14
    and#65532;and#65532;Kirsty Duncan Etobicoke North, ON
    Mr. Chair, I would like to thank my colleague. I enjoy working with her very much. I think we
    have done good work together, and there is much more to be done. I would like to highlight what the member pointed out.
    Before the conflict, people should know that 2.4 million people in South Sudan were food insecure and required assistance; 230,000 children were impacted annually by malnutrition,
    and#65532;even during strong harvest seasons; and only 4% of arable land was cultivated. Only 10% of the children completed primary school, despite high enrolment rates of 1.4 million, and 84% of the women could not read or write. One in seven children died before their fifth birthday, only 10% of deliveries were attended by skilled birth attendants, and only 40% of the people were estimated to have access to health services.
    We need to respond to what is happening now. As my colleague pointed out, we need a strategy for the medium term and we need to work at the long term. We need to look at these different scales.
    I want to point out that now, adding conflict and possible war crimes, 21,000 people were displaced in 48 hours. There is overcrowding, competition for shelter and life-saving humanitarian aid, and an increased risk of disease and infection.
    We have to stand by the people of South Sudan. We have to do more.
    Situation in the Republic of South Sudan
    Government Orders 7 p.m. Conservative
    and#65532;and#65532;Gary Schellenberger Perth—Wellington, ON
    Mr. Chair, I am thankful for the opportunity to participate in this debate.
    Canada has always played an important role in responding to global crises and tragedy. With appropriate, timely, and effective assistance, our contributions aim to save lives, alleviate suffering, and maintain the dignity of those affected by conflicts and natural disasters.
    As we know, politically motivated violence and ethnic conflict have gripped South Sudan for more than four months. If the poignant images alone have not been enough to make us want to help, the number of casualties and victims makes it clear that we must.
    15
    and#65532;It is estimated that between 10,000 and 40,000 people have died in the violence. Today some 817,000 South Sudanese are displaced within the country, and over 270,000 have fled as refugees to Kenya, Ethiopia, Sudan, and Uganda.
    It is impossible for us to understand what it must be like to be so afraid and so desperate that the only hope is to flee one's home and leave everything behind, yet that is reality for thousands of South Sudanese civilians, people who just three short years ago voted overwhelmingly for independence and rejoiced in the birth of their new nation.
    South Sudan's new beginning formally ended 22 years of civil war that caused the country to have some of the worst development and humanitarian indicators in the world. An estimated 90% of the country's 10.8 million people live below the poverty line. An estimated seven million people in South Sudan are at risk of food insecurity. The maternal mortality rate is among the highest in the world: for every 100,000 births, over 2,000 mothers die.
    and#65532;The child mortality rate is no better, with 106 deaths for every 1,000 live births.
    These are some of South Sudan's regular development challenges, the challenges that made Canada want to invest development dollars there in the first place. They are among the reasons that our development programming in South Sudan centres on saving the lives of mothers and children and on improving agricultural capabilities so that people can get the food they need and earn a living off the land.
    Now South Sudan faces challenges of another kind. The conflict has caused the country to plunge deeper into instability, and that concerns us.
    We worry for South Sudan's political and economic health, already fragile to begin with. We worry for its people, already struggling to overcome the challenges they face.
    In response to the dramatically increasing needs and the international humanitarian system that has ranked South Sudan among the highest priorities, United Nations agencies and international NGOs have ramped up their presence and widened their operations considerably throughout the country.
    Overall, despite being hindered in their efforts to assist people by the continuing insecurity and #####ng, humanitarian agencies are increasing their capabilities and responses to the crisis. They are particularly focused on strengthening responses outside of the capital, Juba, where there have been considerable unmet needs.
    During this crisis, Canada once again stepped up its humanitarian efforts as part of the international community. On April 1, the Minister of International Development announced nearly $25 million in new funding in response to 2014 appeals from the United
    and#65532;Nations, the International Red Cross movement, and Canadian non-governmental organizations. The money will help to get people the food they need, put a roof over their head, give them increased access to safe drinking water and sanitation facilities and, for the ill or wounded, access to emergency medical care.
    We hope that our efforts, in co-operation with those of our friends and partners, will contribute to putting an end to this spiralling violence and ensure a calm and peaceful transition process in South Sudan.
    Recipients of our funding have included the United Nations World Food Programme, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, the UN Humanitarian Air Service, the International Committee of the Red Cross, the International Organization for Migration, the Office for the
    16
    and#65532;Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, World Relief Canada, Meand#769;decins Sans Frontieand#768;res Canada, and World Vision Canada. Based on assessments, these organizations are best positioned to ensure that people are physically safe and receive proper health care, and that they have food, water, and shelter. It is worth pointing out that their work is not easy. A humanitarian mission never is, particularly not under a black cloud of violence as is the case in South Sudan.
    In January, Valerie Amos, the UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, said that thousands of South Sudanese were going without help because of interference in humanitarian activities. That should never happen. Intentionally preventing access to life-saving assistance is deplorable, much like acts of violence against those working to keep civilians safe. Since the conflict began, three humanitarian workers have been killed, caught in the crosshairs of a conflict had that
    and#65532;nothing to do with them or with an overwhelming majority of South Sudanese. Canada condemns such cowardly attacks, and calls for full, safe, and unhindered access for humanitarian organizations in South Sudan and in all other places where humanitarian workers are engaged in life-saving activity.
    Few places are more challenging for aid workers than South Sudan. In another few weeks, the rainy season will begin, cutting off up to 60% of the country. Road access in key locations of humanitarian response is minimal or impossible from May until November. Canada has offered considerable support since the conflict began, and will continue to pay close attention to ensure that we are doing everything we can to keep South Sudan civilians safe from this crisis.
    Situation in the Republic of South Sudan
    Government Orders 7:10 p.m.
    NDP
    Paul Dewar Ottawa Centre, ON
    Mr. Chair, I thank my colleague, who sits on the foreign affairs committee, for his
    and#65532;and#65532;intervention.
    It is with great alarm and sadness and with concern around the recent events in the whole area that we have been discussing, that I posed some questions on the Central African Republic, concerns about what we have been hearing in Burundi and of course South Sudan. We had done a study on South Sudan just before the elections, in the last Parliament. One of the things we underlined was the need for Canada to stay engaged. We had been involved in the 2005 peace agreement and accord but it was very clear at the time, before full independence, that South Sudan would need our support.
    My question for my colleague across the way is this. At a time when things are so fragile and with a nascent country, the newest country that we have seen formed in the last number of years in the family of nations, would the member not agree with me that we really
    17
    and#65532;do need to game up, that we need to provide more support, both in governance and in security, and ensure that we do not take our eyes off? I am concerned, as many are, that we had a strong commitment before, but since we have seen the Sudan task force basically dissolve, there have been concerns about what our short-term and long-term commitments are. I would just like to get his comments on that.
    Situation in the Republic of South Sudan
    Government Orders 7:10 p.m. Conservative
    and#65532;and#65532;Gary Schellenberger Perth—Wellington, ON
    Mr. Chair, Canada is concerned with the humanitarian situation in South Sudan. We all know that. We are deeply concerned by the reports of ethnically targeted violence. Canada calls for the perpetrators of those crimes to be identified and brought to justice.
    The government is providing life-saving food, water, sanitation, medical assistance, emergency shelter, and protection for those in need. Canada is providing emergency food assistance to 2.3 million food-insecure people throughout the country, providing access to over one million people across South Sudan to improve sanitation and safe water, helping 80,700 pregnant women access antenatal care, and building a new maternity ward in eastern South Sudan to provide 24-hour emergency obstetric and newborn care services.
    Canada is very concerned by the deteriorating situation in South Sudan. Canada condemns these acts in the strongest possible terms. We call on all parties to immediately allow for the safe passage of humanitarian assistance to those to whom it is intended. We will continue to monitor the situation very closely.
    Situation in the Republic of South Sudan
    Government Orders 7:10 p.m.
    Liberal
    and#65532;and#65532;Kirsty Duncan Etobicoke North, ON
    Mr. Chair, I would like to reiterate, I really hope foreign affairs will do a study regarding South Sudan.
    18
    and#65532;To my hon. colleague, will the government consider increasing support to UNMISS beyond its assessed and voluntary contributions to the UN to protect civilians, especially women and children, from violence? For example, the government has previously funded protection of civilian capacity for the UN operation in the DRC. Will it consider doing the same for South Sudan? Also, will the government adjust and renew its long-term development programming?
    Situation in the Republic of South Sudan
    Government Orders 7:10 p.m. Conservative
    and#65532;and#65532;Gary Schellenberger Perth—Wellington, ON
    Mr. Chair, I will answer that the best I can. I know that we have recently put more money into the UN and as time goes on we are monitoring the situation very closely. I am quite sure, along with our allies and UN commitments, we will be there for the people of South Sudan.
    Situation in the Republic of South Sudan
    Government Orders 7:15 p.m.
    NDP
    Paul Dewar Ottawa Centre, ON
    Mr. Chair, along with the disturbing, horrific reports we have had just a week ago, we know that there are ethnic tensions. We know there has been a manipulation of ethnicity and that
    and#65532;and#65532;this is something that will only be dealt with if there is strong international support, not just what we have had in the past, but what is required clearly for the short and medium term.
    I appreciate that my colleague is not the minister and he cannot speak for the government that way. I appreciate that and I am not trying to corner him. However, I get the impression after we have heard the really disturbing reports, which were difficult to watch if anyone saw the news reports recently, the kinds of things we are seeing are a much smaller scale of what happened 20 years ago in Rwanda. There is targeting of people and the use of violence in a very perverted way.
    Would he not agree at least that we really need to have another look at what is happening right now, in real time, in South Sudan, in light of the fact that we have a historical past?
    19
    and#65532;The Government of Canada has done a lot of good work there, this government and previous governments. Would he not agree that we really need to look at some ways that we can deal with this most recent situation? I am just talking to him as a member across the way, a member of the foreign affairs committee. Perhaps we should look at some other recommendations to game up, as they say, to deal with the present situation, which is very dangerous.
    Situation in the Republic of South Sudan
    Government Orders 7:15 p.m. Conservative
    and#65532;and#65532;Gary Schellenberger Perth—Wellington, ON
    Mr. Chair, I do know that it has been put very plainly that Africans like most problems in Africa to be solved by Africans. I have heard that over the last number of years. They want to see African forces, or African forces want to go in to some of these situations to help them make them work. As our parliamentary secretary said, he sits with the African Union at various times. He goes to its meetings to help give guidance and to make sure that we can perhaps work together to make these atrocities go away.
    It will not happen overnight, I am quite sure, but I feel that our government is working very hard, along with the people in the UN and the African forces to make sure that we can try to bring an end to this violence in South Sudan.
    Situation in the Republic of South Sudan
    Government Orders 7:15 p.m.
    Liberal
    and#65532;and#65532;Kirsty Duncan Etobicoke North, ON
    Mr. Chair, again, I would really like to thank everybody for being here tonight.
    I would also like to raise what my colleague from the NDP was talking about. He said that the UN initially said that 200 died in Bentiu, and now we know that it is 400 in the last weeks. According to the monitoring and reporting mechanism on grave violations against children, of which Canada is a key supporter, since the conflict began in December, 2013, and through to April, the UN received more reports of grave child rights violations in armed
    20
    and#65532;conflict in South Sudan than it did for all of 2013. It has affected over 22,000 boys and girls through injuries, rape, death, and recruitment into armed forces.
    I wonder if the government will encourage the UN Special Representative of the Secretary- General for Children and Armed Conflict to travel to South Sudan and request a report to the UN Security Council on the situation of children in South Sudan? There have been 22,000 affected between December and April. The children cannot wait.
    Situation in the Republic of South Sudan
    Government Orders 7:15 p.m. Conservative
    and#65532;and#65532;Gary Schellenberger Perth—Wellington, ON
    Mr. Chair, I know a group from London, Ontario, that is quite involved in South Sudan and in an agriculture venture there. It was just getting things to a point where it was able to produce more than enough grain to feed its people and sell some of the other products. I am quite sure that we have people on the ground. These people are not really NGOs, but they are doing it on their own with no government support. It has been a great situation that has been working well.
    I do not know whether they are affected. They are near the Nile. I do not know if they are affected that far away, but I am sure that the minister and our government will be putting as many resources and as much of a push on the issue in South Sudan as we can.
    Situation in the Republic of South Sudan
    Government Orders 7:20 p.m.
    NDP
    and#65532;and#65532;Paul Dewar Ottawa Centre, ON
    Mr. Chair, I rise tonight to provide some input from the New Democratic Party on what we
    think is important for all of us to be seized with about South Sudan.
    I remember very well my first year as a member of Parliament. Some of the most important debates we had here were around Afghanistan, but the other issue we were seized with was what was happening in Sudan. At the time, it was not divided into the two countries. I will never forget, as a new MP, being quite taken with the fact that there were things we
    21
    and#65532;were doing in Sudan at the time, but there was a deep crisis in Darfur, the situation in Darfur that many have said was like a genocide in slow motion.
    We really pushed to have more done. At the time, we were pushing for more lift capacity, helicopters, to support the United Nations mission, and we wanted to have the government seized with the issue. In fact there was some good work done and the government did provide some resources, albeit we wanted more, but I must acknowledge that the Conservatives did support the mission and focused on Darfur at the time. We believed more lift capacity was available and they could have used it, but anyhow.
    I say that because at the time we were all looking toward a resolution of the conflict and looked at the 2005 peace accord, to which Canada was a major contributor, and we had the development into a separate country. This was very exciting. There were many people concerned at the time that we would not see a successful partition and the creation of a new
    and#65532;country.
    However, as I just said in my question to my colleague across the way, at the time just before the creation of the new country of South Sudan, the foreign affairs committee—of which I was a member at the time, before the last Canadian election—had warned that there would be a need to stay with the Sudanese, to stay engaged, to make sure that, just because a new country had been created, it did not mean we could walk away.
    We have been concerned that the Sudan task force that was set up to help in the Department of Foreign Affairs simply was dissolved at the very time when there was a need to stay with the South Sudanese and governance and making sure this new nascent country was going to be successful, to help it with economic development, to help it with basic governance, to make sure there would not be this kind of cleavage, ethnically speaking, or there would not be the external threats from Sudan in the north. Not that we predicted these exact events that just happened, but we did know and predict that there would be a need for support, and many other countries have noted that.
    I have already mentioned the deep concern I and many of us have with what is happening in the region. Of course, there is CAR, the Central African Republic, and concerns about some of the reports coming out of Burundi, but what we heard this past week about the massacres in South Sudan clearly underlined and underscored the need for the world community to take action.
    It is important and instructive to look at what some of the agencies are saying on the ground. Meand#769;decins Sans Frontieand#768;res has been very clear about the need for additional support, and I know the parliamentary secretary stood in the House to acknowledge the loss
    and#65532;of humanitarian workers. I thank her for that. In doing so, we need to acknowledge their loss but also what they are asking us to do. They are asking us to scale up humanitarian aid. Meand#769;decins Sans Frontieand#768;res is very focused and does some extraordinarily good work in very dangerous, precarious situations. It wants us to scale up aid and make sure there is going to be support for that. In this take note debate forum, we want to talk about ideas, and it is a good idea to scale up the aid and look at how we can help.
    We have to take a look at how the UN is working and how these agencies are co-ordinated on the ground. That is something it has pointed out. The humanitarian aid must remain independent and impartial, so that the humanitarian organizations can gain access at this point. This is a conflict, and in a conflict it is imperative that there are clear lines and avenues for aid to get to the people. That is why it believes it is important to have the aid go
    22
    and#65532;through these independent actors, so that it can get to the people who need it and that it will be impartial.
    We also need to look at these recent crises that have happened and how the Government of Canada can assist the UN to restore credibility by calling for the establishment of an independent humanitarian coordinator. This is very important, because, as I mentioned before, South Sudan right now is not able to govern itself independently. Why? It is a nascent government. It does not have the infrastructure in place. It is a smart thing that Meand#769;decins Sans Frontieand#768;res is saying, which is to have the humanitarian coordinator deal with what is happening on the ground, deal with capacities.
    It also points out that the Government of Canada can demand that both parties of the conflict uphold their obligations under the international humanitarian law to directly provide or allow for the provision of humanitarian aid to all people during the conflict. This is really
    and#65532;important, because then the international community is saying to both sides of the conflict that their role here is very clear under the international law and they must allow for the provision of humanitarian assistance. It is something we can do and we must do, and I would urge the Minister of Foreign Affairs to engage in that light.
    There is widespread hunger because of this conflict among people who have nothing to do with the conflict, who are not on either side but are affected by it. This, of course, breeds more misery. We have seen some of the estimates that have come out. An estimated 7 million people right now are at risk of food insecurity. We know how that can happen very quickly if left unattended. The United States is likely to keep up support in the Upper Nile, but we have problems in parts that we just cannot reach right now because of the conflict. We have to work with our partners in this. South Sudanese people should be planting right now, but they are not able to because of the conflict.
    These are all things that we could be doing. Meand#769;decins Sans Frontieand#768;res has been helpful in its very specific recommendations.
    The other aspect of this that we have to look at is the neighbourhood. There are a lot of pressures on South Sudan. We know about the north. We have to see that there is going to be support that South Sudan will receive from people in the neighbourhood. That is going to be helpful. We have to see “do no harm” from those in the north who, in the past, have been belligerent in affecting people.
    Right now, we need to support the UN mission. The United Nations mission in South Sudan is hosting about 70,000 civilians who are fleeing ethnic reprisals. Right now, it is very under- resourced. It needs more resources, frankly. The UN mission in South Sudan needs more
    and#65532;support. This is something that Canada can consider supporting. I am not talking about troops for a peacekeeping mission, as I said today in the House, but certainly support that can help.
    Let me give members a couple of ideas. This is from the International Crisis Group. I will maybe get into this in the questions and answers. It said:
    To the UN Security Council:
    1. Amend the mandate of the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) to ensure it is consistent across the country—
    23
    and#65532;This is what I mentioned. There is a need for support in different places, because places are isolated. It goes on to say that the mandate should be amended so that it:
    ...emphasises protection of civilians, human rights reporting, support for the Inter- Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) mediation process and logistical help for the African Union (AU) Commission of Inquiry.
    This is to find out exactly what happened here.
    I will quote one more bit before my time is up.
    The second recommendation from the crisis group is:
    2. Signal clearly that leaders will be held responsible for the actions of troops they command, and any interference with UNMISS and humanitarian operations may give rise to
    and#65532;targeted sanctions.
    I will finish with the third recommendation, which is:
    3. Ensure that any support provided to an IGAD or other regional force is consistent with and does not undermine UNMISS’ ability to carry out its mandated tasks, particularly its protection of civilians responsibilities.
    Kirsty Duncan Etobicoke North, ON
    Mr. Chair, I would like to thank my colleague for his thoughtful speech and the new ideas he
    has brought to the debate.
    Since signing a comprehensive peace agreement with Sudan in 2005 and becoming independent in 2011, South Sudan has not undergone a much-needed process of reconciliation. There are deep-seated ethnic grievances, which will need to be addressed in order for South Sudan to avoid a repeated escalation of violence, and now we see UNMISS's bases have been specifically targeted.
    I wonder what the member thinks Canada could contribute to the peace and reconciliation efforts.
    and#65532;and#65532;Situation in the Republic of South Sudan
    Government Orders 7:30 p.m.
    NDP
    Paul Dewar Ottawa Centre, ON
    and#65532;24
    and#65532;Mr. Chair, I think that, first of all, we have to communicate to all parties. This is not just Canada, of course. This is a collective responsibility in the international community. We have to effectively communicate to all parties that it is absolutely clear that their responsibility is to protect civilians. That is the first and immediate thing. The longer term will touch on what the member has mentioned.
    I think there is a need to establish three separate negotiation tracks, focused on the SPLM, which would be one track, the armed groups, and communal conflict, tracks that are appropriately sequenced, and contribute to the broader piece of national political dialogue.
    If we are able to kind of separate into three tracks the immediate protection and then the longer-term negotiations, looking at the role of the SPLM, the other armed groups, and the kind of communal conflicts that are happening, we can then get to the final stage, which is
    and#65532;what the member has touched on, to look at some form of reconciliation.
    This is something that will be more difficult, but important. It is something on which we can work with our partners after we have dealt with the short term, such as I have just laid out, the SPLM, the armed groups, and what is happening in some of these communal conflicts, which are the three tracks that are there. The international community must then focus on working together to look at reconciliation, which would provide the basis for South Sudan to be able to be truly independent, and not just in name but in governance.
    Situation in the Republic of South Sudan
    Government Orders 7:35 p.m.
    Newmarket—Aurora Ontario
    Conservative
    Lois Brown Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Development
    Mr. Chair, first of all, I would like to thank my colleague for his concern for South Sudan. I had the opportunity to be in South Sudan two years ago at a time when the Jonglei
    and#65532;and#65532;province was of particular concern. Fortunately, much of the conflict in the north had been somewhat settled at that point in time, but obviously there were concerns around the Jonglei province in particular, which is still where a lot of the conflict is taking place.
    Given that we have organizations in Africa like the African Union, the African Commission, ECOWAS, IGAD, and SADC, I wonder if my colleague has any thought on how they might participate in helping to find resolution.
    There are cultural issues that are very sensitive. We know that. There are geographic considerations that are very sensitive.
    25
    and#65532;I wonder if my colleague has any thoughts on how the African organizations themselves can help to negotiate some of this much-needed conflict resolution.
    Situation in the Republic of South Sudan
    Government Orders 7:35 p.m.
    NDP
    and#65532;and#65532;Paul Dewar Ottawa Centre, ON
    Mr. Chair, that is a great question. What we need to do is provide support, as we have done with other countries. Guatemala comes to mind, when it was dealing with the horrific mass atrocities in the 1980s.
    The AU Commission of Inquiry into human rights abuses will need adequate staff, adequate training, and resources to consult widely to get things functioning. That is something we can help with concretely, with all of the other partners the member mentioned.
    Make no mistake. Canada is seen as a valid partner, a wanted partner. As I said, it is with some sadness, as a matter of fact, that we disbanded the Sudanese task force, the desk within foreign affairs. It was noted just recently at committee that the funding in the last couple of years has lapsed. I do not think it is a question of resources. I think it is a question of focusing and coordinating the resources and providing the support South Sudan needs.
    We can work with all of the organizations she mentioned to provide, as I mentioned, to the AU Commission of Inquiry, something we did in Guatemala on justice and human rights protection. Our assistance would not only be welcomed but celebrated, because it is something we have done before. I gave the government credit for what it did before, as well as the previous government. It is just a matter of being consistent, carrying on, and showing that we can play a constructive role.
    Situation in the Republic of South Sudan
    Government Orders 7:35 p.m.
    and#65532;NDP
    Djaouida Sellah Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, QC
    Mr. Chair, I listened carefully, as I always do, to my colleague's speech. We are all concerned about the situation in South Sudan, of course.
    and#65532;26
    and#65532;We are asking the government to provide additional assistance, whether that means humanitarian assistance or forcing the people of South Sudan to sign a treaty for the peace and stability of the country.
    However, does my colleague think that the government should sign the treaty to prevent sales of arms, including small arms, which are often found in these conflicts, especially in African countries?
    Situation in the Republic of South Sudan
    Government Orders 7:35 p.m.
    NDP
    and#65532;and#65532;Paul Dewar Ottawa Centre, ON
    Mr. Chair, what the member is getting at is the arms trade treaty. We are still waiting for the government to formally respond as to whether it is going to sign the treaty. I note that all of our allies have done this, including the United States, the U.K., and Australia. I say that because it is related. The arms trade treaty was negotiated to deal with the trade of illegal arms and arms sales, particularly small arms. Small arms in Africa have been noted as the arms of mass destruction, because they have done so much damage. They have flooded into the region, particularly the Sahel but also the area we are talking about.
    While I am on my feet, I will say that we should not only sign the arms trade treaty to send the right message that we are serious about armed conflict. A really smart idea, again coming from the crisis group, is the idea of establishing a contact group. We have seen this method used before. The AU would be part of it, the UN, the U.S., the U.K., Norway, the European Union, China, South Africa, and maybe even Canada. I think that would be supportive. I say maybe even Canada, because I think the government needs to start to take those leadership opportunities when they arise.
    I am getting the sense from the other side, in the case of CAR and in the case of Sudan, and I heard it from one of the members earlier, that because we are not within the continent, and as was said before, it should be an African solution, we should not take part. Maybe we
    and#65532;just happen to disagree. Clearly it is not about us dictating terms. I see my colleague shaking her head. I think she would agree that we need to be involved.
    I would like it clarified by the government how we are involved. It is difficult to see the progress in terms of engagement in Africa when we have disbanded the Sudanese task force, when we have seen a lapse in funding, money Parliament appropriated to the Department of Foreign Affairs, to CIDA, that is not being invested.
    This is not about saving money and good administration. This is about hundreds of millions of dollars that were entrusted to the government to invest in its priorities. That is how the process works.
    27
    and#65532;There are ideas we are putting forward here tonight. The government will have its own ideas and consult within its own departments. We need to see our country step up in Africa right now, because there is crisis in the Sahel, in the Central African Republic, and in Sudan. It would be applauded by everyone in this House. It would be supported. It would also be something that would make a difference, clearly in the case of Sudan and clearly in the case of the Central African Republic. Finally, I think Canadians would want to see us do it.
    For all those reasons, I plead with the government to look at their strategy in Africa. If it wants to do things differently, fine, but let us get going on this, because people are asking for our help, and we need to be there.
    Situation in the Republic of South Sudan
    and#65532;Government Orders 7:40 p.m. Conservative
    Mike Wallace Burlington, ON
    Mr. Chairman, I am honoured to have this opportunity to address food security in South Sudan and what Canada is doing to help get food to those who need it most. I want to speak to both the immediate humanitarian need for food and why food security and agriculture are the most viable long-term solutions to poverty and poor nutrition and a potential linchpin for the economy of South Sudan.
    As some members may recall, South Sudan first gained independence on July 9, 2011, six months after the South Sudanese overwhelmingly voted in favour of seceding from Sudan through a peaceful referendum. However, this forced an uneasy peace in a country whose people were more familiar with responding to violence than with building stable futures for themselves and their children.
    Improving food security is an important key to building a better and more peaceful future in the wake of the damage and destruction inflicted by 22 years of civil war, which claimed an estimated two million lives and left four million people without homes.
    and#65532;and#65532;In December 2013, South Sudan was plunged into crisis yet again, this time as the result of ethnic and political tension within the new country. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs estimates that since December 2013, the conflict has forced more than one million people from their homes, including more than 800,000 people within South Sudan. An estimated 250,000 people have fled to the neighbouring countries of Kenya, Uganda, Sudan, and Ethiopia.
    At the time South Sudan separated from Sudan, its oil potential offered the prospect of a prosperous economic future that would benefit all, including the poor. However, too much dependence on oil for government revenues has proven to be a problem and the source of
    28
    and#65532;many tensions with neighbouring Sudan. For over a year, South Sudan ceased oil production, with severe consequences for the economy, including inflation.
    Let me say what the people of South Sudan are up against. First, South Sudan is a new country, where the majority are young people. More than 70% of the population is under the age of 30. Their lives are a constant battle for survival in the face of impossible odds. The country has some of the worst development and humanitarian indicators in the world, with 90% of the country, nearly 11 million people, living below the national poverty line. Almost half of South Sudanese do not have enough to eat, and nearly a quarter of the population relies on food aid. This year, up to seven million people are likely to experience some form of food insecurity because of this crisis. Half the population does not have access to clean drinking water.
    A majority of the country's people live in rural areas, and most households depend on small-
    and#65532;scale crop farming or animal husbandry as their main sources of income. South Sudan's small-scale farmers lack access to credit and land because of the absence of laws on property rights and land tenure, which keeps them from expanding their production. Women, who provide most of the labour in agricultural production, are doubly disadvantaged because of gender inequality.
    Although a remarkable 90% of the land in the country is suitable for farming, less than 5% of it is cultivated. In fact, South Sudan imports half of its food from neighbouring countries, chiefly Kenya and Uganda. Nevertheless, South Sudan has made significant development advances since the civil war between Sudan and South Sudan ended.
    Over the last five years, food production has increased by 22%. Just before the conflict broke out in December 2013, national food security was the best it had been in over five years. These are some of the reasons the government of South Sudan is looking to agriculture to help it turn things around. The agriculture sector is still South Sudan's best option for economic growth and diversification. In the meantime, humanitarian assistance will continue to be needed and may increase because of the armed conflict, which has affected the normal planting season.
    While Canada is concerned with the worsening humanitarian situation in South Sudan, we remain committed to South Sudan's development as a new country. Most of our development initiatives in South Sudan are ongoing, even though we certainly have had to adopt some of these because of the current conflict. In our programs in South Sudan, Canada's approach tries to balance humanitarian assistance for the immediate situation with the long-term development programs that focus primarily on food security and
    and#65532;agriculture.
    For maternal, newborn and child health, as well as advancing democracy, Canada is among the top bilateral donors to that country. In 2012-13, the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development provided a total of $84.9 million to South Sudan for development and humanitarian assistance.
    Our main focus in food security includes building smallholder farms to meet immediate food security needs as well as initiating market access to improve livelihoods. Canada has particular expertise to offer in year-round farming of fruits, vegetables, as well as in the fisheries. All of these could help to bridge the current gap between growing seasons and feed the farmers as well as the rest of the population throughout the year.
    29
    and#65532;At present, we are working through UN agencies such as the World Food Programme and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations as well as Canadian NGOs like the Canadian Red Cross.
    Through these organizations, Canada is supporting farmer training and providing agricultural supplies such as seeds and tools to communities so they can plant basic crops to boost food production, a dire need in the current crisis.
    We are achieving good results. For example, support to the Canadian Red Cross has increased food production for 14,000 individuals in the eastern part of the state. One woman the project helped was recently awarded the title of “best farmer” in her state. We are really changing individual lives through Canadian assistance.
    Despite these gains, food shortages and the displacement of more than one million people
    and#65532;have placed South Sudan at risk of famine this year. To address this situation, on April 1, Canada announced funding of nearly $25 million to address humanitarian needs arising from the current conflict. This funding is being used to help meet food, shelter, emergency medical care, safe drinking water and sanitation facilities and the protection of the most vulnerable people, especially refugees and displaced people.
    In addition, Canada announced new funding of $51.5 million to support food production and develop livelihoods, so South Sudanese could continue to produce food and work toward self-sufficiency. This will also make farmers more resilient in times of crisis. This funding includes support to both displaced populations and their host communities to help avert a potential famine as a result of the crisis.
    It is hard for Canadians with all our highways to imagine, but South Sudan has only 300 kilometres of paved roads in the entire country. Through the World Food Programme's efforts, Canada is helping to build 140 kilometres of roads that will ease delivery of humanitarian assistance and help bring agricultural goods from farms to markets.
    The WFP's activities will also build irrigation networks and food storage facilities, as well as meet the immediate food needs of up to 450,000 people through a food for work program. Already, Canadian support has helped WFP to reach 56,940 people through this program.
    Our support will improve fisheries through the United Nations Industrial Development Organization's five-year program, which will help fish folk living along the Nile River, especially women, to increase their harvest and improve their livelihood.
    Overall, Canada's food security projects are helping to diversify and increase the production of nutritious foods and expand agricultural opportunities in one of the poorest countries on
    and#65532;earth. Although there are risks, the risk of doing nothing is even greater.
    Through these investments, we are helping South Sudan to make the transition from aid dependence to self-sufficiency in the long term, while meeting the urgent food needs of the people of South Sudan.
    Situation in the Republic of South Sudan
    Government Orders 7:50 p.m.
    Liberal
    30
    and#65532;and#65532;Kirsty Duncan Etobicoke North, ON
    Mr. Chair, I would like to thank the hon. member for his focus on food security. There is a looming malnutrition crisis. UNICEF is warning dangerous levels of malnutrition threaten one-quarter million children and unless they are urgently reached with treatment, up to 50,000 children under age five could die this year.
    With the rainy season and the ongoing insecurity, travelling by road is nearly impossible, making delivery of aid by air the most secure but also very expensive. I am wondering will
    and#65532;the government encourage other donors to step up their funding for South Sudan, respond to changing needs on the ground and call on all parties for unimpeded humanitarian access so humanitarian organizations can reach the children in need.
    Situation in the Republic of South Sudan
    Government Orders 7:50 p.m. Conservative
    Mike Wallace Burlington, ON
    Mr. Chair, before I answer the question, as a member of Parliament from a relatively affluent community of Burlington, I have been told, in terms of grocery sales, that we are one of the top per capita in the country. We have a tremendous amount of food and it is hard for me and people from my riding to understand the actual needs of other countries, including South Sudan.
    I use what is happening in Africa, in South Sudan, as an example when I am asked by constituents why we send aid around the world when we have our own issues here. My point to them is that they have no idea what life is really like in other parts of the world and
    and#65532;and#65532;Canada has a responsibility to be there, in this case, as I indicated in my speech, with humanitarian aid and food security.
    To the point of my colleague, Canada cannot do it alone. We need our partners from around the world, whether they are NGOs or other countries, to understand and deliver what is really needed on the ground so people have food security and other basic needs, so they can progress, make a difference and develop a new country. The other issues take a back seat to famine and health when there is no help. That is why we are helping and why we as a government have been encouraging others, and are going to continue to encourage others, to help the people from South Sudan.
    31
    and#65532;Situation in the Republic of South Sudan
    Government Orders 7:55 p.m.
    Newmarket—Aurora Ontario
    Conservative
    and#65532;and#65532;Lois Brown Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Development
    Mr. Chair, one of the things I was so impressed with in South Sudan when I was there was the incredible amount of arable land. The opportunity is there for South Sudan to really be a self-sufficient country.
    When I was there, I met a gentleman by the name of David Tepper. He is from Stratford, Ontario, a developer, who went over because he was told of some business opportunities in South Sudan in growing acacia berries. When he got there and saw what the land was like, he decided that he would, along with a group of people he knew from the Stratford area, develop some farmland. He is now cultivating thousands of acres of land just outside of Juba. He is growing wheat, which he is selling to the World Food Programme, which is, in turn, helping to feed many of the people in South Sudan.
    Knowing that these opportunities are there, with the expertise that Canada has, does my colleague think there are other opportunities that we might pursue there to help a real economy begin in South Sudan that would give the people a real hope and a real future?
    Situation in the Republic of South Sudan
    Government Orders 7:55 p.m. Conservative
    and#65532;and#65532;Mike Wallace Burlington, ON
    Mr. Chair, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Development does a fantastic job in her responsibilities in that area and has a true understanding of some of the issues that face other countries around the world in her position.
    I believe the point that the parliamentary secretary was making is this. For Canada and other NGOs, it is not all about sending money or sending food that is developed here or in other parts of the world and hoping it gets to the right people. As we know, there are difficulties in ensuring aid gets directly to those who actually need it.
    32
    and#65532;The point is that we in this country, as do other countries, have tremendous expertise in making individuals, organizations, families and communities more self-sufficient, so they are able to provide for themselves. On the food security side, there is no better agriculture knowledge than what we have in Canada and we need to take that knowledge and expertise and apply it to those who really need it in other countries so they can become self- sufficient, rely on themselves, and reduce their dependency on the generosity of other nations to help them develop their own democracy and self-worth as a country.
    Situation in the Republic of South Sudan
    Government Orders 7:55 p.m.
    NDP
    and#65532;and#65532;Djaouida Sellah Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, QC
    Mr. Chair, I would like to ask my colleague a question.
    Unfortunately, in all conflicts, the most vulnerable individuals are children and women. Could the member tell me whether the Government of Canada will provide funding to address gender-based violence in South Sudan?
    Situation in the Republic of South Sudan
    Government Orders 7:55 p.m. Conservative
    Mike Wallace Burlington, ON
    Mr. Chair, I would not disagree with the comment that in conflict it is often children, women
    and#65532;and#65532;and other vulnerable demographics that suffer greatly.
    The concept of allocating resources to help those individuals is a very noble one and one I think all governments, including our government, does consider. Our Prime Minister has taken leadership on maternal health issues and a number of other areas. However, where the difficulty comes is how. It is easy to talk about and allocate, but how do we deliver it to make a difference and how do we make change? That is why it needs a comprehensive approach. That is what we are doing.
    As was previously mentioned, we need other partners that want to make a difference on the ground for those vulnerable groups and suggestions that we can take up as a government.
    33
    and#65532;That is the kind of approach that is not partisan, that we can take from either side: are there ways to deliver to make a difference, not just to say we spent the money? That is the kind of approach we would like to take and the kind of input we like from the opposition, or whomever has the ideas that would make an actual difference on the ground for those vulnerable groups.
    Situation in the Republic of South Sudan
    Government Orders 8 p.m.
    Liberal
    and#65532;and#65532;Kirsty Duncan Etobicoke North, ON
    Mr. Chair, picking up on nutritional security again, this is from a joint agency food briefing,
    including CARE, Oxfam and World Vision. A 60-year-old man from Jonglei said:
    I harvested four bags of sorghum in the last season...With my family...this could have lasted me about six months. I am hosting 4 IDP households...We finished the four bags....I have no other assets to sell to buy more food and I do not know what will happen between now and the next season.
    This food crisis is very much a product of the conflict. It requires a bold response to stem the suffering of communities and to repair the fragile food security system. Will the government consider providing additional funding to partners if the needs on the ground continue to increase? Famine is probable.
    Situation in the Republic of South Sudan
    Government Orders 8 p.m. Conservative
    and#65532;and#65532;Mike Wallace Burlington, ON
    Mr. Chair, that is one of the issues we will be facing in the near future. The issue of a famine is real in South Sudan. It will not be just us, but all partners will have to look at it if the food security issue does worsen over the next number of months due to the crisis.
    Let us hope the crisis comes to an end and we are able to provide other opportunities for self-sufficiency. However, if not, it is a fair question to ask the House and the agency whether we need to do more in South Sudan based on the circumstances of the day. The
    34
    and#65532;circumstances at present are that Canada is doing at least its share, if not more, of assistance to South Sudan in terms of food security. However, as we know in other parts of the world, as circumstances change due diligence has to be done by this government and governments around the world to make good decisions on what is right for that community, that country and the development of the world
    Tyrone Benskin Jeanne-Le Ber, QC
    and#65532;and#65532;Mr. Chair, I guess it is a bit of double-edged sword to stand in this place today to speak to this situation. My point of discussion would be vigilance, the vigilance of observer countries of the west.
    Recent history has given us plenty of reason to be vigilant. We are just now commemorating the 20th anniversary of the genocide in Rwanda. We have seen what has happened in Sri Lanka. We are seeing what is happening in CAR. We are seeing what is happening with D.R.C. and with Syria. What these things all have in common—and it will be the focus of my words today—is the use of sexual violence as a weapon, and the aftermath of that.
    The signs that we missed in Rwanda and missed in Bosnia, the signs that we are seeing and have seen in Sri Lanka, the signs that we have seen and are seeing in Syria, we are beginning to see now in South Sudan.
    The importance of vigilance by the west, by Canada and by observer countries, is paramount, because without that vigilance we allow the potential for something horrendous to happen. We contribute, although passively, to something that should not occur.
    My concern is for the escalation of hostilities in South Sudan in the last number of week in regard to targeted violence based on ethnicity and based on gender. My concern is that we will not have the wherewithal to address this situation in a preventive manner, and it is over whether we will have the expertise and ability to deal with this situation in the aftermath.
    I mentioned when I first stood that I am saddened to be standing in this place today, speaking to this issue, because one of the first trips I took as a member of Parliament was to South Sudan with my colleague from Newmarket. This was in January of 2012, so South
    and#65532;Sudan was merely six or seven months old.
    One of the things that struck us all on arriving in the capital of Juba was the fact that there was absolutely nothing in terms of infrastructure. There was absolutely no electricity unless one had a generator. Water was scarce in terms of being readily available. The airplane that landed us was a Boeing whatever, and it pretty well rolled right up to the door of the airport. We got off the plane and literally walked into waiting vehicles. The infrastructure was not there.
    However, in the subsequent meetings that we had with individual parliamentarians and with representatives of the NGOs and the media, there was a sense of hope, in many cases,
    35
    and#65532;because of the desire and determination of the group of individuals that we met to build a Sudan that they could be proud of and that the world could be proud of.
    It was a fragile hope, but it was a hope nonetheless, so to see what is happening in South Sudan today, slightly less than three years later, is disheartening. However, within that, I think we need to do the best we can as a friend of Sudan to make sure that we are there to help those individuals succeed in their desire to see Sudan succeed.
    One of the ways we can do that is being there and being vigilant, especially in terms of the type of conflict this has the danger of turning into. There are reports that these recent targeted attacks were spurred on by radio announcements urging individuals to attack individuals from another tribe, individuals who did not see eye to eye with the overall communities they were in. I think the first attack claimed the lives of some 200 individuals, while a subsequent attack claimed the lives of another 40 individuals. This struck a chord
    and#65532;with me, because that is the exact methodology that was used in the beginning of the Rwandan crisis.
    We are now, 20 years later, seeing the aftermath of what happened in Rwanda. There are recent articles about interviews and discussions held some 20 years later with not only the victims of sexual violence but with the children born of these acts, describing how those relationships were affected. Mothers could not look at their daughters; children felt ostracized by their families and their communities. The support for those who suffered during this ethnic cleansing period does not extend to those children. They are left to their own devices in terms of finding help, whether they understand that they need or decide that they want help.
    I will be repeating myself if I say that what I am hearing in the media now about the actions in South Sudan causes me great concern in terms of the direction that South Sudan may be going. We cannot look at these types of actions as offshoots of war. We cannot look at the tribal tensions in South Sudan as just things that happen. These tensions are at the core of the actions and the activities of the opposing forces in South Sudan, and they are used as a means of undermining the communities and the very society that these communities live in.
    We in Canada must make sure that the past sins of the fathers are not visited on the young people. Youth make up over half of the population of South Sudan. I feel very strongly that we, as Canada and as the west, need to make sure that we send a clear sign that we are there to support those children and that the civilians in South Sudan will have an opportunity to grow in safety and freedom and to find their feet so that they can move forward.
    Situation in the Republic of South Sudan
    and#65532;Government Orders 8:10 p.m.
    Newmarket—Aurora Ontario
    Conservative
    36
    and#65532;and#65532;Lois Brown Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Development
    Mr. Chair, indeed, my colleague and I were on that same parliamentary delegation to South Sudan. In fact, Canada was the very first government that had a parliamentary delegation go to visit that country after it had established itself as an independent nation. We saw many of the same things, met the same people, and had conversations with the parliamentarians.
    Canada has stepped forward and put forward money for humanitarian assistance. Sudan
    and#65532;has been a country of focus for Canada, so a tremendous amount of money has already gone in there. It is one of the seven countries in Africa that we have chosen as countries of focus, so development money has been going in there.
    Recently the Minister of International Development announced extra money. We have put $25 million into humanitarian assistance and another $51 million has gone in for further development projects.
    My question for my colleague is this: as a foreign country, how do we find that happy balance between respecting the sovereignty of that nation and helping it to find the way forward? What are the areas where he thinks we might be able to give guidance through our development projects? Are there areas where he thinks that we should be inserting some pressure? Does he have any thoughts on that aspect?
    Situation in the Republic of South Sudan
    Government Orders 8:15 p.m.
    NDP
    Tyrone Benskin Jeanne-Le Ber, QC
    and#65532;and#65532;Mr. Chair, yes, it is important that as our own nation we respect sovereignty of another nation.
    In terms of what we can offer the Sudanese, I think our strength, first and foremost, is governance. It is providing our expertise in a consultative manner with respect to governance and trying to show that there are other for motivations for governments, other than it is now my turn. This is something that, unfortunately, if my colleague remembers, was quite prevalent in the discussions that we had with parliamentarians.
    It is by no means our responsibility or our job to go in and tell another country what it should or should not be doing, but I think it behooves us to lend our expertise in areas such as
    37
    and#65532;governance and food security, as another colleague brought up. Canada can support everything from maternal health and infant health to governance in terms of consultation, and Canada can provide financial support, if necessary, in certain areas as well.
    Situation in the Republic of South Sudan
    Government Orders 8:15 p.m.
    Liberal
    and#65532;and#65532;Kirsty Duncan Etobicoke North, ON
    Mr. Chair, I would like to thank my colleague for speaking tonight and for his caring.
    According to Meand#769;decins Sans Frontieand#768;res, medical care is under fire in South Sudan. MSF patients and staff have been attacked, and multiple facilities have been attacked and looted since the violence broke out in December 2013. Three MSF-supported hospitals have been completely ransacked and destroyed.
    Most recently, at the Bentiu hospital just a few days ago, more than 30 people, including medical staff and patients, were killed. Patients were shot in their beds.
    One patient in the Malakal hospital, a 59-year-old gentleman, said:
    Every day, 10 to 15 men entered the hospital with guns.... They'd ask for cellphones and money. If you didn't give anything to them, they would shoot you.
    MSF calls on all parties to the conflict to respect medical facilities and to allow patients to receive medical treatment, irrespective of their origin or ethnicity.
    I wonder what my colleague thinks. Should the government be considering providing additional funding to humanitarian partners if the needs on the ground continue to change?
    Situation in the Republic of South Sudan
    Government Orders 8:15 p.m.
    and#65532;NDP
    Tyrone Benskin Jeanne-Le Ber, QC
    Mr. Chair, the member asked a significant question. As she stated in the preamble of her speech, the medical facilities are doing what they can to provide for the medical needs of the country's citizens and those activities are being thwarted by rebels.
    and#65532;38
    and#65532;Would putting more money into the medical needs of the community serve a purpose without being able to ensure that the medical aid will get to the communities that need it? We need to make sure that the support is maintained. We also need to work with our international partners to find a way to make sure that those services can be delivered safely, where individuals under medical care for whatever reason are protected by observer nations, be they of African origin or of western origin, and that the civilians be as protected as possible.
    Situation in the Republic of South Sudan
    Government Orders 8:20 p.m.
    NDP
    and#65532;and#65532;Marc-Andreand#769; Morin Laurentides—Labelle, QC
    Mr. Chair, since my colleague has been there and is familiar with the area, I have a
    question.
    Similar conflicts are happening elsewhere, and in this case, the conflict is happening in one of the poorest countries on the planet, and yet opposing factions are firing on one another with extremely sophisticated weapons. They are using high-calibre sniper cartridges that cost $4 or $5 each, and the assault rifles cost thousands of dollars. They did not acquire them by selling goats or sacks of millet. Someone is supporting them, and major interests are at stake.
    Should we not start by asking who is financing these conflicts and how weapons are entering the region? Should we not ask ourselves if perhaps they are even going through our country, since Canada has not signed the small arms treaty?
    Situation in the Republic of South Sudan
    Government Orders 8:20 p.m.
    NDP
    and#65532;and#65532;Tyrone Benskin Jeanne-Le Ber, QC
    Mr. Chair, I thank my hon. colleague for the question.
    This issue of who is behind this conflict and who is financing it is a very complex and thorny one.
    39
    and#65532;Our government has not as yet signed the small arms treaty and that is problematic, because it does create a situation where small arms are being funnelled into South Sudan to both sides of this conflict. It is something we need to take a look at ourselves in terms of this treaty and we need to make sure that we can figure out who is financing the conflict.
    Situation in the Republic of South Sudan
    Government Orders 8:20 p.m.
    Cypress Hills—Grasslands Saskatchewan
    Conservative
    and#65532;and#65532;David Anderson Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs
    Mr. Chair, it is great to be here tonight. I join my colleagues in voicing serious concern over the situation in South Sudan and I welcome this opportunity to contribute to the deliberations today in the House by focusing particularly on the security dimension.
    The violence that exploded in December 2013 continues to ravage the communities of South Sudan. While it is difficult to estimate the casualties with confidence due to the continuing access issues, a reporting indicates that between 10,000 and 40,000 people have been killed just since December. More than one million people have been displaced. Tens of thousands of citizens, desperate and terrified, have camped out at UN bases seeking protection.
    To be honest, the UN mission in South Sudan, UNMISS, has struggled to respond and to meet the basic needs of those seeking refuge and has provided what it can in terms of aid needed to survive and has actually contributed to saving countless lives. UNMISS was not prepared nor resourced for such a large-scale crisis, and reinforcements and support are still needed.
    The UN Mission in the Republic of South Sudan was created the same day as South Sudan itself on July 9, 2011. Although there had been previously a UN peacekeeping mission in Sudan, it had been focused on supporting the implementation of the comprehensive peace
    and#65532;agreement between north and south Sudan.
    The new country of South Sudan required a different kind of support from the international community. UNMISS took on the responsibility of supporting the consolidation of peace, assisting the government of South Sudan with preventing conflict and protecting civilians and also helping to establish the rule of law. The Security Council authorized the mission to use force when required, especially if it was necessary to protect civilians from attack.
    The July 2011 separation from Sudan was relatively peaceful following decades of conflict. However, it soon became clear that independence itself would not automatically deliver the hoped-for security gains across South Sudan. A legacy of decades of conflict included a highly militarized society, fragmented communities, weak institutions, and an
    40
    and#65532;underdeveloped and very vulnerable economy. It was well understood by international partners that the stabilization and development of South Sudan would be a formidable task and that the society was still fragile, with simmering ethnic tensions under the surface, with power vacuums, and with shifting political alliances. However, the scale and the ferocity of the outbreak of conflict last December took everyone by surprise.
    In response to the spiralling security situation in December 2013, the UN Security Council authorized an increase to the size of the UN force from about 8,000 to almost 14,000 personnel. The cessation of hostilities briefly agreed to in January is not being respected by either side, and clashes between government forces and rebels continue. Civilians remain vulnerable and in desperate need of protection. As recently as the Easter weekend, reported up to 1,500 civilians were brutally killed in Bentiu when opposition forces took control of the city. My colleague was just talking about the attacks on the hospital there.
    and#65532;Many were targeted, specifically for their ethnicity, driving an additional 20,000 people to seek refuge and the protection of civilian camps there.
    As a security situation, South Sudan has eroded, and so has the relationship between the government of South Sudan and UNMISS. UN bases have been attacked, UN personnel harassed. This situation is utterly unacceptable. UNMISS is routinely blocked from accessing people in need by both government and rebel forces. The South Sudanese government has falsely accused the mission of supporting and supplying rebels. Throughout this, UNMISS has repeatedly underscored its neutrality in the conflict and has done all it can to implement its primary goal of protecting the civilian population.
    On April 17, an attack on civilians and United Nations personnel at UNMISS in Bor resulted in a reported 58 people killed and over 100 wounded. If it had not been for the interventions of the UNMISS peacekeepers, more than 5,000 displaced persons housed at the camp would likely have met a similar fate.
    UNMISS personnel have time and again stepped up in their mandate to protect those most at risk of violence. I would like to take some time to pay special tribute to the two Indian soldiers who were killed while protecting the UN base at Akobo in December, and to the five Indian soldiers who gave their lives last April when they were ambushed while protecting a humanitarian convoy.
    Canada's engagement in South Sudan focuses on helping set the conditions for long-term peace and stability. To this end, we have been a supporter of UNMISS since its inception in 2011.
    We currently have 12 Canadian Armed Forces personnel deployed to the mission. CAF
    and#65532;personnel occupy positions in the mission's headquarters. They provide key advice on intelligence, on military planning, on logistics, and on military liaison. Both CAF and RCMP personnel were also part of its predecessor, the first UN mission in Sudan from 2005 to 2011. Through its office in Juba, Canada has worked closely with UNMISS leadership, including the Special Representative of UN Secretary-General, Hilde Johnson. Canada is also a major financial contributor to the UN peacekeeping budget. It has provided over $27 million in assessed contributions to UNMISS in the past fiscal year.
    It is critical that the international community stand behind the people of South Sudan at this difficult time and that we demonstrate our unwavering support for a peaceful solution. Canada, along with key like-minded partners in South Sudan, supports UNMISS and its work on behalf of the international community for the people of South Sudan. We also
    41
    and#65532;condemn the continued obstruction of UNMISS operations by government and opposition forces, as well as any threats or harassment toward UNMISS personnel. Canada, along with its international partners, has strenuously condemned the violations and the abuses of human rights and the violations of international humanitarian law perpetuated during this conflict. Finally, Canada continues to call for the lives of civilians to be protected, including those seeking refuge from violence at UN bases.
    We call on all parties to facilitate the work of UNMISS and to provide unhindered access to humanitarian workers. The Government of Canada takes very seriously the protection of civilians during humanitarian emergencies, including the specific protection needs of women and children, the elderly, religious minorities, and other particularly vulnerable groups. To this end, we continue to forcefully advocate for stronger civilian protection measures at the UN on issues such as the protection of medical personnel and assets, the safety and
    and#65532;security of humanitarian workers, and we recognize the vulnerability of certain populations in conflict situations.
    To date, in 2014, Canada has committed more than $24.8 million in humanitarian assistance to South Sudan through a number of key organizations on the ground. Canada's permanent representative to the UN urged the UN in December to work more effectively to protect and to better meet the needs of vulnerable populations, including religious minorities. This includes working to prevent and respond to sexual violence in humanitarian emergencies and ending the scourge of child, early, and forced marriage.
    Canada has frequently called for perpetrators of violence in South Sudan to be brought to justice, for all parties to the conflict to exercise restraint and to participate actively in peace negotiations, and for the international community to increase efforts to improve the humanitarian and security situation in the country.
    Canada also supports the High Commissioner for Refugees through $3 million in funding to provide assistance to conflict-affected displaced women and girls, who are survivors of sexual and gender-based violence. It also provides specific protection activities for displaced children in internally displaced sites, as well as in the refugee camps. Canadian support of $2.5 million to the International Committee of the Red Cross is helping to provide protection services to the survivors of sexual violence throughout South Sudan, as well as the reunification of minors with their families. Another $2 million of Canadian support through the International Organization for Migration is helping them work in conjunction with the ICRC to reunite separated family members by ensuring that all internally displaced people seeking protection in UN bases are registered.
    Canada is doing its utmost to promote the principles behind the protection of civilians in
    and#65532;South Sudan and around the globe. The Government of Sudan needs to do more to ensure that UNMISS, its bases, and its personnel are not vilified, and that they are enabled in their capacity to protect civilians caught in harm's way. Both sides of the conflict need to do more to immediately cease the deliberate targeting of civilians, tone down their rhetoric, and work toward a peaceful solution so that civilians no longer have to fear for their safety. As recent events demonstrate, UNMISS is under constant threat, exemplifying the need for the Government of Sudan to publicly support the work of the mission, to respect the work of UNMISS personnel and, most importantly, to step up to their responsibility and ensure the safety of their own citizens.
    42
    and#65532;To conclude, the UN needs to move more quickly to bring in more troops to support the mission, and the international community must show its full support for the protection of civilians in South Sudan. Civilians must never be targeted as they are today in South Sudan, in violation of all civilized norms.
    Situation in the Republic of South Sudan
    Government Orders 8:30 p.m.
    Liberal
    and#65532;and#65532;Kirsty Duncan Etobicoke North, ON
    Mr. Chair, again, I would like to thank my hon. colleague and everyone taking part in this debate tonight, for raising this important issue on the national stage. We have to continue to do it on the international stage.
    Will the government send a high-level government representative to South Sudan, in coordination with other international actors, as part of a delegation to demonstrate that Canada is seriously watching this situation and will not accept the status quo?
    Situation in the Republic of South Sudan
    Government Orders 8:30 p.m. Conservative
    David Anderson Cypress Hills—Grasslands, SK
    Mr. Chair, I can reassure my colleague opposite that we have been paying attention to the
    and#65532;and#65532;situation. This is not something we have been ignoring.
    I have here four press releases that have been done. Our government is directly engaged. Our parliamentary secretary has stepped forward to deplore the attacks that have taken place in South Sudan. Our minister has stepped forward as well to condemn the attacks that took place at UN camps. We have press releases explaining the contributions we are making in terms of international development and the like.
    Therefore, the member opposite can be assured that this is an important issue to our government and that we continue to pay attention to what is going on there, continue to make our contribution, and continue to try to work with the international community to find a resolution to an extremely difficult situation.
    43
    and#65532;Situation in the Republic of South Sudan
    Government Orders 8:30 p.m.
    NDP
    Heand#769;leand#768;ne Laverdieand#768;re Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC
    Mr. Chair, I would like to thank my hon. colleague for his very interesting and informative
    and#65532;and#65532;speech.
    First, I think we all agree that in the relatively short term we need to work on the real emergency we are facing here, but also we need to work in the longer term both on the peace process and for development in the longer term.
    My colleague mentioned the issue of weak institutions. I wonder what he thinks Canada could do to help build stronger institutions in South Sudan, working in particular with the diaspora here in Canada, which often has a lot of expertise and knowledge on the ground that it can bring to bear, and what more Canada could do to support the peace process.
    Situation in the Republic of South Sudan
    Government Orders 8:35 p.m. Conservative
    David Anderson Cypress Hills—Grasslands, SK
    Mr. Chair, my colleague opposite is well aware of some of the causes of the conflict in South Sudan and how some of the roots of this go back many years and are deep seated between particular people. She is wise to suggest that we need to take a look at the longer
    and#65532;and#65532;term as well, trying to find what we can do to make sure that, when there is a resolution to this, it is a long-term resolution.
    We all want South Sudan to succeed. South Sudan has been established because there was a desire that the people of South Sudan would finally have peace, would have the kind of governance they deserve, and would have the institutional strength and capacity to begin to participate in the world economy.
    There are a few things we need to do.
    One issue is that every person in South Sudan needs to have some opportunity to participate in and to influence the direction of the nation. That is a big statement to make,
    44
    and#65532;but certainly when we feel we have an equal share and are participating in our country we are far more likely to get involved in trying to solve the problems we have in our country.
    Second, a peace agreement really needs to learn from some of the other examples we have seen and to certainly be inclusive to try to bring peace to the entire country, not just to reflect the demands of a certain number of people but to try to include all citizens, all people groups, and all ethnic groups in that as well.
    Third, typically in these situations we need a comprehensive reconciliation process as well. Canada has participated in the past in the establishment of some of the institutions that bring those kinds of things about.
    We can help with this situation, but there is first a need to deal immediately with the violence that is taking place and try to bring a real ceasefire to the country, so we can begin
    and#65532;to discuss some of these other things.
    Situation in the Republic of South Sudan
    Government Orders 8:35 p.m.
    Newmarket—Aurora Ontario
    Conservative
    Lois Brown Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Development
    Mr. Chair, just to follow up on the question that was asked by my colleague across the way with respect to long-term contributions, one of the projects that Canada has participated in is a $20 million project to help democratic governance. It is divided into a number of sections: democratic governance, private sector developments, strengthening basic education, environmental education and training, peace and security, and social welfare services.
    I would like to focus on the whole area of education, because I think that is a long-term piece that Canada can help with. I wonder if my colleague has any thoughts on how
    and#65532;and#65532;Canada can be involved in education in South Sudan to help the youth, because we know it is a very young population. Is there any way Canada can help with moving education forward?
    Situation in the Republic of South Sudan
    Government Orders 8:35 p.m. Conservative
    45
    and#65532;and#65532;David Anderson Cypress Hills—Grasslands, SK
    Mr. Chair, we have an obligation to try to do what we can. I would back up one step before that, and this was addressed in the last question as well. That is the necessity to try to find some sort of a short- and medium-term solution and cessation of hostilities as best we can, so we can begin to put in place some of the institutions that need to be in place if we are going to bring education and health care to the population of South Sudan. We know this is a huge challenge.
    and#65532;One of the things we are trying to do is work with international organizations and agencies, which can provide some of that stability. We have partnered with a number of international partners such as the Canadian Red Cross. World University Services is one of those institutions that would be certainly geared toward trying to find educational opportunities and development. The University of Calgary, from western Canada, is involved with us in partnerships as well and World Vision Canada. Those are a few of the organizations that the Government of Canada is already partnered with in order to try to bring some peace and stability, some of the educational opportunities, and also some of the health provisions that the people in that area so desperately need.
    Situation in the Republic of South Sudan
    Government Orders 8:35 p.m.
    NDP
    Rosane Doreand#769; Lefebvre Alfred-Pellan, QC
    Mr. Chair, I would like to thank my colleague across the way for his remarks.
    We in the NDP support the people of South Sudan. I think I can speak for most of my
    and#65532;and#65532;colleagues in the House when I say that we are extremely concerned about the humanitarian crisis and the violence that the people of South Sudan are being forced to endure at this time.
    Last April, the Conservative government announced a contribution of $24.85 million for humanitarian assistance for South Sudan, and we welcomed that commitment.
    Can my colleague across the aisle confirm that that money has been turned over entirely to our partners in South Sudan? What does the government plan to do about long-term assistance for South Sudan?
    46
    and#65532;and#65532;David Anderson Cypress Hills—Grasslands, SK
    Mr. Chair, one of the challenges here is trying to deal with the short term, prior to dealing with the medium and long term. We have made our commitments, as the member mentioned. We have also made additional commitments, but we are also finding ourselves in the situation where there may be a huge food shortage in the short term; so it makes it very difficult in this situation to try to begin to address the longer-term challenges that the country of South Sudan has, when the crisis and the conflict is causing so many larger
    and#65532;short-term problems as well.
    As the member pointed out, we have made a commitment of $25 million to our humanitarian partners. I mentioned some of those partners a few minutes ago. Those are folks who are already operating on the ground. That is emergency assistance, but beyond that we have also provided another $50 million to help them address some of the longer-term food security and livelihood needs, which we anticipate and hope will begin to alleviate that potential problem of food shortages over this summer.
    We are trying to deal with this on a number of levels: deal with the short term, deal with the medium term, but then also take a look at the longer term and ask how we can contribute in the best way to the institutional strength of South Sudan, so that when this immediate emergency is over, it will be stronger and able to move on from there.
    Situation in the Republic of South Sudan
    Government Orders 8:40 p.m.
    NDP
    Eand#769;laine Michaud Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier, QC
    and#65532;and#65532;Mr. Chair, this evening, I would like to add my voice to those of my colleagues from all parties the House in expressing both our great concern about the crisis that is presently gripping South Sudan and, of course, our unconditional support for its people.
    This evening's debate is very sad and troubling. I have had the opportunity to hear my colleagues from different parties express their views on the situation. The message from all parties in the House is very clear: we have a responsibility to act. We have a responsibility as members of the international community and as human beings to come to the aid of the people of South Sudan. That is what this evening is really about.
    47
    and#65532;The situation is happening far away from us. It may seem very distant, but it is impossible to remain unmoved by the atrocities reported to us by the media and by people with links to those still living in South Sudan.
    Before starting my own speech, I would like to take a moment to thank my colleague from Jeanne-Le Ber for his presentation earlier. His speech was full of compassion, and he specifically recalled the 20th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide that is being commemorated this year. I found that comparison very appropriate.
    Among other things, he mentioned our duty to be vigilant. With the terrible conflict in Rwanda, we came to realize the impact that much quicker intervention on the part of the international community could have had. We learned some lessons from that conflict that we should use today to come to the assistance of the people of South Sudan, who really
    and#65532;need us to do so.
    I represent the constituency of Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier, where the forces base at Valcartier is located. That is one of the places where General Romeand#769;o Dallaire worked and continues to work. Partisan questions aside, I feel that each of us has been touched by his account of the tragic events that he witnessed, by his desire to provide assistance, while having his hands tied and being powerless. It troubled and affected us all. All around Quebec City, and in my constituency in particular, we have been especially affected by General Dallaire's distinguished presence. In addition, all Canadians were touched and gripped by the atrocities that were perpetrated in Rwanda.
    It is in that context that I want to address what is presently going on in South Sudan. Unfortunately, some parallels can be drawn between what is happening at the moment in that new country and what went on in Rwanda. It is very unfortunate and very disturbing for each of us here.
    The current situation in this country developed after a very long conflict that had been going on for several years, which led to the referendum to declare independence and the creation of South Sudan. In 2011, close to 99% of the voters voted in favour of independence. There a was a clear desire for self-determination by this people, which took action to create a country for itself. There was new hope that the people would finally be able to live together as a people and have the institutions they wanted.
    Unfortunately, the situation has taken a turn. On December 15, 2013, violence really erupted in South Sudan between pro-government forces, who remain loyal to President Salva Kiir, and the soldiers who support the former vice-president. That is when things began. Unfortunately, there are reports of ethnic massacres in the conflict. In other words,
    and#65532;some people are being targeted directly because of their ethnicity.
    Since the conflict began, thousands of people have reportedly died. The UN is investigating possible violations of human rights and international humanitarian law. Civilians have been attacked and civilians and peacekeepers have been killed.
    There are reports of population displacements and gender-based sexual violence. There are places where rape is used as a weapon of war. Frankly, this situation is appalling.
    Here in Canada, cases of sexual abuse and sexual harassment were recently uncovered in the Canadian Armed Forces and an inquiry was launched immediately. Action was taken swiftly. Everyone was deeply disturbed to hear that such things were happening here in
    48
    and#65532;Canada. When rape and abuse of women are systematically used as weapons of war, we cannot remain indifferent. We have the duty not only to act, but to act quickly.
    The violence has escalated significantly over the past two weeks. Hundreds of civilians were targeted at the UN bases where they sought refuge, just because they belonged to a certain ethnic group. Just a few days later, there was another violent attack against civilians at another UN base, where more than 40 people were killed and many others were injured. We are talking about potential war crimes, but there needs to be an investigation to determine whether that is the case. The facts are disturbing, and by all accounts these do indeed seem to be war crimes.
    Since the beginning of the conflict, more than one million people have fled their homes. I have heard a number of members talk about the youth of the South Sudan people. Indeed, large part of the population is under 30 and there are quite a lot of children. Many of them
    and#65532;are separated from their families, are abandoned and have no resources. There are already some 68,000 refugees in UN bases. That is an approximate number, but the numbers are huge nonetheless. The UN bases where they are trying to accommodate these people and help them were not designed to host so many refugees and to provide essential services and assistance. The facilities are overcrowded and the basic services are rudimentary. With so many people and so few resources there is an increased risk of diseases being spread. There are different problems in refugee camps, so the UN bases have become refugee camps. The UN estimates that 4.9 million people from South Sudan are in need of immediate humanitarian assistance.
    Because the camps are isolated and spread out, the UN says that it is difficult to reach many of the people affected by the conflict in South Sudan.
    As was mentioned earlier, this is a very young country. It has had little time to develop its infrastructure. There are few paved roads, which makes it very difficult to reach people who are scattered across the country and to provide the resources and help they need. The rainy season is approaching, which is something else that could cause problems and delay the arrival of assistance.
    Many members have mentioned the risk of famine. A number of farmers have been displaced. If they are still on their land, it is impossible for them to plant crops and to provide some sort of sustainment. Given this situation, we must act quickly. Canada has a responsibility. The government made a commitment. Members of the NDP were pleased to hear that $24.85 million has been promised. We have been calling for that assistance for a long time and we are pleased to see the government taking action.
    and#65532;I feel we need to do more. There are clear needs, and we need to help the people of South Sudan develop democratic institutions that will help prevent these types of situations. The culture of democracy needs to be developed. As members of the international community and as people who are lucky enough to live in a privileged country, we do not experience these types of situations. We have a responsibility to help these people and offer them Canada's resources.
    We are therefore asking the government to continue supporting the international community's efforts and to act quickly to prevent the conflict from getting worse and to help the victims, who are, unfortunately, often unprepared women and children.
    49
    and#65532;Situation in the Republic of South Sudan
    Government Orders 8:50 p.m.
    Newmarket—Aurora Ontario
    Conservative
    and#65532;and#65532;Lois Brown Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Development
    Mr. Chair, I listened to my colleague very carefully. I want to assure her that the money which was designated on April 1 by the Minister of International Development, indeed $24.85 million in humanitarian assistance, has been distributed: the Union Nations World Food Programme, $11 million; the UN High Commission for Refugees, $3 million; Red Cross, $2.5 million; International Organization for Migration, $2 million; the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, $500,000; UN Humanitarian Air Service, $2 million; World Relief Canada, $1.5 million; Meand#769;decins Sans Frontieand#768;res Canada, $1 million; and World Vision Canada, $1.35 million.
    That money went out the door on April 1 because our government pays what it pledges. That is our reputation. The member has called on the government to provide even more money. Does she have a figure in mind that we should be considering?
    Situation in the Republic of South Sudan
    Government Orders 8:50 p.m.
    NDP
    and#65532;and#65532;Eand#769;laine Michaud Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier, QC
    Mr. Chair, I would like to begin my thanking my colleague for providing those details. We needed to hear that information. We needed to hear that there is more to this than just empty promises, that the money is currently being distributed to competent partners who are already on the ground. That is good news. I would like to thank the member for sharing that information with the House, and I would like to thank the government for finally responding to the various requests from society and members of the House to help the people of South Sudan. It is a necessary step that is greatly appreciated.
    As for additional aid, the issue is worth discussing in other debates. We need to assess the areas of need, and we should start by looking at the effectiveness of the aid currently being
    50
    and#65532;distributed. There are certainly other needs, and Canada will continue to be called on for assistance. We may be asking a lot of our citizens, but this is our responsibility because we are so privileged.
    Earlier, a Conservative member said that some of his constituents did not really like the idea of sending Canadian money abroad. He gave them a good answer, which was that we do not really know what the situation is like in other countries, we do not know how difficult it can be, and we have a responsibility.
    That was from a government member. I hope that message will come not only from an MP and that the government will step up to meet other needs and other appeals from the international community, regardless of the constraints. We have a responsibility to do that.
    We have to work together to figure out how much we can give, but we do have a
    and#65532;responsibility to help that country. The federal government's investment is much appreciated. However, if there are other needs, we will be asked to respond.
    Situation in the Republic of South Sudan
    Government Orders 8:55 p.m.
    Liberal
    Kirsty Duncan Etobicoke North, ON
    Mr. Chair, I would like to thank my colleague for her passionate speech.
    I want to talk about the recent violence in Bentiu. Initially the United Nations reported 200 had been killed, and now it is 400. Beyond the horrendous loss of life, there are real implications for humanitarian aid.
    There has been a rapid influx of civilians into the base, 21,000 civilians seeking refuge in just 48 hours. The increase in violence is causing significant protection risks for civilians with reports of them being targeted and causing further displacement. Many children have been lost or separated from family members, so they are particularly vulnerable. Women
    and#65532;and#65532;and girls are vulnerable to sexual and gender-based violence.
    There is serious overcrowding in these bases, these sites. There is competition for shelter, child-friendly spaces, life-saving assistance, and increased risk of disease and infection.
    Does the member think that now is the time for Canada to step up the political pressure and investments in South Sudan to avoid a human catastrophe?
    Situation in the Republic of South Sudan
    Government Orders 8:55 p.m.
    NDP
    51
    and#65532;and#65532;Eand#769;laine Michaud Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier, QC
    Mr. Chair, I would like to thank my colleague for her excellent question, which is related to
    my comments in response to my government colleague.
    Canada has a responsibility to help people in need. In addition to providing financial and material resources, we can also take action on political and diplomatic fronts. We have to act quickly and put pressure on South Sudanese authorities to ensure that action is taken
    and#65532;and that peace negotiations resume.
    The ideal solution would be a negotiated peace. Armed intervention is not necessarily the best solution, but negotiation requires willingness on the part of the parties to go to the table, sit down and start over. I think the onus is on Canada to use its diplomatic influence to try to include women and members of civil society in the negotiation process to achieve a peace agreement that is good for everyone.
    Situation in the Republic of South Sudan
    Government Orders 8:55 p.m.
    NDP
    Heand#769;leand#768;ne Laverdieand#768;re Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC
    Mr. Chair, I thank my colleague for her very emotional speech.
    She mentioned the youth of the South Sudanese people and Canada's ability to exert diplomatic pressure.
    With regard to the youth, especially children, according to UNICEF, 50,000 children under the age of five could die this year as a result of illness, malnutrition and unsafe conditions.
    and#65532;and#65532;UNICEF received only 50% of the funding requested, which it needs to save lives in South Sudan.
    Canada has given money, but this situation is dragging on. We will have to continue assessing it.
    Does my colleague believe that Canada should also show leadership by pushing other countries to help resolve this situation?
    Situation in the Republic of South Sudan
    Government Orders 9 p.m.
    52
    and#65532;NDP
    Eand#769;laine Michaud Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier, QC
    Mr. Chair, I thank my colleague for the excellent question, which shows her experience in
    international relations. We can also see that she is very knowledgeable about this subject.
    I think she is quite right in saying that Canada could have a leadership role. It could bring other countries to the table so that they could make a direct contribution by providing
    and#65532;and#65532;UNICEF with the money it needs. This request for money is not to be taken lightly as the funds will be used to address a major humanitarian crisis.
    As for the number of children that could die this year, that is horrible, absolutely horrible. When we hear figures like that, I do not see how we can say that we have spent enough, given enough, tried enough, and that it is over and it is up to others to continue. I believe that our responsibility does not end there. As I mentioned earlier, it may seem difficult sometimes for people to understand, but we really do have a responsibility as members of the international community.
    We have the power to negotiate with our international partners with whom we already have economic, cultural and other ties. We can use our connections to get people to contribute if they have not already done so, or to contribute more if they have already committed to giving a certain amount. The work in South Sudan has just begun for the international community. The international community has been very involved and has put in a lot of effort, but there is still much to be done. We cannot rest on our laurels and be satisfied with the money, time and resources that have already been invested. For that, every country in the world will have to work together and make a firm commitment.
    Situation in the Republic of South Sudan
    Government Orders 9 p.m.
    Richmond Hill Ontario
    and#65532;Conservative
    Costas Menegakis Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration
    Mr. Chair, I rise tonight to join my colleagues in speaking about the plight of the people in South Sudan. My speech will focus primarily on Canada's maternal, newborn, and child health programming and how that programming is helping the good people of South Sudan.
    and#65532;53
    and#65532;The humanitarian situation in South Sudan is of deep concern to Canada and to Canadians. The widespread fighting has taken a terrible toll. From 10,000 to 40,000 people have been killed, and more than one million have been forced out of their homes.
    This crisis was triggered by a dispute between the president and his former vice-president and between ethnic Nuer and Dinka members of the presidential guard.
    The plight of the South Sudanese people demands and deserves immediate attention, and that is why the Government of Canada recently announced nearly $25 million in additional funding. These funds will alleviate the humanitarian crisis with the provision of food, shelter, emergency medical care, safe drinking water, sanitation facilities, and protection.
    We need partners to help effectively, and so I applaud all of the international efforts and the
    and#65532;spirit of co-operation that has emerged among donor nations in this particular instance.
    As my hon. colleague, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Development, stated earlier in this House, Canada pays what it pledges, and we encourage our partners to do the same.
    In addressing this urgent, high-profile crisis, we must not forget that South Sudan's instability is the result of more deep-rooted problems. A devastating civil war has shattered lives, institutions, and infrastructure. The lingering tensions among ethnic groups have threatened peace and security and advances in gender equality.
    We must not lose sight of the long-term impact, as well. Canada is working to improve South Sudan's sustainable development, particularly through our leadership in maternal, newborn, and child health.
    South Sudan's health system is weak. This is in part due to the devastation of decades of war but also due to the lack of public facilities and trained professionals. This means inadequate or non-existent services for mothers. According to the United Nations, a 15- year-old South Sudanese girl has a greater chance of dying from pregnancy-related causes than of finishing secondary school, and this begins a vicious circle. Mothers who do not have access to adequate nutrition or prenatal care are less likely to deliver healthy children. Children who do not get proper nutrition and vaccinations in their earliest years are less likely to become healthy and productive adults. The gateway to sustainable development begins here.
    That is why maternal, newborn, and child health has been a priority in Canada since the Prime Minister co-led the Muskoka initiative in 2010. Maternal, newborn, and child health is Canada's leading development priority. Before the Prime Minister drew attention to this
    and#65532;important issue, the world was falling short on reducing child mortality and curbing maternal death. Thanks to the Muskoka initiative and subsequent global action, maternal mortality rates are declining, and millions more children are celebrating their fifth birthdays.
    Our common goal has not yet been reached, but it is within arm's reach. That is why the Prime Minister is once again taking action to mobilize the world. Canada will host the high- level summit in maternal, newborn, and child health from May 28-30, 2014, right here in our own country, in Toronto. Together we can eliminate preventable deaths among children, women, and newborns, and we can save millions of lives that hang in the balance.
    Canada has a track record of results, because we have taken a pragmatic approach focused on results. South Sudan is one of Canada's priority Muskoka initiative countries.
    54
    and#65532;Despite the interruptions and required adaptations, our investments are yielding results in South Sudan. These are crucial to the long-term stability and prosperity of the country.
    Most of our programming is devoted to strengthening health systems and focuses on three primary areas: safer deliveries through improved emergency, obstetric, and newborn care; training of health workers, particularly midwives; and the provision of basic maternal, newborn, and child health services at primary health care facilities.
    Several of the Canadian-supported initiatives deliver results in more than one of these areas. For example, in partnership with the World Health Organization, Canada funded the building of a new maternity ward in a state hospital in South Sudan. It is now fully operational. Wards in two other state hospitals will be completed in the coming weeks. Through this project, 1,113 women have delivered babies safely at one of the hospitals. This has created an increase of 27% in safe deliveries over the previous year. Over 200
    and#65532;hospital staff have received training in obstetrics and gynecology. This has improved their ability to provide emergency health services to women giving birth.
    Canadian-supported initiatives have also made great progress in training and deploying midwives. Through the United Nations population fund, Canada committed $10.6 million to deploy 29 UN midwives from other countries to help facilities in all 10 states of South Sudan is becoming a reality. This will increase access to qualified midwives, reduce maternal and newborn deaths, and provide mentoring for South Sudanese midwifery students.
    The results in the first year of this initiative are impressive. More than 33,000 pregnant women have received prenatal care. There have been more than 8,300 deliveries. There have been 525 health workers trained, and over 300 midwifery and nursing students have received clinical instruction and guidance.
    Canada also committed $19 million to make four national health training institutes for midwifery and nursing in South Sudan operational. Currently over 200 midwifery and nursery students are enrolled and are studying at these institutes. The first group of 17 midwives and 13 nurses graduated in the summer of 2013. These midwives provide safe delivery, prenatal care, and clinical services, such as psychological counselling and medical examinations for survivors of rape.
    In such a difficult environment, these successes are important to highlight. It is important to show results. It is important to remember that when we say maternal, newborn, and child health, we are talking about saving the lives of mothers and children.
    Canada will continue working with our partners and supporting initiatives like the health pooled fund, a multi-donor fund that works with NGOs and county health departments to
    and#65532;increase access to and quality of health services. This initiative targets children, pregnant women, and other vulnerable groups. Health service coverage is increasing through the support of the fund.
    Canada is playing a leadership role in South Sudan and around the world when it comes to saving the lives of mothers and children. All Canadians can be proud of our government's record in this important area. Canadians should also be proud of the progress that has been achieved.
    Naturally, the difficult environment makes it very difficult to achieve results in South Sudan. However, we are working closely with our partners already on the ground. We are
    55
    and#65532;continually reassessing risks, and we continue to adapt our programs to ensure that our investments deliver results for those in need.
    Canada supports a peaceful resolution to the current conflict, one that will enable South Sudan to continue on its path to sustainable development.
    Situation in the Republic of South Sudan
    Government Orders 9:10 p.m.
    Newmarket—Aurora Ontario
    Conservative
    and#65532;and#65532;Lois Brown Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Development
    Mr. Chair, when I was in South Sudan we took a flight from Juba to a city called Wau, which is about 200 kilometres south of the border between northern Sudan and South Sudan. In the area outside of the city we visited several of the projects that Canada has invested in. I saw these little girls, ages 12 to 14, who were carrying little ones on their hips. Because I thought it was not possible that they were mothers, I asked, “Is this your brother or sister?” These little girls looked at me with aghast eyes and said, “No, this is my baby”.
    We know that very many young girls in South Sudan become pregnant at a very young age and we know the challenges it presents when there is no health care facility in the area and no one to provide guidance, whether for a difficult pregnancy or a challenging birth. Many of these young girls lose their lives because there is no assistance.
    I wonder if my colleague could comment again on the value of what our focus on maternal, newborn, and child health is doing to help young girls in areas like South Sudan, outside the city of Wau, by helping them to have safe, live births for their babies and to have the health care they need.
    Situation in the Republic of South Sudan
    Government Orders
    and#65532;9:10 p.m. Conservative
    Costas Menegakis Richmond Hill, ON
    and#65532;56
    and#65532;Mr. Chair, before I respond to the question, let me just say how proud I am of my colleague, the hon. member for Newmarket—Aurora and the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Development, for the focus that she has given to this specific issue and particularly for the attention and dedication that she continues on a daily basis, focusing not only on South Sudan but also on many other countries, particularly in Africa, that need our help and assistance. I know she travels quite often to the area, and often to areas of the world that are not the safest. They do not have the services that we are used to here in Canada, but she does it with such passion and such love that she is to be commended. I want to thank her very much for her service to our country and for her service to the people who are really in need in those countries that she visits and frequents so often.
    South Sudan continues to be one of Canada's priority countries as identified in the Muskoka initiative. In response to the hon. member's question, here are some of the recent results
    and#65532;we have seen in the maternal, newborn, and child health area.
    In partnership with the World Health Organization, Canada funded the launch of a new maternity ward at a state hospital in South Sudan. The number of safe deliveries at the hospital increased by 27% compared to the previous year, and 1,113 women have delivered their newborns safely since the beginning of that particular project.
    In partnership again with the World Health Organization, Canada helped eliminate hospital user fees of about $15 per birth in Jonglei State.
    In partnership with the United Nations Population Fund, 29 international midwives have been recruited and deployed to provide urgently needed maternal and newborn health services at hospitals and primary health care centres throughout South Sudan. Four national health training institutes for midwifery and nursing have become operational in South Sudan. Over 33,000 pregnant women have received prenatal care. Over 8,300 pregnant women delivered their babies in facilities across South Sudan. Since the crisis, international midwives have also provided safe deliveries to over 50 women, and over 300 pregnant women have accessed prenatal care services at the protection of civilians sites and one of the communities hosting many internally displaced persons.
    Five hundred and twenty-five health workers have been trained on sexual and reproductive health, emergency obstetric care, and midwifery skills across South Sudan. Over 300 midwifery and nursing students have received clinical instruction and guidance from international midwives.
    Situation in the Republic of South Sudan
    Government Orders
    and#65532;9:15 p.m. Liberal
    Kirsty Duncan Etobicoke North, ON
    and#65532;57
    and#65532;Mr. Chair, I would like to acknowledge that there are people here tonight who are hurting because their families are back home and they are scared. I would like to acknowledge the Canadians who are watching and worried about their families.
    I have asked a number of questions tonight. I have asked about responsibility to protect. I have asked about the UN mission. I have asked about humanitarian aid. I have asked about the coming famine. I am not getting answers.
    I am going to ask a very short question. Will the government support a more robust role for the United Nations' mission in the Republic of South Sudan as the mission's mandate is being reviewed?
    Situation in the Republic of South Sudan
    and#65532;Government Orders 9:15 p.m. Conservative
    Costas Menegakis Richmond Hill, ON
    Mr. Chair, I thank the hon. member for Etobicoke North for her passion and the feeling with which she has so eloquently and passionately asked her questions and positioned herself on this specific issue. It is obvious that she cares a lot about the good people of South Sudan. I, too, want to acknowledge the Sudanese people who are here with us today, as well as the Canadians watching across the country.
    In response to the question, our government, Canada, will continue to work very closely with our partners around the world to ensure that the aid we are providing reaches the people who need it the most. We will continue to monitor the situation to see what else can be done moving forward.
    Situation in the Republic of South Sudan
    Government Orders 9:20 p.m.
    and#65532;and#65532;NDP
    Djaouida Sellah Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, QC
    Mr. Chair, since we began this debate on the situation in South Sudan, we have spoken about humanitarian aid, additional assistance and ways of making that country safe as soon
    and#65532;58
    and#65532;as possible. We also spoke about support for establishing peace in that young country and many other things, since tragedies and, unfortunately, genocides often occur in Africa.
    What will the government do to ensure that resources are given to help the African Union Commission of Inquiry on South Sudan monitor human rights and investigate the violations that have occurred, particularly in relation to the recent incident in Bentiu, in order to prevent other atrocities and ensure that those responsible are brought to justice?
    Recently, the United States used the term “abomination” to describe situation, and that speaks volumes about the degree of violence that is occurring in this young country.
    Situation in the Republic of South Sudan
    Government Orders
    and#65532;9:20 p.m. Conservative
    Costas Menegakis Richmond Hill, ON
    Mr. Chair, the simple answer to the question is that Canada will continue to provide humanitarian assistance on the basis of the needs of South Sudan through its international humanitarian assistance bureau. There is a litany of things we have heard tonight, a whole list of support that Canadians have given the good people of South Sudan and will continue to provide for them. As I said, we will continue to work with our partners around the world. We will continue to monitor the situation. It is a priority for our government.
    I applaud all members who are showing their interest by being here tonight and speaking on this very important issue.
    and#65532;and#65532;and#65532;and#65532;Irwin Cotler Mount Royal, QC
    Mr. Chair, it is with great urgency that we are gathered in this House this evening, as expressed in the very moving submissions that we have heard. I want to commend the member for Etobicoke North for her initiative and her sustained participation in this debate.
    I have listened with great interest to my colleagues on all sides of the House and the graphic accounts of the savagery and brutalization endured by the civilian population in South Sudan. One must never forget that behind each person, behind the statistics there is a name, there is a life, there is a story.
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    and#65532;The urgent plight of South Sudan is perhaps best summed up by Eric Reeves, who put it as follows, in an article published just today:
    ...no civilians in the world are in greater danger than those of South Sudan. Not in Syria, Central African Republic, or Darfur is the threat of targeting on the basis of identity so immediate as it is for certain ethnic groups in vulnerable areas of South Sudan. Given the lack of protection by Juba government forces, the inability of UN troops to protect large numbers of people, and the absence of significantly greater protection from the broader international community, hundreds of thousands of people are likely to die in the coming months, whether directly through targeted violence or indirectly through hunger. It is an unsurpassably urgent crisis and yet the world's response has been in no way comparable to the threats civilians now face on a daily basis.
    and#65532;It is the issue of response that I seek to address.
    I must note that this debate occurs at a particularly important historical juncture, for we meet in the aftermath of the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Mass Atrocities, which we commemorated last week, the remembrance of horrors too terrible to be believed but not too terrible to have happened, of the struggle against mass atrocities wherever they are occurring, including, also, the unthinkable, unspeakable, ultimate crime against humanity whose name we should even shudder to mention: genocide.
    As well, we meet at a historic moment of remembrance and reminder: the 70th anniversary of the Holocaust of Hungarian Jews, where some 430,000 Hungarian Jews were deported in cattle trains to the death camps in Auschwitz in six weeks.
    I raise this, not to draw comparisons between the situation in South Sudan and the Holocaust. There are no comparisons or analogies to be made here. Rather, I have just returned, today, from a moving and painful visit to Hungary and Poland on the occasion of Holocaust Remembrance Day. At Auschwitz, I had the honour to light a memorial torch with the great-niece of the Swedish diplomat and Canada's first honorary citizen Raoul Wallenberg, a hero of humanity, a person who showed how one man, with the compassion to care and the courage to act, can transform history.
    As part of Yom HaShoah, we mourned those who perished as we paid tribute to the survivors among us. With them, we said, “Never again will we be silent in the face of evil; never again will we be indifferent to racism and anti-Semitism; never again will we be bystanders to hate or to the pain of the vulnerable.”
    And as we stated this here in the House yesterday, as well.
    and#65532;However, what remains so tragic, and this is the theme of my remarks this evening, is that we have failed to learn the lessons of the Holocaust. We have failed to learn the lessons of the Rwandan and Darfur genocides. We have failed to learn the lessons of what we are seeing as we meet in Syria, and where we may well be on the precipice in South Sudan.
    In a word, the international community cannot afford to stand idly by when confronted with ethnic cleansing, war crimes, crimes against humanity, mass atrocity, and the crime whose name we should always shudder to mention; namely, genocide.
    What makes the Rwandan genocide, whose 20th anniversary we are also now observing, so unspeakable is not only the horror of the genocide, of the mass atrocities in Rwanda, where 10,000 were slaughtered each day, but that this genocide was preventable.
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    and#65532;No one can say that we did not know. We knew, but we did not act, just as we know what is occurring in South Sudan today and we are failing to act.
    Out of the ashes of the Holocaust came the Genocide Convention, the so-called “never again” convention which, tragically, has been violated again and again. In the shadow of Rwanda, however, 192 states unanimously adopted the responsibility to protect doctrine otherwise known as R2P.
    In 2003, in the preface to his book Shake Hands with the Devil: The Failure of Humanity in Rwanda, Canadian Senator Romeand#769;o Dallaire wrote as follows:
    Almost fifty years to the day that my father and father-in-law helped to liberate Europe— when the extermination camps were uncovered and when, in one voice, humanity said,
    and#65532;“Never again”—we once again sat back and permitted this unspeakable horror to occur.
    Added Dallaire in words that were eerily prescient, his book was published in 2003, but written before what was occurring in Darfur was even known to any but the very few. He went on to say, “The genocide in Rwanda was a failure of humanity that could easily happen again”.
    Yet we are beholding a failure of all R2P, or I would put it another way, a failure to implement R2P rather than a failure of the doctrine itself in South Sudan, and I would say elsewhere as in Syria.
    Simply put, we do not even see the invocation of the doctrine itself by the government. Indeed the Government of Canada has been reticent to even use the term R2P, even though it is one of the most important normative, if not juridical doctrines certainly of the 21st century and going back even to the latter part of the 20th century. It has been reticent to even use the term, let alone give expression to the compelling principles of civilian protection, that whole range of protective options that underlie it. But, if one is going to implement R2P, one has to at least begin to acknowledge it, to affirm it, and then move on to implement it.
    We must ask ourselves now in relation to what is happening in South Sudan and in reference to R2P, what is it that we have learned, or more important, what must we do and where is R2P in all of this?
    In my brief remaining time I propose to summarize some of the foundational lessons of the Rwandan genocide, again not because South Sudan is the same, the contexts are clearly quite different and the factual dimensions, while bearing some resemblance, are also different, but rather because it may shed some light on what we mean by R2P, how we can
    and#65532;pour content into it and how we can ensure that the responsibility to protect like never again does not become an idle slogan or clicheand#769;, but can rather serve as the basis for preventive and protective action for the benefit of the people of South Sudan.
    The first lesson is the danger of forgetting and the importance and responsibility of remembrance itself, le devoir de meand#769;moire, of bearing witness to unspeakable horrors and learning from the collective failure to act which made them possible. Remembrance is an abiding moral imperative that must underpin R2P itself, that we are each, wherever we are, the guarantors of each other's destiny and we must act accordingly.
    The second lesson, which emerges both from the Rwandan genocide and not unlike the Holocaust, is the danger of state-sanctioned cultures of hate and the corresponding
    61
    and#65532;responsibility to prevent. Simply put, the Rwandan genocide occurred not only because of the machinery of death, but because of state-sanctioned incitement to hate. Indeed, as the Supreme Court recognized and as echoed by the International Criminal Tribunals for former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, the Holocaust did not begin in the gas chambers. It began with words. In particular, the jurisprudence of the Rwandan tribunals demonstrates that these acts of genocide were preceded by, and anchored in, the state-orchestrated demonization and dehumanization of the minority Tutsi population.
    I mention this because as we meet there have been troubling news stories reported to UN sources with respect to the use of radio broadcasts in South Sudan encouraging the rape of women from certain ethnic groups, horrific and hateful incitement eerily similar to that which precipitated those kinds of criminality in Rwanda itself.
    Simply put, the international community must bear in mind, as the Supreme Court of
    and#65532;Canada affirmed in the Mugasera case, that incitement to hate and genocide is a crime in and of itself. Taking action to prevent it, as the genocide convention compels us, is not a policy option; it is an international legal obligation of the highest order, so the responsibility to prevent here is yet another compelling component of R2P. In this regard, we must ensure that hate and inciting speech is prosecuted where appropriate, and that those guilty of such incitement are brought to justice, as occurred with respect to Rwanda.
    The third lesson is the danger of indifference and the consequences of inaction and the corresponding responsibility to act. Simply put, while the UN Security Council and the international community dithered and delayed, Rwandans were dying. One only has to read the witness testimony on Rwanda in Philip Gourevitch's book entitled We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families, or Gerry Caplan's searing indictment of indifference in his book on The Preventable Genocide or the testimony of Alison Des Forges, Leave None to Tell the Story: Genocide in Rwanda to understand not only the horror of this Rwandan genocide, but the ultimate horror that this genocide was preventable, that it was the indifference, the silence, the acquiescence, indeed the complicity of the international community that made this genocide possible.
    In that regard, let there be no mistake about it. We know what is occurring in South Sudan. There is no mystery. What is necessary at this point is action in our regard.
    The fourth lesson is that of a danger of a culture of impunity, and the importance therefore of bringing to justice those who are responsible for some of the horrific acts in the 20th century.
    Situation in the Republic of South Sudan
    and#65532;Government Orders 9:30 p.m.
    NDP
    The Chair Joe Comartin
    and#65532;62
    and#65532;The hon. member has run over on his time by at least 30% right now. Perhaps we will go to questions and comments and he can pick up on those final points.
    Questions and comments, the hon. member for Etobicoke North.
    Situation in the Republic of South Sudan
    Government Orders 9:35 p.m.
    Liberal
    and#65532;and#65532;Kirsty Duncan Etobicoke North, ON
    Mr. Chair, my colleague has said it succinctly. We know what is happening in South Sudan.
    We all know the horrors and we know the violence is escalating.
    I have one question for my hon. colleague. What would he like to see Canada do immediately?
    Situation in the Republic of South Sudan
    Government Orders 9:35 p.m.
    Liberal
    Irwin Cotler Mount Royal, QC
    Mr. Chair, let me just be very specific in terms of what I think we need to do.
    One, we need to appropriate and deploy the necessary forces to protect the civilians. The present configuration, UN and otherwise, is not sufficient.
    and#65532;and#65532;Two, we need intensify international efforts to support a peace process beginning with the negotiation of an enforceable ceasefire.
    In each of these things I am referring to the leadership that Canada can take in helping to bring these things about.
    Three, we need a major international diplomatic effort to negotiate a cross-line humanitarian assistance approach.
    Four, Canada as a lead donor, and I respect what the government has told us this evening about Canadian contributions in so many ways. That should assist us to help coordinate a
    63
    and#65532;$232-million relief effort for the eight operations that will be needed with respect to the next three months alone.
    Five, we need a coordinated effective strategy involving a coalition of states to sanction human rights violations, as I mentioned earlier.
    Six, we must protect civilian communities and engage in a coordinated effort to deliver food, seeds, shelter, water, sanitation, all those things that have been mentioned in this debate and in this regard.
    We must also bear in mind what has been said this evening about the danger of starvation and the related danger, a famine in the coming months. This could be a horrific catastrophe when joined together with the conflict itself.
    and#65532;These are some of the initiatives that we can take in this regard.
    Situation in the Republic of South Sudan
    Government Orders 9:35 p.m.
    NDP
    Heand#769;leand#768;ne Laverdieand#768;re Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC
    Mr. Chair, I would like to thank my colleague for his speech; it was very informative, as all
    his speeches are.
    This is what I took from his words: We cannot afford to stand by.
    The hon. member from Mount Royal is well aware that I share his views on the responsibility to protect, and that I fully agree that we have to show leadership in our support for peace negotiations.
    In terms of those peace negotiations, does the hon. member consider it important, as we do, to make sure that members of civil society, specifically women, are included in any
    and#65532;and#65532;peace process?
    In addition, does my hon. colleague believe that Canada should sign the arms trade treaty, which is a global initiative to prevent this kind of conflict?
    Situation in the Republic of South Sudan
    Government Orders 9:35 p.m.
    Liberal
    64
    and#65532;and#65532;Irwin Cotler Mount Royal, QC
    Mr. Chair, if Canada wants to be a leader in this process, the government needs to work with civil society, particularly with women. I am aware of the role of women and what they can endure when there is no protection in the form of peace and security. There must be a collaboration between government and civil society now.
    I agree with ratifying the treaty.
    and#65532;Situation in the Republic of South Sudan
    Government Orders 9:40 p.m.
    NDP
    Djaouida Sellah Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, QC
    Mr. Chair, I have listened carefully to the hon. member's speech, as I always do. Heaven alone knows how much experience he has in these matters. I sense his empathy for justice and the protection of vulnerable people.
    Does the hon. member agree with UNICEF that children should be the focus of the international community's response in South Sudan and that more resources should be devoted to them?
    Situation in the Republic of South Sudan
    Government Orders 9:40 p.m.
    Liberal
    and#65532;and#65532;and#65532;Irwin Cotler Mount Royal, QC
    Mr. Chair, I quite agree. I have sometimes quoted in this House the most important lesson
    my daughter taught me when she was 15. She is 33 now. This is what she told me.
    She told me, “Daddy, if you want to know how to protect human rights in this world, at any time, in any situation, in any part of the world, in any place where there is conflict, ask
    65
    and#65532;yourself the question: Is it good for children? What is it that we can do that will be good for children? That is the real test of human rights, Daddy”.
    Indeed, for me, the issue of the children is at the heart of this conflict.
    Situation in the Republic of South Sudan
    Government Orders 9:40 p.m.
    Newmarket—Aurora Ontario
    Conservative
    and#65532;and#65532;Lois Brown Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Development
    Mr. Chair, I rise to express Canada's deep concern about the serious humanitarian crisis in South Sudan and to discuss how our development and international humanitarian assistance efforts are responding to and adapting to the crisis.
    For anyone who has been following the situation in South Sudan, it is heartrending. While the media have predominantly portrayed the crisis as the outbreak of tensions between President Salva Kiir and his former vice-president, Riek Machar, it is also fueled by ethnic tensions and driven by broader political motivations. The resulting conflict has left between 10,000 and 40,000 people dead and has displaced more than one million. Almost a quarter of these people have taken refuge in neighbouring countries, straining their resources and threatening to destabilize the region. Apart from the gravity and tragedy of the situation, South Sudan is a case in point about how daunting a task it is to build a new nation left fragile from decades of civil war and, therefore, how much care we need to take to continue to support South Sudan's journey to peace, stability, and prosperity.
    South Sudan gained independence from Sudan in 2011 after decades of civil war. The war left terrible scars. An estimated 90% of South Sudan's people live below the poverty line, and up to 40% of the population is considered food insecure. The child mortality rate is high, and the maternal mortality rate is the highest in the world. With the war over, a government in place ready to work with donor countries, and a resource-rich country with vast potential,
    and#65532;South Sudan had every possibility of a bright future ahead of it. However, the country is still undeniably fragile. The war left many issues with Sudan unresolved, while South Sudan remained highly militarized and prone to intertribal conflict. Youth are vulnerable to recruitment by armed groups, while women remain subject to gender-based violence. In a society that already ceded them little control over their resources and few opportunities for advancement, they cannot realize their full potential and contribute to the stability of their families and communities.
    The governance of the nation also remains weak. Apart from the current political divisions, the nascent government of South Sudan lacks capacity to promote economic growth, develop infrastructure, provide security, and deliver services such as health and education.
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    and#65532;Likewise, mechanisms to support good governance that we take for granted here in Canada are weak in South Sudan. Some 975 civil society organizations operate in South Sudan, and their capacity is limited, as is that of the private sector, which is held back by a lack of foreign investment and infrastructure, limited access to financing, and the basic skills of literacy and numeracy in the population.
    While I say that the situation is dire, it is not without hope, and that is why Canada remains a player in South Sudan. Canada has remained committed to South Sudan's development as a new country. In the face of the considerable challenge of the current situation in that country, Canada's fundamental position has not changed, as South Sudan still represents tremendous potential for growth and stability, and its people are still just as deserving of safety, security, prosperity, and the ability to contribute to their communities.
    Canada is following the current crisis closely and is determining how best to deliver our
    and#65532;international development assistance in response to the evolving situation. For the present, it is true that conflict has interrupted some bilateral projects unavoidably, but many Canadian initiatives continue to operate. We also continue to work toward helping the people of South Sudan, both to meet the current crisis and to promote long-term development through partner organizations active in the field.
    To address immediate humanitarian needs, Canada has provided nearly $25 million in response to appeals this year from the United Nations, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, and Canadian non-governmental organizations. These organizations were present in South Sudan before the current conflict and, as they have considerable reach throughout the country, it makes sense to focus our humanitarian assistance funding through them.
    Together, these organizations are providing emergency food assistance, water, sanitation and hygiene, emergency medical care, emergency nutritional support, protection services, and shelter to vulnerable populations.
    Canada will continue to closely monitor the situation and assess how best to support the evolving situation. Of particular concern are the more than one million people displaced by conflict both within South Sudan and as refugees in neighbouring countries. The upcoming rainy season will make the current humanitarian situation even worse, as roads become impassable and humanitarian organizations must resort to costly air drops of food to reach the most vulnerable.
    Food insecurity remains another principal concern of our humanitarian assistance, though this has also been a perennial challenge in the country, even before the present situation.
    and#65532;Before the conflict, more than 1 million South Sudanese were at risk of severe food insecurity this year. As a result of the crisis, now 3.7 million are at risk.
    A second area of great hardship and great opportunity is maternal, newborn, and child health. Health indicators for women and children in South Sudan are among the worst in the world. South Sudan is one of Canada's priority Muskoka initiative countries. Accordingly, Canada is and will remain one of its top donors in maternal, newborn, and child health. Canada has taken a leadership role in addressing the health challenges faced by women, newborns, and children in the world's poorest countries, including South Sudan. Our G8 Muskoka initiative on maternal, newborn, and child health will save the lives of 1.3 million children and newborns, as well as more than 60,000 young mothers.
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    and#65532;Canada will hold a summit that will provide civil society and the private sector, along with global and Canadian leaders in health, the opportunity to come together and build a consensus on where to focus efforts to maximize results for those in need. Canada has been given high praise for its leadership in this important area. All Canadians can be proud of our government's record in this important area.
    Rosemary McCarney, coordinator for the Canadian Network for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health, said:
    Canada came out of the gate when MDG 4 and 5 were the worst performing MDGs and Canada said we're going to do something about that, and get our G8 partners onto it, and kept going.
    David Morley of UNICEF Canada recently praised our efforts. He said that “the Government
    and#65532;of Canada [is] a global leader in maternal, newborn and child health”.
    Even the Toronto Star gave the Prime Minister credit in a recent editorial, declaring:
    Canada's contribution is almost twice what we might normally have been expected to provide.
    It thanked our government for our ambitious leadership.
    The third thrust of Canada's development program in South Sudan is governance. While the Government of South Sudan has made progress in recent years, for example, by holding a national constitutional review and passing key legislation to govern areas such as elections and financial accountability, many public institutions lack the systems and skills needed to carry out their core functions, deliver basic services, and fight corruption.
    The current crisis has made it especially clear that broad participation of all South Sudanese in the country's future, one that encompasses an inclusive peace agreement and a comprehensive reconciliation process addressing the grievances that drive conflict, is necessary for long-term stability.
    Of course, even if the current conflict were resolved in the near future, much more work would remain to be done. Canada recognizes the inherent risks and is working with our partners conscientiously and methodically to minimize them, work around them, and continually reassess them.
    The South Sudan situation is dynamic, and our response must be correspondingly flexible, adapting the modalities and partners we work through to remain realistic in our expectations
    and#65532;of future progress.
    Above all, we must stay engaged to ensure that development gains are not lost. What will not change, however, is Canada's recognition of South Sudan as a viable development partner whose people deserve and have a friend in Canada.
    Situation in the Republic of South Sudan
    Government Orders 9:50 p.m.
    NDP
    68
    and#65532;and#65532;Heand#769;leand#768;ne Laverdieand#768;re Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC
    Mr. Chair, I would like to thank my colleague for her very informative speech.
    In 2011, Canada took a strong stand on protecting women and girls from sexual violence in Libya.
    Does my colleague know whether any of the programs supported by the Canadian
    and#65532;government have a specific mandate to protect women and girls from sexual violence?
    Situation in the Republic of South Sudan
    Government Orders 9:50 p.m. Conservative
    Lois Brown Newmarket—Aurora, ON
    Mr. Chair, our record as a government on this issue is not in question. We have condemned gender-based violence anywhere we have seen it taking place. We put forward money in Congo to ensure that women who had faced gender-based violence were given the services they needed to assist them to recover. We put forward money for therapy and counselling to make sure that no woman was left behind.
    We are working with our partners in South Sudan. We have contributed money to our partners that we trust. Meand#769;decins Sans Frontieand#768;res Canada has received $1 million. The International Committee of the Red Cross has received $2.5 million. There is the International Organization for Migration and the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. All of these organizations are concerned about women and girls. We know that working through them we are going to get those kinds of programs to the most vulnerable.
    and#65532;and#65532;Situation in the Republic of South Sudan
    Government Orders 9:50 p.m.
    Liberal
    and#65532;69
    and#65532;Kirsty Duncan Etobicoke North, ON
    Mr. Chair, I would like to thank the parliamentary secretary for her speech and for co-
    hosting a briefing we did on South Sudan.
    I would also like to thank her for saying that Canada must stay engaged and that we must be flexible and adaptable. It has been said over and over again tonight that we are all very concerned about famine.
    I have two questions. How does the government envision its role in bringing parties back to the negotiating table under IGAD? How will the government respond to the influx of refugees from neighbouring countries?
    Situation in the Republic of South Sudan
    and#65532;Government Orders 9:50 p.m. Conservative
    Lois Brown Newmarket—Aurora, ON
    Mr. Chair, as I said in my remarks, we are going to remain flexible, and we are going to
    continue to assess the situation.
    As I said in my remarks, we recognize the great potential South Sudan has. We would like to see that country, as nascent as it is, have the opportunity to move forward to develop its resources and to become a contributing member within the African continent. We are going to continue to assess that situation on an ongoing basis.
    I would like to read a quote into the record, a quote I keep on my BlackBerry, because it reminds me continually of the attitude this government has taken whenever it is assessing:
    ...when the need is great and the cause is just, Canadians are always there. And we always will be. Because that is what Canadians do.
    That was said by our Prime Minister two years ago. I believe that it is the attitude of this government. We will continue to assess. We will continue to be flexible. We will continue to
    and#65532;and#65532;help.
    Situation in the Republic of South Sudan
    Government Orders 9:55 p.m.
    NDP
    70
    and#65532;and#65532;Djaouida Sellah Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, QC
    Mr. Chair, I would like to thank my colleague for her informative speech.
    Early in April, the government announced that it was going to send $24.85 million in humanitarian aid to South Sudan. Can my colleague tell us whether all of that money has been transferred to partners, including UNICEF, Doctors Without Borders and World Vision, that have extensive on-the-ground expertise in dealing with crises like the one in South
    and#65532;Sudan?
    Situation in the Republic of South Sudan
    Government Orders 9:55 p.m. Conservative
    Lois Brown Newmarket—Aurora, ON
    Mr. Chair, I would like to thank my colleague for that question, because it once again gives me the opportunity to affirm that when this government makes a pledge, we pay what we pledge. We call on other donors to do the same. When they make a pledge, it needs to come forward. That is our record, and we have been thanked by multiple organizations around the world. The Global Fund and GAVI Alliance have all commended our government for being upfront with the money that we have pledged and ensuring that it was received.
    I again want to reaffirm the amounts to my colleague. There was $1 million to the United Nations World Food Programme, $3 million to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, $2.5 million to the International Committee of the Red Cross, $2 million to the International Organization for Migration, $500,000 to the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, $2 million to the United Nations Humanitarian Air Service, $1.5 million
    and#65532;and#65532;to World Relief Canada, $1 million to Meand#769;decins sans frontieand#768;res Canada, and $1.35 million to World Vision Canada.
    I have spoken to many of these organizations. They are very grateful for Canada's intervention.
    Kirsty Duncan Etobicoke North, ON
    and#65532;71
    and#65532;Mr. Chair, I just want to raise one last time the issue of children in South Sudan. There have been more grave child rights violations between December 2013 and now than there were in all of 2013. Twenty-two thousand boys and girls have been impacted. There were grave violations against children, including maiming and killing, attacks on schools and hospitals, and the recruitment of child soldiers. These are crimes under international law, and the perpetrators must be held accountable.
    I am wondering what the government envisions doing to protect children using its voice in the Group of Friends on Children and Armed Conflict. What does the government plan to do to raise the voice and bring political pressure to protect the children of South Sudan?
    Situation in the Republic of South Sudan
    Government Orders
    and#65532;9:55 p.m. Conservative
    Lois Brown Newmarket—Aurora, ON
    Mr. Chair, obviously all of us are concerned about the plight of the children. No one with a heart cannot help but feel the plight of these young ones. The population of South Sudan in total is a very young population, and many of these young people have never known anything but conflict in their lives, which is making the situation even more difficult.
    As a government we have in the past invested in the governance capacity growth of South Sudan and we will continue to do so. There are long-term issues that have to be resolved there. The country needs to develop its government and judicial systems so that people who have perpetrated crimes are brought to justice, and that justice system needs to be established. It is a long-term project, but we will continue to condemn acts of violence, particularly against children.
    If I could be so bold, I do not know of anybody in the House who could be as concerned as I am about the health of all of Africa. I have an African son-in-law. My daughter and my son- in-law are currently living in Africa and my daughter is teaching in Africa, so it is compelling to me and to my family to know that Africa is a healthy continent.
    and#65532;and#65532;It means every country has to be healthy. It means that every child has to have opportunity and a future, and we are going to continue to work to make sure that happens.
    Situation in the Republic of South Sudan
    Government Orders 10 p.m.
    NDP
    72
    and#65532;and#65532;Djaouida Sellah Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, QC
    Mr. Chair, I rise here this evening because South Sudan is facing a very serious
    humanitarian crisis.
    Since December, political differences among the leaders of South Sudan have resulted in violence. Thousands of people have been killed and hundreds of thousands have been displaced.
    and#65532;Fleeing the violence, these refugees find themselves in overcrowded camps spread across the country or in neighbouring countries. They live in appalling conditions. The secretary general of the Ethiopian Red Cross has reported that living conditions in the camps have deteriorated, since water and shelter are becoming scarce.
    People are living outdoors in temperatures of up to 45oC, often without latrines and with very little drinking water. Poor hygiene and sanitation conditions clear the way for the spread of diseases that could become epidemics.
    As we know, the rainy season is about to unleash its fury in that region, which is why urgent action is needed. The rainy season could promote the spread of water-borne diseases such as cholera, diarrhea and malaria. Furthermore, the resulting floods will make the roads impassable and prevent NGOs from getting humanitarian supplies to their destination.
    As a volunteer physician during the Gulf War, I know that there is a real potential for epidemics to develop and that treatment will only become more and more difficult.
    The medical situation in South Sudan before the conflict was very rudimentary and did not really adequately meet the people's needs.
    The violence only made the situation worse, either because the medical infrastructure was destroyed, or because the medical staff became refugees or because people were afraid to face the violence to go to the hospitals.
    The situation is quite alarming. The university hospital of Malakal is attacked daily by armed men who pillage and ruthlessly kill the patients. Such abuses speak to the importance, in such a conflict, of protecting and respecting civilians and the infrastructure and medical staff
    and#65532;in place to help the public.
    The underlying principle of Canada's international policy is that a just and lasting peace is key for resolving the humanitarian political crises and human rights crises in South Sudan. Putting into practice this principle set out by the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development requires not just financial aid, but also humanitarian aid.
    That is why the government needs to send additional emergency humanitarian assistance and co-ordinate with the most effective and experienced humanitarian organizations working on the ground.
    The Canadian government can provide humanitarian assistance through established partners that have been working with NGOs in South Sudan for decades and that have
    73
    and#65532;close ties to the communities. They are best able and best equipped to meet the needs of those most seriously affected.
    South Sudan is facing a humanitarian crisis, and the existing medical services will not be able to keep up without help.
    Canada has a special role to play in South Sudan. We strongly supported the peace process that led to the 2011 referendum and the independence of South Sudan. The Government of Canada formed a task force on Sudan; it was made up of a dozen people in the Department of Foreign Affairs. That group coordinated Canada's approach to South Sudan in diplomatic, military and developmental matters. However, the Conservative government dissolved it in the fall of 2013, although the group was needed more than ever.
    We in the NDP are asking the Conservatives to work with the international community to
    and#65532;restore stability and support efforts to achieve a peaceful reconciliation in South Sudan. To do that, we must support and promote the United Nations Security Council resolution that provides stronger investigative tools for the United Nations mission in South Sudan and supports its initiatives to provide assistance and shelter for civilians caught up in the conflict.
    However, we must not stop there. Canada must use its diplomatic influence to make sure that women and members of civil society have a place at the negotiating table. We do not want to get involved with local politics. We do want to support the people by protecting international humanitarian law so that they can play their part in resolving the conflict.
    I will finish my speech with the reminder that Canada has a place among the key players and that we must use that place to help restore peace.
    Situation in the Republic of South Sudan
    Government Orders 10:05 p.m.
    NDP
    Heand#769;leand#768;ne Laverdieand#768;re Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC
    Mr. Chair, I would like to thank my colleague for her touching speech. I know that this is a
    and#65532;and#65532;very sensitive issue for her because she worked as a volunteer doctor in crisis situations. We see that people with first-hand experience understand all too well the urgency of the situation. The reality is that these are real human beings who are dying or who have nothing.
    Does she believe that Canada should also work with its partners to ensure the best access possible to aid workers on the ground?
    Situation in the Republic of South Sudan
    Government Orders NDP
    74
    and#65532;and#65532;Djaouida Sellah Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, QC
    Mr. Chair, I would like to thank my colleague for her question. She was right in noticing that
    this is a sensitive issue for me.
    Indeed, memories are coming back to me. I have seen with my own eyes children who were burned and severed corpses. I do not think anyone on this earth would want to see headless corpses and burned children.
    and#65532;Recently, I learned that the rebels were taking residents and separating them by ethnicity. The violence has reached such a level that we will soon be talking about genocide. Canada must use its leadership on the international stage to stop this massacre and prevent a tragedy like the one that occurred in Rwanda.
    Situation in the Republic of South Sudan
    Government Orders NDP
    The Chair Joe Comartin
    It being 10:10 p.m., pursuant to Standing Order 53(1), the committee will rise and I will
    leave the Chair.
    (Government Business No. 9 reported)
    Situation in the Republic of South Sudan
    Government Orders NDP
    and#65532;and#65532;and#65532;The Deputy Speaker Joe Comartin
    Accordingly, the House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 2:00 p.m. pursuant to Standing
    Order 24(1).
    (The House adjourned at 10:11 p.m.) Tuesday April 29th, 2014
    75
                  

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