Debates of the Senate (Hansard)

1st Session, 39th Parliament,
Volume 143, Issue 9

Wednesday, May 3, 2006
The Honourable Noël A. Kinsella, Speaker

Suffering in Sudan

Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer: Honourable senators, the situation in Sudan should have a whole-Sudan approach.

Over the past few weeks, there have been rallies, news coverage and a take-note debate in the other place drawing attention to the ongoing conflict and humanitarian disaster in the western Darfur region of Sudan.

For the past four years, I served as Canada’s Special Envoy for Peace in Sudan. This raising of awareness among Canadians and Canadian politicians gives me hope that we will continue playing an important role in Sudan over the course of this session of Parliament.

Honourable senators, I have been to many parts of Darfur and I can tell you that the suffering of the Darfurians is heartbreaking. Let me share with you what I go to sleep with every night as result of those visits.

I often visited refugee camps where I would sit with 13- and 14-year-olds who had been gang raped. As they sat in a corner at a rape centre, we stared silently at one another. They had no words to describe what had been done to them, and I could find no words of comfort to offer to those who had suffered such atrocities.

I continue to think about what I thought about then: How can Canadians help to heal their pain? Perhaps now we will.

Honourable senators, on behalf of our country, I have visited eastern Sudan where people are also living in camps. There is fighting in this region as well. I have had displaced mothers take me to the port district of the Port of Sudan and point out all the trucks of food going to Darfur while they and their children starve.

All I thought of then and now is, how can Canadians help feed these people? Perhaps now we can.

Last December I was in southern Sudan in the capital city of Juba. Just outside the city, the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) had destroyed a village. No one, including the UN, would go to that area. Alan Bones, our chargé d’affaires in Sudan, and Samia Ahmed and myself walked toward the village to find out what had happened.

The LRA’s modus operandi is to abduct children aged between nine and 14 to serve as child soldiers and sex slaves. They have also cut the lips, ears and noses of women. To see the women of this village with mutilated faces still showing the pain of losing their children is a fate I do not wish any of my colleagues to share.

All I thought then, as now, is how Canadians can help to protect the southerners who have suffered from 20 years of civil war. Perhaps now we can.

Honourable senators, when we think of Darfur, I urge you to also include other parts of Sudan. People in all parts of Sudan are suffering. Let us work for the whole of Sudan.

Our creator has given us such abundance in this country that perhaps we can help heal, feed and protect our brothers and sisters who suffer. Perhaps now we can.