The President of the Conservative Muslim Forum, Lord Sheikh, speaks frequently in the House of Lords. While the full text of all Parliamentary speeches can be found in Hansard, we have collected some of his speeches on this website to make them easier to access.


23 JAN 2017

Sudan

The House of Lords debated a question asked by Baroness Cox:

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of recent developments in Sudan.

The full debate can be read at this link. Lord Sheikh spoke at 4.18pm, and his speech is reproduced below.

Lord Sheikh

My Lords, Sudan lies at the heart of a troubled region. A number of terrorist groups are visible and active in the region, including Daesh, Boko Haram, al-Shabaab and al-Qaeda. It is of course imperative that we do all we can to support the Sudanese in this respect. However, we must also build our relationship with Sudan more widely. Issues such as poverty, lack of education, lack of employment opportunities and wider community underdevelopment can fuel the marginalisation and frustration of young people, which can lead to the formation of extremist ​ideology. It is therefore only right that we seek to help Sudan improve its stability and provide opportunities for its people.

Last year, I led a delegation from your Lordships’ House to Sudan. Following our visit, we have established the APPG for Sudan, and I am the co-chairman of the group. The APPG has met Tobias Ellwood and formed an excellent connection with the FCO and our ambassador in Sudan. As someone who regularly promotes bilateral trade, I believe that much can be gained by both sides from increasing trade links with Sudan. I am pleased that a trade mission from the Middle East Association visited Sudan in December, and that a further mission, organised with the co-operation of our ambassador to Sudan, is scheduled for April. However, our Government should now send a trade mission to Sudan. There is also a keen interest in Sudan in establishing educational links between academic institutions. Following our delegation, Sudanese links are already being established with two major universities in England.

I welcome the fact that the United States has now agreed to lift the economic sanctions previously applied to Sudan. This is due to Sudan’s progress in improving humanitarian access, ceasing hostilities and enhancing co-operation on counter-terrorism. On that note, we must bear in mind the steps that Sudan has taken, and continues to take, towards combating the extremist threat. Sudan has developed an effective re-education and rehabilitation programme to reintegrate former extremists into mainstream society.

We should also acknowledge some of the good work already taking place between the United Kingdom and Sudan. We are the second-largest humanitarian donor to that country. We support health and medical programmes, many of which help children and displaced persons. Our APPG is sending a delegation of women parliamentarians to Sudan to look at issues relating to the health of women in Sudan.

Sudan still faces a number of challenges to do with extremism and other matters. We must, however, acknowledge the progress already made and help Sudan advance further. Adopting a hostile and isolationist policy towards Sudan will only make the country more vulnerable, threatening its people and the wider region. We should engage with Sudan and establish greater links, to the benefit of both countries and to help establish peace and stability in the region. Finally, I ask the Minister: what progress is being made on trade links with Sudan?

 

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