UN envoy Jan Pronk welcomed a list of Government pledges which he received today from Sudanese Foreign Minister Mustafa Osman Ismail, but he stressed the need for these words to translate into improved security in Darfur, widely viewed as the site of the world’s worst current humanitarian disaster. Mr. Pronk also expressed concern about the lack of progress so far on the ground and at the fact that the Janjaweed militia still constitute a threat around camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs). The envoy’s comments followed the recent killing of an IDP employed by CARE-International and the closure of a South Darfur camp by the Sudanese authorities.Reacting to those events, he noted that for three days the UN and humanitarian workers have been denied access to Kalma camp, and said this “will have serious consequences on the IDPs’ needs for relief and assistance, particularly severely malnourished children who require daily assistance in therapeutic feeding centers inside the camp.” While the issue is under discussion with the Sudanese authorities, Mr. Pronk voiced hope that “full access to the camp will be granted as soon as possible.” He has asked UN officials to visit the camp tomorrow.On 12 August, a crowd attacked some IDPs from an Arab neighboring camp hired by CARE-International because they were viewed as having participated in attacks. In addition to the IDP who was killed, another has been hospitalized. Two CARE-International staff members were held briefly in police custody but later released, while a third remains in detention.The Government authorities ordered the suspension of all humanitarian activities at the camp and African Union (AU) monitors were denied entry.
“However, if the price of such change is the sacrifice of this country’s amphibious capability, we can only conclude this to be a short-sighted, militarily illiterate manoeuvre totally at odds with strategic reality.”The committee dismissed MOD suggestions that the nation’s new aircraft carriers could take the role of the amphibious ships.HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales “are in reality no substitute for the purpose-built amphibious warships in this role,” the report concluded.Julian Lewis, defence committee chairman, said the proposal to axe HMS Albion and HMS Bulwark 15 years before they were due to leave service “demonstrates, yet again, the desperate inadequacy of the defence budget”.He said: “We must reinstate a target of around 3 per cent of GDP – the percentage which we spent right up to the mid-1990s, long after the ‘peace dividend’ cuts, at the end of the Cold War, had been made.He said that unless Mr Williamson got more money “the Royal Marines will be reduced to a level far below the critical mass needed to sustain them as a high-readiness Commando force”. The report concludes: “The world is changing and the Royal Navy and Royal Marines need to change with it. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. HMS Bulwark in 2015 conducted rescue missions of migrants crossing the MediterraneanCredit: ET WE(CIS) LOUISE GEORGE/MOD But a series of former senior officers told the MPs that cutting the ships would leave Britain unable to mount a major amphibious landing.While Theresa May and Gavin Williamson both rejected the proposals just before Christmas, MPs say that unless the Defence Secretary can secure more funding, the Marines remain at risk.Mr Williamson has launched a new defence review, but has continued to stress the need to find savings and efficiencies in the MOD budgets. Proposals to shrink the Royal Marines and axe amphibious ships in defence cost-cutting would be “militarily illiterate” and “totally at odds with strategic reality” MPs have warned.A report from the Commons defence committee says following through with leaked suggestions to dramatically cut amphibious forces would “significantly undermine” Britain’s security.The report also criticises the conduct of a Whitehall national security review saying it failed to consult experts and was carried out without any Parliamentary scrutiny.The National Security Capability Review begun last summer led to proposals to cut up to 2,000 Royal Marines as part of attempts to fill a £20bn budget black hole over the next decade.Suggested cuts also included the retirement of amphibious ships HMS Albion and HMS Bulwark, as part of wide ranging reductions to all three services. Yet, while every major defence power was seeking to increase their amphibious forces, Britain “may be forced prematurely to abandon them”.Johnny Mercer MP, a former officer in 29 Commando, said: “This report puts into sharp focus the folly of removing from this nation’s military capabilities the amphibious fleet, and reducing the Royal Marines.“In an area where every single other credible tier one military nation is expanding their Amphibious Forces, we cannot afford to be heading in the other direction, shrinking to the ‘little Britain’ so many of our foes would like to see.” The committee said global trends such as the spread of cities along the world’s coastlines meant there was an ongoing need for amphibious operations.