By Elizabeth Costner
Impunity Watch Senior Desk Officer, Africa
KHARTOUM, Sudan – Deployment of a joint UN-AU peacekeeping force to Darfur may be delayed due to several challenges in the region. On Tuesday the head of UN peacekeeping, Jean-Marie Guehenno, “complained that Sudanese government red tape and lack of resources are delaying the deployment of an international force to protect civilians in the war-stricken region of Darfur.”
The joint peacekeeping force, named UNAMID, was approved in July in order to eventually take over for the current 6,000 ill-equipped African Union forces that have been in the area since 2004. Khartoum has put up much resistance to the force, and only accepted it on the condition that it be mostly composed of African troops. Further demands from Khartoum have made it “impossible for the mission to operate” according to Guehenno. The UN is still awaiting authorization for non-African troops, land for the UNAMID bases, and authorization for night flights.
It is now five weeks before the scheduled deployment and transfer of authority to UNAMID and the UN and AU have both been facing problems getting the needed troops. The force is also short of critical mobility capabilities such as helicopters.
Additionally, the ongoing conflict between the government and rebel groups has made things even more difficult and dangerous for those in the area. Peace talks began in Libya on October 27 but have been boycotted by most of the rebel groups. Jan Eliasson, the UN’s top political envoy for Darfur says the atmosphere is less positive than it was this summer and that they “will only be able to make progress if the parties show seriousness, political will, and a focused commitment to peace.”
Violence in Darfur has displaced 30,000 people since October alone, brining this total for this year to 280,000. Since fighting began in 2003, over 200,000 people have died and more than 2.2 million have been displaced. On Monday, the International Crisis Group issued a report cautioning that new dynamics in Darfur could lead to an Arab insurgency, further leading to worries of increased danger.
For more information, please see:
AllAfrica.com – Sudan: Darfur Fighting ‘Displaced 30,000 in October’ – 28 November 2007
BBC News – Sudan ‘blocking’ Darfur mission – 28 November 2007
LA Times – Darfur may not get peacekeeping force – 28 November 2007
Aljazeera.net – UN: Sudan blocking Darfur force – 28 November 2007
AFP – Darfur peace force delayed: UN official – 27 November 2007
For more information on the Sudan situation, please see the following Impunity Watch reports: Threat of War in Sudan; Continued Delays in Deployment of Sudan Hybrid Force; Sudan Talks Falter; Upcoming Peace Talks in Sudan in Jeopardy; New Atrocities in Darfur; Ceasefire Ends in Sudan; African Union Peacekeepers Attacked in Darfur; Ongoing Conflict in Sudan; ICC Prosecutor Demands Arrests in Sudan; Secretary General Urges Sudan President to Commit to Ceasefire; Peace Talks on Darfur Scheduled for October