New hope for Darfur peacekeeping deal
|By Times Online And Ap At The United Nations , 31 Août 2006|
The United Nations Security Council has passed a resolution that would give the UN authority over peacekeepers in Darfur as soon as Sudan’s
Government gives its consent.
This resolution will add muscle and funding to a peacekeeping force now run by the African Union which has been unable to stop the Darfur violence that has killed more than 200,000 people.
UN officials and aid workers say the crisis has only deepened in recent months, with rape, killings and other attacks in Darfur at a new high.
Yet the council cannot take any significant action on the resolution until Sudan reverses its opposition to a UN force.
The United States and Britain, the two original sponsors of the resolution, hoped that the vote would help put new pressure on President Omar al-Bashir to acquiesce.
"It is imperative that we move immediately to implement it fully to stop the tragic events unfolding in Darfur," US ambassador John Bolton said.
"Every day we delay only adds to the suffering of the Sudanese people and extends the genocide."
The resolution was passed 12 votes to nil, with China, Qatar and Russia abstaining. China and Russia said that they supported the contents of the resolution but wanted Sudan’s consent before adopting it.
By pushing ahead, China said, the Council only risked triggering further violence in Darfur.
The remote Darfur region was plunged into conflict in 2003 when ethnic African tribes revolted against the Arab-led Khartoum government.
The Government is accused of unleashing Arab militiamen known as janjaweed who have been blamed for widespread atrocities.
A peace deal signed by the Government and one of the ethnic African rebel groups operating in the region has had little effect.
One central element of the resolution would give the peacekeepers new power to intervene to protect civilians in Darfur. The current African Union force has had little authority to intervene to stop such attacks.
The resolution would place peacekeeping authority for the Darfur mission into the hands of a separate UN force already deployed in Sudan’s south.
That peacekeeping force, which now has about 10,000 troops, would be expanded to 17,000 military personnel and up to 3,300 civilian police to cover both areas.
In a new bid to win Sudan’s consent, the Council has planned a high-level meeting for September 8 to discuss the issue with Sudanese officials as well as representatives from the African Union, the Arab League and the Organisation of the Islamic Conference.