Peacekeeping forces in Darfur must have the arms needed to enforce a truce there, Prime Minister Tony Blair said Wednesday. AP report
May 9, 2006:
A UN Security Council meeting has demanded that rebel groups in Darfur join the peace deal signed last week.
Blair, asked about the deal during his weekly House of Commons question session, said it was crucial that Sudan drop its long-standing opposition to letting the United Nations take control of the force of 7,200 African Union peacekeepers in Darfur.
Sudan has said that the peace deal has largely addressed its objections to that transfer of power.
"Secondly, we have to make sure that in the new force that is deployed we have sufficient firepower that we are able to make sure that any agreement is properly policed," Blair said. "And we are looking at this now, urgently, with particularly the United States of America but other NATO partners to see what more we can do."
"The situation in Sudan is very, very serious indeed, there are thousands of people dying needlessly," he said.
Blair said the troubles in Darfur underlined the need for a standing peacekeeping force for Africa.
"In the end the problem in these situations is not just humanitarian, it’s that unless the opposing sides can be kept apart - and that requires military force - it’s very, very difficult for the humanitarian aid to be effective," he said.
May 11 2006 AFP Firepower needed to keep Darfur peace - Blair