UN's Egeland warns against Western military force in Darfur: "AU force has to be strengthened, it's them that we have to empower"
"We have to be careful to calibrate the humanitarian and security response so it doesn't provoke a reaction," Egeland said. "I'd like to see the African Union and the UN play the lead role there, NATO and other organizations can complement and very usefully complement our efforts." AU force has to be strengthened "It's them that we have to empower," Egeland said.- - -
"We either get good news in the next few weeks, or we have catastrophic news later," Mr Egeland said in a telephone interview.
He said a major international conference would be held in June somewhere in Europe to try to boost humanitarian aid and assistance for the peacekeepers.
Egeland was in Brussels to meet top officials at NATO and the European Union. He said military powers should provide more resources to improve transport, communications, logistics, training and planning for the African peacekeepers.
However, he warned against deploying a Western military force, as some politicians in the United States have suggested.
Egeland said the Africans need more trucks and helicopters to move swiftly around the vast region. He said African nations also needed to provide more and better-trained troops and said the African Union should urgently bolster the force's mandate so it could better protect the local population.
"The African Union force has to be strengthened, it's them that we have to empower," Egeland insisted. "What can be provided by military organizations, by member states of the U.N. and NATO is very welcome."
Egeland recently told the U.N. Security Council that the number of displaced people in South Darfur had tripled in the last four months to between 100,000-120,000. He complained local officials have blocked fuel deliveries and the movement of aid workers has been severely restricted.
THERE IS NO NEED TO FAIL THE AFRICAN UNION
May 30 2006 VOA report via Sudan Tribune - Sudan gives mixed signals on UN peacekeepers - excerpt:
With the peace agreement signed, the African Union says it wants the United Nations to take over peacekeeping responsibilities in Darfur. And so does the United States - the Bush administration wants an initial force of 14,000 UN peacekeepers to take up positions in Darfur. But in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, some government officials are saying not so fast. And they include the man who actually signed the peace agreement on the government's behalf.
Mazjoub Al Khalifa Ahmed says the only force bringing peace to Darfur should be an African one. "Let us come up with something workable and practical that will not jeopardize the sovereignty of the country, and will maintain peace on the ground. There is no need to fail the AU and make a transition from the AU to the UN."