SUDAN WATCH: What makes the UN believe its peacekeepers would be able to protect civilians better than AU peacekeepers?

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

What makes the UN believe its peacekeepers would be able to protect civilians better than AU peacekeepers?

It would seem from the following report that UN aid chief Jan Egeland thinks UN peacekeepers would be able to protect civilians better than the current AU force. I wonder what makes him think so. The UN Mission in Southern Sudan is, as far as I can tell, under Chapter 6 mandate. A UN force in Darfur without Chapter 7 mandate would meet far more resistance than the existing AU Mission in Darfur.

I cannot understand why AMIS is allowed to be under resourced, demoralised and hamstrung. Its mandate in Darfur is to monitor a ceasefire agreement, not as a Chapter 7 protection force. Critics ought to give the AU troops the credit they deserve. Overall, they've carried out their duties professionally, proving themselves to be patient, disciplined, diplomatic and great ambassadors of their home countries. So what if rebel supporters prefer UN (read money) to AU - they should be thankful for the help they are getting against all odds, it's a lot more than what civilians are getting in northern Uganda where far worse things are going on. I've read that doubling of peacekeepers in Darfur - or even increasing the numbers by tens of thousands - would not make much difference unless the warring parties are serious about wanting peace. Greedy ruthless power hungry leaders of rebel groups SLM-Nur and JEM/NFR-Ibrahim aren't going to play second fiddle to SLA's Minnawi, are they? They're all wannabe John Garang's. None show great leadership skills or qualities making them fit to govern. Using a gun to fight for what you want is one thing, holding a position in government is very different.

Mr Egeland told a news conference on Tuesday that the mainstream rebel faction, led by Minni Arcua Minnawi, was in conflict with splinter factions of the SLA, Reuters' Evelyn Leopold reported July 12, 2006. Excerpt: SLA infighting had resulted in indiscriminate killings, rape, looting and the displacement of some 8,000 civilians over the past 10 days alone, Egeland said.

"It is heartbreaking to see that what the SLA groups had rightfully accused the Janjaweed of doing they are now doing themselves to the civilian population caught in the crossfire," he said.

Egeland said there were reports that government security forces were supporting attacks against splinter groups of the SLA. They were using white helicopters, the same color that the African Union, the United Nations and relief groups fly.

"This is again a violation of international principles and a dire threat to U.N. staff who go on the white helicopters that are neutral and impartial and should not be attacked," Egeland said.

He also said that humanitarian workers throughout Darfur were being attacked "on an almost daily basis."

Egeland said United Nations peacekeepers, which the Khartoum government opposes, were sorely needed because the 7,000-strong African Union monitoring force, the only bulwark against atrocities, was "not able to protect effectively the civilian population" nor humanitarian staff.


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