SUDAN WATCH: Annan sees up to 24,000 UN peacekeepers for Darfur

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Annan sees up to 24,000 UN peacekeepers for Darfur

Yesterday, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan proposed a peacekeeping force for Darfur, numbering up to 24,000 troops and international police officers. The requirements for the force were outlined in a report to the UN Security Council, a copy of which was obtained by Reuters.

Aug 1 Reuters Irwin Arieff report excerpt:
Annan said the UN mission would require an initial deployment of up to 3,300 police officers plus 16 trained units of riot police, typically of 125 officers each, for a total of as many as 5,300 officers.

With the officers to be deployed at over 100 sites, covering about 80 percent of Darfur's population, "this would be a minimum option," he said.

As for U.N. troops, the force would seek to protect refugee camps, humanitarian supply routes and nomadic migration routes via a "framework of mobile infantry battalions," Annan said, outlining three options ranging from 15,300 to 18,600 soldiers, depending on the number of aircraft to accompany them.

The best option, he said, would be to deploy 17,300 peacekeeping soldiers along with three fixed-wing reconnaissance aircraft and 26 helicopters.

"This force represents an optimal balance of key operational capabilities and likely offers the fastest route to a secure environment and eventual return to normality."

Should just 13 helicopters be made available, the force would require about 18,600 troops and would be less capable of responding to multiple security incidents by air, "possibly delaying the return to normality and peace."

Should the force be equipped with 35 helicopters, it could get along with about 15,300 troops by relying more heavily on rapid-reaction forces while "sacrificing some security presence," Annan said.

The smaller force would be more vulnerable to bad weather and would carry "a higher degree of risk on protection of civilians," he said.

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