SUDAN WATCH: U.S. and Britain want UN to authorise troops for Darfur

Thursday, August 17, 2006

U.S. and Britain want UN to authorise troops for Darfur

Britain and the United States on Thursday introduced a UN Security Council resolution to send some 17,000 UN peacekeepers to the Darfur region of Sudan, despite opposition from the Khartoum government, Reuters (Matthew Verrinder)/Scotsman reported Aug 17 2006. Excerpt:
The resolution can be adopted without any consent from Sudan, US Deputy Ambassador Jackie Sanders said. But in practice troops cannot be deployed until Khartoum agrees.

"I hope that when we negotiate this text, there will be clarity from the government of Sudan that such an operation, favoured by the African Union and favoured by the Security Council should take place," Britain's UN Ambassador Emyr Jones Parry told reporters.

The draft resolution asks UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to work out a plan and timetable with the African Union for a transition and for sending in reinforcements no later than October 1.

The number of troops to be authorised in the resolution suggests 17,300. But this figure is not settled yet, and Jones Parry said he expected the number to be closer to 15,000.

HUMANITARIAN WORKERS ENDANGERED

Parts of the resolution are under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, which allows troops a greater use of force. Sudan objects to this provision, viewing it as tantamount to an invasion or occupation.

"I understand Khartoum and the perception they have with Chapter 7," Jones Parry said. "Those perceptions are not soundly based."

He said the resolution was meant only to support a peace agreement in Darfur and help endangered humanitarian workers who have been under attack in recent weeks. Eight aid workers died in July, more than in the previous two years.

Some diplomats questioned whether Russia and China, who have veto power in the 15-nation Security Council, would support any measure disapproved by Khartoum.

Arab nations, who prefer the African Union stay in Darfur, are also allies of Khartoum and have rarely criticised its policies in Darfur.

Should U.N. troops go to Darfur, Jones Parry said UN peacekeepers in the field would number more than 100,000, the highest number ever in 18 missions.

The United Nations already has close to 10,000 troops in southern Sudan to monitor a peace agreement between Khartoum and the former southern rebels.

The draft resolution follows a letter on August 10 to the council by Annan on escalating violence in Darfur.

"While the government maintains its firm opposition (to U.N. troops), the situation on the ground is deteriorating, and the AU mission's ability to function for the remainder of 2006 is being jeopardised by a funding crisis," Annan wrote.
[Note, the report quotes Sir Emyr Jones Parry as saying that should UN troops go to Darfur, UN peacekeepers in the field would number more than 100,000, the highest number ever in 18 missions]

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