Friday, January 14, 2005

Time for a no-fly zone over Darfur in Sudan?

A report via Reuters Jan 13 says Sudan defends its use of military aircraft in Darfur.

Bearing in mind that a UN resolution in November said Khartoum had the primary responsibility to protect its population -- and Sudan did everything it could to ensure any AU troops entering Sudan were low in number and hamstrung -- and Jan Pronk, UN envoy to Sudan, called on Khartoum a few days ago to stop military flights -- here is the excuse Sudan's foreign minister Moustafa Osman Ismail gave for carrying out a recent air attack:

Sudan's foreign minister Moustafa Osman Ismail (AP).

"The government used aircraft. According to the Security Council resolution, the government is responsible for protecting routes and protecting civilians," Ismail told reporters in Cairo. "If the African forces there cannot protect routes and protect civilians, then the Sudanese government must undertake that," Ismail said, adding that the government had a right to use planes in an area larger than France.

Ismail said the government did not carry out aerial bombardments but would investigate such accusations. "When we use aircraft, we do not use aerial bombardment. We do not use planes that drop bombs. This is different from helicopter gunship aircraft," he said. Ismail said that if key routes were cut because of rebel ceasefire violations then the government would not be able to deliver food and other supplies to the population.
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Hopefully, a no-fly zone will be one of the options under consideration by the UN Security Council when the findings of the UN investigation into genocide in Darfur are made public around January 25. As reported here earlier, Darfur peace talks were tentatively set for January 28 but another press report mentioned February 1. See how the days turn into weeks, and the weeks into months, and the months into years, while 10,000 die in the camps each month?

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