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Darfur in the News

U.S. and European Media

January 10 , 2008

Darfur in the News

Associated Press: Darfur Peacekeeping Set Back by 6 Months. U.N. peacekeeping forces lack the troops and equipment necessary to improve the situation in violence-wracked Darfur and will continue to be ineffective until mid-2008, the U.N. peacekeeping chief cautioned Wednesday. United Nations officials are discussing with Ukraine and Russia ways of obtaining helicopters and other equipment while also considering pulling them away from other U.N. peacekeeping missions, said Jean-Marie Guehenno, the U.N. undersecretary-general for peacekeeping. Guehenno's warnings of "dire consequences" for Sudan, during a half-hour report to U.N. Security Council members, raised questions about whether the African Union-United Nations peacekeeeping mission that took over just this month can provide even for its own security. In his assessment, Guehenno offered a grim outline of the council's options and the many political and bureaucratic obstacles they face. The beleaguered A.U.-U.N. mission, as the latest international effort to quell the widespread violence in western Sudan, has 9,000 soldiers and police officers, but it is supposed to have 26,000. "We do not yet have guaranteed agreements from the (Sudanese) government on basic technical issues," Guehenno told the council. "The mission itself will not have the personnel or assets in place to implement its mandate for many months, even in the best-case scenario." "There is no good reason that these issues should persist ad infinitum," Guehenno said. "It is clear that these deployments must move more quickly if we are to have a material impact on the situation in the first half of this year." Guehenno, a former French ambassador and career diplomat, also told reporters that Darfur poses "the greatest risk for the United Nations" in a decade. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday reproached Sudan for its soldiers firing two days earlier on a U.N. convoy of more than 20 "clearly marked" vehicles protected by South African peacekeepers, who did not return fire, according to U.N. spokeswoman Michele Montas. The convoy carried Russian personnel to western Darfur; a Sudanese driver suffered seven gunshot wounds. Ban insisted Sudan now "has to provide unequivocal guarantees" it will not risk another such incident, his spokeswoman, Michele Montas, said.

Agence France Presse: Security Council, US slam Darfur attack. The UN Security Council and the United States Wednesday slammed a recent attack on a supply convoy of UN-African Union troops in Darfur as a senior UN official said Sudan admitted responsibility for the incident. Libya's UN envoy Giadalla Ettalhi, the council chair this month, said after consultations on Monday's attack in west Darfur that all 15 members "made it clear that the attack on UNAMID (the UN-AU peacekeeping force) was unacceptable and must never happen again." He added that all members "expressed their condemnation of any aggression on UNAMID or any other peacekeeping forces." "The United States condemns the January 7 attack by the Sudanese Armed Forces on United Nations peacekeepers who were traveling in a supply convoy in Darfur," State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said in Washington. Saying the attack "against peacekeepers in white vehicles clearly displaying UN markings is unacceptable," he said in a statement that it "demonstrates the need for a stronger arms embargo for Sudan." Jean-Marie Guehenno, head of the UN peacekeeping department, told the council that a Sudanese area commander had confirmed that "a Sudanese armed force unit fired upon a clearly marked UNAMID convoy" in west Darfur. But earlier Wednesday, Sudan's UN envoy Abdalmahmood Mohamad instead blamed Chad-backed rebels for Monday's attack. "If we had had helicopters capable of flying at night and quickly reinforcing a convoy under attack, of course we would have been in a position to deter, probably the attack would never have occurred," Guehenno said. He renewed his plea to member states to provide 24 crucial transport and light attack helicopters for UNAMID and for Khartoum to end its apparent foot-dragging in approving key non-African contingents for the force.

Reuters: China defends role in Sudan against Olympic critics. China on Thursday defended its engagement with Sudan, where its oil investments and close ties with the government have made it a target of growing criticism from rights groups ahead of this year's Beijing Olympics. Liu Guijin, China's special envoy to Africa, rejected any connection between the Darfur conflict with the Olympics and said China's investment in Sudan was creating wealth in a place whose wars were fundamentally about poverty and lack of development. "Blaming the Chinese government for everything the Sudanese government has done on the Darfur issue is unreasonable," Liu said in a question and answer session Web cast on, a government Web site. Liu said it was illogical to come to conclusions about China's role in Darfur based on its close relationship with the Sudanese government in Khartoum. "The Chinese government has never supported the Sudanese government conducting any massacre of its people," he said. Rights groups accuse China, a major investor in Sudan's oil industry, of fanning the violence with investments they say prop up the government and say the Olympics should be used as a chance to pressure Beijing on the issue. China has also been under pressure to leverage its close ties with the Sudanese government to push it to do more to resolve the conflict.


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