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Darfur Aid "Too Little Too Late," U.N. Envoy to Sudan Says

13 January 2006

Jan Pronk says large, well-armed force needed to stop violence

By Judy Aita
Washington File United Nations Correspondent

United Nations -- Describing the three-year-old international peace strategy for Darfur as "too little too late," the U.N. special envoy for Sudan said that much more must be done to stop the atrocities and bring peace to the troubled region.

Jan Pronk, the secretary-general's special representative for Sudan, told the Security Council January 13 that for the past three years, as the killings and ethnic cleansing continued in Darfur, "all we did was picking up the pieces and muddling through, doing too little too late."

Even though the ultimate responsibility lies with the perpetrators, the international community "should do more to stop them, to end impunity and to offer a perspective to the children of Darfur that they can live without fear," he said during a public meeting with the Security Council.

Pronk called the security situation "chaotic."  The Jingaweit militia have reached their goal, he said.  "Many areas have been cleansed.  They have free passage in the countryside.  Millions of villagers sitting in camps are too afraid to leave.  Terror continues."

At least once a month groups of 500 to 1,000 militiamen on camel and horseback attack villages, killing dozens of people and terrorizing the others, the special envoy said.

Despite Security Council demands, Khartoum has not disarmed the Jingaweit and other militia, he said.

Pronk said that a force much larger than the current African Union peacekeeping operation is needed.  The new force should be "present everywhere where people may be attacked," be strong and able to defend itself and deter attacks on civilians, be able to disarm the militias and Jingaweit, and stay in the province at least three or four years after the signing of a peace agreement.

The new peacekeeping force should be part of a unified approach to Darfur that includes humanitarian, political, police, legal, human rights, reconstruction and economic development components backed by sanctions on troop movements and arms deliveries, as well as on those who have caused the atrocities, he said.

Pronk said that at the AU-sponsored peace negotiations in Abuja, Nigeria, the parties have "lost all sense of urgency and do not really care about deadlines.  They talk but do not reach results.

"One wonders whether the negotiations really care about the fate of the 3 million war-affected people," he added, saying that the talks should not adjourn in anticipation of an eighth round.

As was the case in the North-South peace talks, Pronk said, the parties in Darfur should agree to a cease-fire while continuing negotiations.


Pronk and AU negotiator Salim Salim also met with the 15-nation Security Council in private session after the public meeting.

Security Council President Augustine Mahiga of Tanzania said that council members "see the need for reinvigorating the discussions and injecting a sense of urgency, which should include, among other things, putting pressure on the parties concerned."

Talking with journalists after the private meeting, Mahiga said that his statement to the press should be seen as a message to the parties and the international community for now.  However, at some point, "we may have to adopt another resolution," he said.  "But this will depend on developments and coordination among the Security Council and the African Union."

"It is the wish of the council that this round [of negotiations] in Abuja should indeed be the final round," the council president said.  He added that the council considers progress in the talks "very inadequate."

Noting there was a "sense of urgency" during the private Security Council meeting regarding sanctions, the president said members also want a report from its Sudan Sanctions Committee and are looking for more robust implementation of the sanctions currently in place.

The African Union, which has extended the mandate of its current peacekeeping units in Darfur to March 31, has accepted in principle the transition of its force to a United Nations peacekeeping force, Mahiga continued.

U.N. officials have already been discussing a much larger, more mobile force with tactical air support, helicopters and very sophisticated equipment and support.  It would also have contingents from countries outside of Africa. (See related article.)

For additional information, see Darfur Humanitarian Emergency.

(The Washington File is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)

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