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Lack of Troop Contributions to Darfur Creates "Bottleneck"

07 February 2007

State Department says international community needs to step up commitment

Washington -- The three-phase deployment of an African Union-United Nations force in Darfur, Sudan, is facing “bottlenecks” because U.N. member states have not made firm commitments to contribute troops, and both international organizations need to work out the command structure of the force, the Bush administration says.

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said February 7 that the United States is “actively engaged” in the effort to build the force designed to provide security for Darfur’s inhabitants and humanitarian relief organizations and support the implementation of the Darfur Peace Agreement.

“[W]hat we need is a few member states to step forward, make the firm commitment that they are going to contribute substantial forces to the AU-U.N. force. That's what's needed. We haven't seen that yet. And it is important that the international system act in this regard,” McCormack said.

He said another “bottleneck” inhibiting the deployment of the force is the need for the United Nations and the African Union to put in place “the logistics and the infrastructure that would support not only phase one and phase two, but down the road phase three.”

He also urged the United Nations to “look at every possible way” to shorten its operating timelines concerning the deployment of the force.

In November 2006, Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir committed in principle under an agreement reached in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to allow all three phases of the force to deploy, but McCormack said so far the U.N. and AU have deployed only slightly more than 40 individuals out of a proposed 185 as elements of the first phase to provide mainly technical expertise.

In phase two, approximately 1000 individuals would set up headquarters and other infrastructure as “an enabling force” for the main body of the more than 15,000 troops who would arrive as phase three.

“[T]he member states of the U.N. need to now make the commitments of troops to that AU-U.N. force so that we can see if President Bashir will act on his commitments that he has made,” McCormack said.

McCormack acknowledged that the United States and the international community have “a number of different options” if the Sudanese government does not live up to its commitments.  He referred to the scenario as “Plan B,” but said the United States is taking Bashir’s word “at face value” and it is “premature” to determine that he is not committed to implementing all three phases of the force.

“In order to determine that, you need to have the forces generated to go in there, and we don't have those yet. And that's why it is so important that the member states of the U.N. step up and answer the call for these forces,” he said.

A senior State Department official said between 15,000-20,000 troops are needed for phase three.  So far, 46 U.N. military and police personnel have been deployed to Darfur under phase one.

“It’s time for member states to step up,” the official said, adding that while the United States is not being asked to commit troops, the Bush administration has offered to provide logistical support for the international force.

See also "U.S. Looks to Envoys' Visit To Help Break Darfur Stalemate."

For more information, see Darfur Humanitarian Emergency.

(USINFO is produced by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)

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