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Darfur War - 2007

On January 11, 2007, talks between Jan Eliasson and President Omar el-Bashir, Sudan's President, had shown commitment to the resolution to put UN peacekeepers in Darfur, to aid in quelling the violence that had again erupted in Sudan. Jan Eliasson was the United Nations Secretary-General's special envoy to Darfur. The May 5th Darfur Peace Agreement, allows the UN to send peacekeepers to support the existing AU forces in Sudan. The first phase of the provision was initiated on Jan 11, 2007. This phase called for equipment and supplies to be delivered to the African Mission in Sudan (AMIS). More supplies and equipment are to be delivered in the following weeks. In addition, the first phase includes military advisors, police officers, and civilian staff from the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS). The second stage of the process calls for staff workers and more equipment, including helicopter gunships. The third phase covers the deployment of some 17,000 troops and 3,000 police officers to support or replace the under-staffed AU missions, creating a hybrid, UN-AU peacekeeping force.

As of January 12, 2007, the fighting in Darfur had claimed the lives of over 200,000 people, and forced some 2.5 million people from their homes, many seeking refuge in neighboring Chad. As of January 12, 2007 the government of Sudan as continually rejected a UN presence in the country. They had allowed, as per the Darfur Peace Agreement, UN peacekeeping troops into the country. However, these troops were only admitted as long as they were under AU command, and in support positions. These troops are mainly placed in technical support positions. Independent UN peacekeeping missions had been expressly forbidden.

The violence in Sudan had continued to increase, and as even turned on Humanitarian Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), killing aid workers, and disrupting humanitarian aid. The International Organization for Migration (IOM), and the 13 NGOs in Sudan had reported that as of July 2006, 12 relief workers had been killed. This was more than those workers killed in the last two years, combined. In addition, armed bands had attacked numerous NGO sites, and United Nations compounds. The violence toward aid workers had greatly reduced the scope of aid operations all across the region, compromising food, water, and medical services all across Darfur.

As of February 16, 2007, the violence in Darfur had continued to escalate. Rebel groups and government backed troops continue to battle all around Darfur, and its surrounding areas in complete disregard for the Darfur Peace Agreement signed last year, May 5, 2006. The violence had even included a bombing of two villages in Northern Darfur, by Sudanese military aircraft. The Sudanese government claims that the attack was made as a defensive move in response to rebel activities.

The Darfur Peace agreement made on 5 May, 2006 was an accord signed between the Sudanese government, and Sudan Liberation Movement, the largest rebel faction in Darfur. However, two other significant rebel factions refused to sign the accord, citing that it was not adequate in its power sharing agreements. The Darfur conflict began in 2003, when rebels took up arms in protest of Sudan's Islamic Regime, and it's neglect of Black African Darfur. The rebels charge the Islamic regime for decades of oppression, and economic marginalization. The rebels also want greater autonomy in the region. The Sudanese government responded to the rebels with a harsh military crackdown by the military, and the Arab Janjaweed militia, who are accused of committing atrocities against unarmed non-Arab civilians.

The rebel groups had since fragmented into many different groups, making it increasingly difficult to quell the increasing violence in the area. UN-AU coalition troops are finding it difficult to account for the violence in Darfur. They are trying to separate out the politically motivated actions by rebel groups, from violence done by bandits.

In addition, the violence began to spread into neighboring countries, spilling into the bordering regions of Chad and the Central African Republic. Eritrea, Chad and the Central African Republic are suspected of supporting different groups of rebels in the Darfur conflict, and had since accused each other of escalating the violence, and destabilizing the peace process through supporting their respective rebel groups.

On May 29, 2007, a UN officer was killed and a UN convoy was hijacked, robbing the passengers and stealing three vehicles. This upsurge of violence in the Darfur region had brought condemnation from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, especially against violence towards humanitarian workers and personnel working for the stability of the region. The UN officer killed was Lieutenant-Colonel Ehab Nazih, a staff officer from Egypt. The violence in Darfur had grown to levels, where Peacekeeping forces are being attacked, and are under constant threat.

As of May 31, 2007 no significant Peacekeeping force had arrived in Sudan. The previously agreed peace agreement makes provision for an African Union led, multi-national peacekeeping force to assist in the peace process. However, the Sudanese government had so far refused the entry of such a force. It was seen as very important that this force be led by the AU, and the United Nations would only had a support and be subordinate to the AU. The Force Commander will be African, and the peacekeeping force will had a predominately African Character. The Sudanese government fears the intervention of multi-national troops for what the Government sees as a wholly Sudanese issue. There are two options for the size of the military component for the peacekeeping forces. One offers 19,555 troops, while the other provides for 17,605 troops. The police force would stand at 3,772 officers.

On July 19, 2007 President George W. Bush said that he had considered taking unilateral military action to halt the mass killing running rampant in Darfur. The United States had officially called the killing in Darfur a genocide, however, it was facing difficulty in rallying international cooperation to halt a genocide. Other countries had not categorized the conflict as a genocide. However, President Bush instead opted for a multinational response, of which he admits "is a slow and tedious process to hold the [Sudanese] regime accountable." The United States as since placed economic sanctions on Sudanese leaders and companies to put pressure for change, and enforce consequences of the rampant violence.




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