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Published:May 19th, 2006 11:20 EST
Genocide Intervention Network Praises AU's Bold Decision to Welcome UN Peacekeepers

Genocide Intervention Network Praises AU's Bold Decision to Welcome UN Peacekeepers

By SOP newswire

WASHINGTON, May 19, 2006 " The Genocide Intervention Network today commends the African Union`s decision to transfer control of the peacekeeping mission in Darfur, Sudan, to a United Nations force.

The transfer is a positive step toward ensuring that the civilians in Darfur are finally provided with adequate protection from a genocide that has continued for more than three years, GI-Net says. A UN force is therefore essential to ensuring that the recently-signed peace agreement is actually enforced on the ground.

Because of its limited capacity and mandate, the AU has been unable to stop hundreds of thousands of deaths and the displacement of millions of people, " says GI-Net Executive Director Mark Hanis. While the AU is currently the only force willing and able to protect Darfurians, they must be reinforced by the UN. "

Sam Bell, GI-Net Director of Advocacy, notes that a UN force has been instrumental in securing peace elsewhere in Sudan. Concerns over security and adherence to the peace deal are just as real in Darfur as they were in Southern Sudan, where the government approved a UN force to help keep the peace, " he says.

Yet despite the African Union`s declaration, the government of Sudan has failed to demonstrate clear support for the mission. Their arguments against the United Nations peacekeepers have ranged from concerns over imperialist interests of Western forces to contentions that the force is unnecessary.

The government`s assertions that the UN has no authority to establish a peacekeeping force in Darfur raise serious concerns about its commitment to the peace deal, GI-Net argues.

This is clear posturing by the government of Sudan, " Hanis says. Citing the Responsibility to Protect " report published by the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty, he notes that it is the responsibility of the international community to protect civilians when their governments are unwilling or unable to do so. "

The augmentation of the African Union peacekeepers with a UN force will likely take at least six months. In that time, GI-Net argues, the international community must continue to support the AU, while working to ensure that the new force is organized as efficiently as possible.

The United States has continued to pressure for action within the United Nations, as well as commitments from NATO. The UN Security Council supports the creation of the peacekeeping force and they are speeding planning efforts. The Genocide Intervention Network commends these efforts and encourages all nations to support the most comprehensive plan to end the genocide in Darfur to date.

Three and a half years after the genocide in Darfur began, the world now has a real chance to stop the slaughter, " Hanis said. Nations must work with all deliberate speed to ensure that human security in Darfur is implemented. "