August 18th, 2006 03:22 EST
U.S., U.K. Submit Resolution on U.N. Peacekeepers for Darfur
United Nations -- The United States and the United Kingdom introduced a draft U.N. Security Council resolution August 17 for the "expeditious deployment" of a U.N. peacekeeping force in Darfur.
After a private meeting with the Security Council to present the resolution, U.S. Ambassador Jackie Sanders said, "Hopefully, we'll get a resolution adopted quickly and unanimously."
"We hope the government of Sudan will do its part," said Sanders, the deputy U.S. envoy to the United Nations.
The African Union has informed the United Nations that it cannot continue to field its 7,000-troop mission in Darfur and has agreed that the United Nations should take over operations with a greatly enlarged, more robust peacekeeping mission in the area, where the security conditions continue to worsen. However, Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has opposed any U.N. mission in the region.
Sanders said there are a number of high-level talks going on with Sudan, including discussions with the United States, and the United Kingdom is sending an envoy to speak to al-Bashir. "All the countries of the [Security] Council and any country that has any influence with this government is welcome and encouraged to use its influence to get the president" to agree to the peacekeeping mission, she added.
The ambassador said that, according to the draft resolution, the consent of Sudan is not required, but "practically speaking, it's going to be useful to have the government on board" to get the U.N. mission operational.
"It's becoming more violent on the ground, and the humanitarian situation is getting worse as well. So we really need to move this forward," Sanders said.
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan told the Security Council earlier in August that there has been an upsurge in violence in recent weeks. Indiscriminate killings, rapes and abductions of civilians continue, he reported.
Calling July "a harrowing month" for relief workers, the secretary-general said that there were 36 attacks on aid operations and nine staff members were killed. As a result of the fighting and attacks on aid workers, only 50 percent of civilians affected by the fighting are getting help, he said.
Since its Security Council presidency in February, the United States has been pressing for the handover of the African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS) to the United Nations before the end of 2006.
In late June, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton noted that the U.N. target for taking over the peacekeeping operations in Darfur was January 2007, but Bolton said the United States believes "the handover can and should take place before that."
The United States is working to strengthen the existing AMIS mission, but Bolton said that "the sooner the U.N. takes control of the mission in Darfur the better." (See related article.)
The U.S.-U.K. draft resolution would authorize up to 17,300 military personnel, 3,300 civilian police personnel and 16 uniformed police units. Initial troop deployment would begin no later than October 1. It also asks the secretary-general to use existing and additional U.N. resources to strengthen AMIS prior to and during the transition, including using air and mobile ground units.
The U.N. mission would be deployed in key areas such as buffer zones and inside camps for displaced persons "to discourage violence, in particular by deterring use of force," the resolution said. It would "facilitate and coordinate, within its capabilities and in the areas of deployment, the voluntary return of refugees and internally displaced persons and humanitarian assistance … by helping to establish the necessary security conditions in Darfur."
The mission also would monitor cross-border activities of armed groups along Sudan's borders with Chad and the Central African Republic.
The Security Council will begin reviewing the resolution August 18, but no date has been set for a vote.
For further 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)