Sudan: December 16, 2004


The government apparently launched a new offensive in Darfur in early December. The attacks on villages came just as the rebels and the Sudanese government --with African Union and United Nations goading-- settled down for a new round of peace talks. The peace talks collapsed December 13 when the representatives of the Darfur rebel Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) and the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM) left the peace talks (being held in Nigeria) to protest the attacks. The Sudanese government had agreed to a ceasefire in order to get the talks going again. In an apparent diplomatic tit for tat, the Sudanese government also accused the rebel groups of attacking government police near the Kalma (Darfur) refugee camp. There was no date given for the alleged attack, although it appears that there were four different attacks. The African Union planned to have 1500 to 2000 (of the 3300 promised) peacekeepers and ceasefire monitors deployed in Darfur by early December. The latest figures indicate that only 900 are there. Logistics support, especially lack of airlift, continues to hamper the deployment. The African Union still plans to have 3000 peacekeepers in place by December 31. This appears unlikely.

 Meanwhile, in south Sudan, the United Nations is looking for even more peacekeepers. On December 15 a UN Security Council envoy to Sudan said that a peacekeeping contingent would deploy to south Sudan within six months of a final peace agreement. The UN says it wants 10,000 peacekeeping troops for south Sudan. Given the proximity of Uganda and Kenya to south Sudan, as well as the road network south from Khartoum, it will be much easier to provide logistical support to the south Sudan peacekeepers than it is in Darfur (west Sudan). The issue left hanging is, "who is willing to commit 10,000 troops?" 




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