Russia said that its airlift to south Sudan will begin on April 20. A Russian contingent will serve with the UN peacekeeping force in south Sudan (UNMIS, the UN Mission in Sudan). The Russian forces arriving on April 20 include 120 troops, four Mi-8 helicopters, and support equipment, including a water purification system.
The number of "no go" areas in Darfur ("no go" due to violence) has increased since December 2005. The current situation appears as bad as it was two years ago. The government denies this is the situation. From the Sudanese perspective, these complaints are part of an organized political drive to put the UN in charge of the current (failing) African Union-led peacekeeping effort. However, since mid-2003, the most trusted reports have come from NGO aid groups and UN observers in Darfur.
April 18, 2006: Darfur rebels from the Sudan, belonging to the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) occupied the Sudan embassy in Chad's capital, N'Djamena. The Chad government subsequently evicted the Darfur rebels. Chad and Sudan broke diplomatic relations and Chad ordered Sudanese diplomats to leave the country. The JEM rebels saw an opportunity to strike a diplomatic and media blow at their Sudanese enemies. A Sudanese senior diplomat was apparently still in the embassy building.
Meanwhile, in Sudan's east, the Eritrean government said that Sudan had asked Eritrea to help it resolve the growing guerrilla war in east Sudan. Sudan wants Eritrea to "mediate" Sudanese negotiations with rebels from the East Sudan Front (also called East Sudan Liberation Front). The East Sudan Front (ESF) operates along the Sudan-Eritrean border in the Kassala area. The ESF is largely composed of Beja and Rashidiya tribesmen. Sudan's request indicates that it knows Eritrea has contacts with the ESF.
April 17, 2006: Qatar, China and Russia stopped a British proposal to place Sudan under UN sanction. Qatar, China, and Russia all serve on a UN sanctions committee. Some of this action is definitely "inside baseball" at the UN. In 2005 The UN Security Council voted to impose sanctions on "individuals" who were involved in the Darfur genocide. However, there has been no implementation, via the sanctions committee. Great Britain has been trying to move the process forward. The British proposal identified four individuals believed tied to war crimes (genocide) in Darfur. The US delegation said that it might ask the Security Council to vote again and force China and Russia to publicly veto the sanctions implementation.
April 16, 2006: In south Sudan two factions of the South Sudan Defense Forces (SSDF-- an independent militia force) engaged in a deadly firefight in and near the towns of Nasir and Ulang. The fighting began on April 15 when 15 people were killed (11 of them civilians). Late reports said a total of 17 people died in other fighting near the two towns.
April 15, 2006: NATO is once again considering sending a battalion to Darfur. NATO wants to serve with a UN-led peacekeeping force. However, several NATO nations have been supporting the African Union-led peacekeeping force. Earlier this year the USAF has deployed airmen from the 86th Contingency Response Group (based in Germany) to Rwanda to help transport AU peacekeepers. Germany has also provided airlift and training. The AU force's biggest need is logistics and communications support.