Sudan: Telling the UN Where to Stick It

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May 30, 2006: Approximately 60 militiamen later fired RPGs at an AU base camp near Masteri and left five peacekeepers wounded. A UN spokesman said that based on the initial reports given the attackers probably came from the Abdelwahid faction of the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA). The Minnawi faction of the SLA signed the May 5 peace deal with Sudan. The Abdelwahib faction has not.

There is increasing evidence that there are factions within the Sudanese government that are very much opposed to any UN peacekeepers, and will try to stop the movement of UN peacekeepers into Darfur.

The World Food Program (WFP) will be able to increase food rations for refugees and displaced persons in Darfur and eastern Chad. Food and money donations from the US, Canada, the EU, and the Sudan government have increased food stocks. The WFP said that the daily ration will now be 1770 calories per person, which is still below the 2100 calorie a day minimum. However, the food allotment had been cut to half the daily minimum beginning in early May.

May 28, 2006: A faction of the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) may be responsible for attacks on AU peacekeepers in West Darfur. The faction, however, is identified as the National Movement for Reconstruction and Development. Like the SLA, the JEM "factionalizes" based on tribal affiliations and the emergence of a charismatic leader who will challenge senior leaders.

May 27, 2006: The UN peacekeeping force in south Sudan continues to increase in size. China reported that another 130 Chinese troops had arrived in south Sudan. China now has 430 troops with the south Sudan peacekeeping contingent. The Chinese troops are presently deployed in the town of Wau (south Sudan).

An African Union (AU) peacekeeper in Darfur was killed in an ambush in the Darfur region. The attack took place on a road near the town of Masteri (West Darfur State). Two other peacekeepers were wounded. The attackers were described as belonging to a militia. The militiamen were armed with rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs) and light automatic weapons.

May 25, 2006: Sudan agreed to permit a UN "assessment team" to go into the Darfur region. This as an indication that Sudan may eventually accede to a UN-led peacekeeping force in the region. A Sudan government spokesman, however, also said that a UN force should play a "small role" in Darfur. That was interpreted to mean the UN could observe but not be "a force for peace implementation." Another Sudan leader said that the Sudan government rejected "any role for foreign forces in Darfur." Sounds like another case of double-speak. An observer force in Darfur would be almost as vulnerable to intimidation as the current AU force (, ie, intimidation by rebels, by Janjaweed militias, and by Sudan government forces). An observer force with EU and/or NATO participants would have real political sway and media clout the AU peacekeepers lack. They would also be able to call on close air support (possibly from French aircraft in Chad) and ground reinforcements if they got into trouble. The Sudan military would understand that. The Janjaweed militiamen might not. Rebels might see the UN observers as an opportunity. Attack the observers and maybe more peacekeepers will come-- to oppose the Sudanese. Hey, this is the way these guys think. Someone tell George Clooney. --Austin Bay

May 23, 2006: The UN believes that the Sudanese government was impeding relief operations in Darfur. Sudanese restrictions on the movements of aid workers added another burden to the relief effort. UN observers note that rape and looting continue and driving people from their homes. If it sounds like crime plus ethnic cleansing, that's because it is. Sudan has not fulfilled pledges to use a special criminal court to prosecute war crimes and crimes against humanity. The UN feels that the Sudan government believes it can do what it wants with very little consequence.

 

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