Sudan: Death of a Thousand Cuts For Peacekeepers


December 3, 2007: UN officials have begun expressing concern about the slow pace of troop contingent commitments for the hybrid peacekeeping force in Darfur. At the moment the lack of helicopters is a major worry. The UN-African Union force needs at least 18 transport helicopters. The force also needs a light observation (recon) helicopter element of six helicopters. The UN-AU command staff believes that the force will only have 9,000 troops when it becomes operational on January 1, 2008. The government constantly comes up with new obstacles, the latest one being a prohibition on night flights. The UN has protested, and may simply ignore this, and other government attempts to cripple the peacekeeping force.

December 1, 2007: A company (130 men) of Chinese Army engineers have shown up in Darfur, as part of the peacekeeping effort. One group of Darfur rebels declared China an "enemy" (because of its support of the Sudanese government) and threatened to attack the Chinese troops.

November 29, 2007: A $250 million contract to build support infrastructure for the Darfur peacekeeping force was let on a no-bid basis in order to save time. However, members of the Security Council are concerned that the contract may violate UN contracting rules. The last thing the Darfur force needs is a delay in building support facilities.

November 27, 2007: The Sudan government said that it would not allow peacekeeping troops from Thailand and Nepal to participate in the UN-AU hybrid force in Darfur.

Meanwhile, the pro-government Arab tribes of Darfur are having more "inter-tribal" conflicts. These exacerbate the fragile security situation in Darfur. The tribes are fighting over water rights and land use rights. Trouble has spread among "Arab" tribes, who are fighting over many resources they stole from the "African" tribes they chased from the land (and into refugee camps).

After a meeting in South Sudan, Darfur rebels have reached a cooperation agreement – of sorts. Five small factions have formed an umbrella group called the United Resistance Front (URF). Several factions that once belonged to the Sudan Liberation Movement/Army (SLM/A) have agreed to coordinate their negotiating positions. It is not clear that the SLM/A has actually been "reconstituted" as some reports suggest. There are still a struggle for leadership positions among the faction leaders.


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