Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Kofi Annan: No Time for Apathy on Sudan

This morning's Washington Post carried an appeal from UN Secretary General Kofi Annan: Darfur Descending: No Time for Apathy on Sudan:

I wish I could report that all these efforts had borne fruit -- that Darfur was at peace and on the road to recovery. Alas, the opposite is true. People in many parts of Darfur continue to be killed, raped and driven from their homes by the thousands. The number displaced has reached 2 million, while 3 million (half the total population of Darfur) are dependent on international relief for food and other basics. Many parts of Darfur are becoming too dangerous for relief workers to reach. The peace talks are far from reaching a conclusion. And fighting now threatens to spread into neighboring Chad, which has accused Sudan of arming rebels on its territory.

Despite a chronic funding crisis, A.U. troops in Darfur are doing a valiant job. People feel safer when the troops are present. But there are too few of them -- a protection force of only 5,000, with an additional 2,000 police and military observers, to cover a territory the size of Texas. They have neither the equipment nor the broad mandate they would need to protect the people under threat or to enforce a cease-fire routinely broken by the rebels, as well as by the Janjaweed militia and Sudanese government forces.

On Jan. 12, the African Union decided to renew the mission's mandate until March 31, while expressing support, in principle, for a transition to a U.N. operation this year. The timing of this transition is still being discussed, including at this week's A.U. summit in Khartoum. This puts the Security Council on the spot. The U.N. Charter gives the council primary responsibility for international peace and security. And in September, in a historic first, U.N. members unanimously accepted the responsibility to protect populations from genocide, ethnic cleansing, war crimes and crimes against humanity, pledging to take action through the Security Council when national authorities fail.

The transition from the A.U. force to a U.N. peace operation in Darfur is now inevitable. A firm decision by the Security Council is needed, and soon, for an effective transition to take place.

posted by Fido the Yak at 11:26 AM.


Post a Comment

Fido the Yak front page