Washington, DC - In the aftermath of the government of Sudan's announcement that it would accept the latest plan for deployment of the African Union (AU)-United Nations (UN) hybrid peacekeeping force, Africa Action urged that the plan be put on a fast-track and implementation begin immediately. Today, the UN Security Council will discuss the plan for international peacekeepers in Darfur. Africa Action stressed that the U.S. and other Security Council members must ensure that no more delays be allowed to prevent the immediate provision of a protection force for at-risk civilians and humanitarian aid workers.
This deployment of 17,000 to 19,000 troops would mark the third and final phase of the hybrid peacekeeping force first proposed in November 2006. While Sudan stated in April 2007 that it would accept a second phase or "heavy support package" of 3,000 UN personnel, that phase has yet to deploy in any substantial way.
Sudan's announcement yesterday followed negotiations in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and was greeted by the AU as an important step in addressing deteriorating security in Darfur. However, the government of Sudan attached certain conditions to this deal, insisting that the majority ofpersonnel in the hybrid force be African. Non-African troop contributions will only be solicited if African countries cannot meet the required numbers.
Nii Akuetteh, Executive Director of Africa Action, said today, "Sudan is allowing too many conditions in the deployment of the peacekeeping force. Such haggling and delays are unconscionable, causing more deaths and prolonged suffering among millions of innocent Sudanese in Darfur. Today, the Security Council must put the third phase deployment on a fast track. The U.S. must work to put pressure on key international players, such as China, to ensure that deployment is not held up."
Africa Action underscores that vigorous U.S. leadership to stop the genocide in Darfur is essential and that other foreign policy priorities must not trump the imperative to end human rights abuses. A report from the Los Angeles Times this week revealed extensive collaboration between the U.S. and Sudan in the "war on terror," as Sudan has cooperated with the U.S. in providing intelligence on insurgent activities in Iraq.
In the coming week, the UN Security Council will begin a trip to Africa, with a first stop in Sudan. Africa Action emphasized that this marks a key opportunity for the U.S. and other Security Council members to express to Sudanese President Bashir the urgency of the situation and the need for the removal of any obstacles to the deployment of the joint force.
For more information on Africa Action's Campaign to Stop Genocide in Darfur, see http://www.africaaction.org/darfur.