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SUDAN: UN envoy urges robust peacekeeping force in Darfur

3/22/2006 6:31pm

NAIROBI, 22 March (IRIN) - The United Nations envoy in Sudan, Jan Pronk, has called for the deployment of a vigorous UN peacekeeping force in the troubled western region of Darfur, saying killings, rape and human rights abuse in the area continued to threaten peace in the country.

"We must provide a future UN operation in Darfur ...and a strong force, not just to preserve lives, but to ensure that all Darfurians can choose to live wherever they want to and their children can look forward to a future that their parents were denied," Pronk told the UN Security Council in New York on Tuesday.

The Sudanese government had not disarmed the militia, Pronk said, adding that African Union peacekeeping force commanders openly spoke about continued support to militia by forces allied to the government. Demands laid down in Council resolutions had been brushed aside. "The ceasefire does not function," he said.

Pronk said the strategy of the UN should focus on two objectives: peace between the warring parties and protection of unarmed civilians. He called for a swift conclusion of a peace agreement at the ongoing talks in Abuja on power- and wealth-sharing, followed by a dialogue between all stakeholders in Darfur, including civil society, to make it sustainable. He said a so-called humanitarian ceasefire, guaranteeing humanitarian assistance and access to victims in the conflict, was insufficient and proposed a new comprehensive ceasefire to guarantee the protection of civilians.

The implementation of the peace agreement between the government and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement in southern Sudan was on track, he added, but security was still fragile. "There were security incidents, but we have been able to contain all of them and to avoid escalation," he told reporters after the Council meeting. He said he had asked the Council not to "cannibalise" the existing 10,000-strong force in the south, because of inaccurate perceptions that the situation was stable.

To consolidate peace in the south, Pronk called for a substantial increase in resources devoted to demobilisation, disarmament and reintegration and other post-conflict activities. "The reconstruction and development deficit in the south is the greatest challenge to peace. If not addressed, people will ask what difference peace has made for them," he said. "After the war, there are plenty of weapons for those who want to grab the scant resources to survive."
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