Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Time to focus again on Darfur

Now that the Southern Sudan independence vote is over, it is time for the international community to turn its focus to Darfur. The government of Sudan has increased its violent actions in Darfur while the world watched the voting in the South. Fighting between the government and opposition groups over the last couple of months have forced thousands to flee the area.

From The East African, writer Kevin Kelley receives a statement from the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations on the latest armed conflict in Darfur.

Susan Rice, the US ambassador to the United Nations, deplored the latest round of killings in comments to reporters following a Security Council meeting on Darfur in late January.

Ms Rice also implicitly criticised the response of the joint UN-African Union peacekeeping force in Darfur known as Unamid.

“We expect Unamid, as one of the UN’s largest and most costly operations, with one of the most robust mandates passed by this council, to be very active and, when necessary, aggressive, in fulfilling its mandate to protect civilians,” Ms Rice declared.

She noted that Unamid’s access to contested locations in Darfur had been blocked by Sudan government forces on 23 occasions in recent months.

And she suggested indirectly that the civilian leader of the 20,000-strong peacekeeping operation, Nigerian diplomat Ibrahim Gambari, had not been sufficiently forceful in demanding access.

“It’s not subject to negotiation,” Ms Rice said.

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