|11-05-2006, 02:36 PM||#1 (permalink)|
AKA: Chief Muppet
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Great Britain
Peacekeepers in Darfur pay fighters $1m a year
By Gethin Chamberlain in north Darfur, for The Sunday Telegraph
Last Updated: 12:13am GMT 05/11/2006
The African Union is paying out more than $1 million (£550,000) a year to warring factions in Darfur who are involved in blatant breaches of the peace deal it is supposed to be monitoring.
The cash-strapped organisation has been obliged to hire representatives from the Sudanese army and rebel groups in an attempt to negotiate access to the areas which they control.
An African Union vehicle approaches a checkpoint
Under the peace agreement signed in Abuja in May, the 7,000-strong African Union (AU) force is supposed to have freedom of movement across Darfur. Instead, staff say they cannot move without the permission of the various factions, who are using the cash paid out by the AU to fund their operations while simultaneously hindering attempts to safeguard civilians.
Col Richard Lourens, the South African officer, who commands the AU sector around the town of Kutum in north Darfur, said he had to give 24 hours' notice to enter some areas.
"It is very frustrating. The peace agreement states that we have freedom of movement," he added. "It is totally against the agreement that we don't. We cannot monitor freely, we can only monitor in consultation."
The AU mission in Sudan is so short of cash that its own staff have not been paid since August. Yet it is handing over salaries of $2,700 a month to dozens of representatives of groups that signed the peace agreement, including the Sudanese army, Sudanese Liberation Army Mini Minawi faction, Justice and Equality Movement, and the Free Decision Front.
Officially, every group sends its own representatives to each of the AU's eight sector headquarters to help monitor and investigate ceasefire violations. But their most important role is to sanction the movement of AU troops.
If the AU wants to run a convoy between two of its bases, it must secure the permission of every group that holds territory along the route. If one objects – which happens regularly – the mission cannot go ahead.
One AU officer described how the Sudanese army uses its representatives to keep AU troops in their bases while civilians are being attacked.
"They get their representative to tell us that they have heard there will be an attack on our base," the officer said. "That means we spend the night waiting for something to happen, while they get on with attacking whatever target they are going for. If we hear firing, the rep tells us that they have run into a group of rebels. The rep says it is too dangerous for us to go out in case we are caught up in the crossfire. So we have to wait until they say it is safe to go out – and by then it is all over."
The officer said rebel groups used the same ploy to prevent access to their areas when they were involved in military action, informing AU commanders that it would be too dangerous for their troops to venture out.
James Smith, chief executive of the Aegis Trust for genocide prevention, said the AU was being forced to pay to have its own work disrupted.
"It is outrageous that the AU, deprived of cash even to pay its own soldiers, should have to pay $1 million a year to negotiate safe passage," he said. "It reflects the absurdity of the situation in Darfur: the government of Sudan claims to be the peacemaker, yet has further armed the janjaweed (Arab) militia it was supposed to be disarming and now holds the AU to ransom, while it undertakes further offensives."
The end of Ramadan has brought an expected upsurge in violence as the Sudan's government and its janjaweed allies attempt to secure a military victory over the rebels. Scores of civilians, including 27 children, were killed in attacks on eight settlements in the Djebel Moun area of west Darfur last week. The United Nations said the attacks involved about 500 janjaweed members, riding horses and camels and supported by Land Cruisers mounted with machine-guns, prompting Kofi Annan, the UN secretary general, to call again for all sides to respect the peace agreement.
"The attacks on settlements, including a camp harbouring 3,500 displaced persons, caused scores of civilian deaths and forced thousands to flee the area," he said.
The African Union's mandate runs out on December 31 and in its place the UN Security Council has voted to send a 22,500-strong peacekeeping mission to Darfur, with a stronger mandate to use military force to end the fighting.
Sudan's government, however, opposes any UN intervention and wants the AU to continue its mission.
Last week, President George W Bush gave the first hint that the US might accept a compromise, when he omitted any specific mention of the UN in calling for "an effective international force" in Darfur.
|$1m, darfur, fighters, pay, peacekeepers, year|
|Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)|
|Thread||Thread Starter||Forum||Replies||Last Post|
|U.N. humanitarian chief: Darfur near collapse||Mr Hooky||Todays Headlines||0||09-12-2006 02:32 PM|
|CNO Names 2006 Shore Sailor of the Year||CFHSNJROTC||The Chief's News||0||05-27-2006 09:37 AM|
|Top 25 Celebrities "Searched For" in 2005||Navy6064||Between the Lines!||0||12-30-2005 04:46 PM|
|Nato backs military expansion in Darfur||Batgirl||UK Forces General Discussion||0||04-28-2005 05:38 PM|
|Army’s best compete in 3rd annual Soldier, NCO competition||SR-25||Army General Discussion||0||09-13-2004 06:24 PM|
|New To The Site?||Need Information?|