Annan to Bush: Help stop murder and rape in Darfur

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Annan to Bush: Help stop murder and rape in Darfur

Postby Chris » Sun Feb 12, 2006 7:59 pm

Annan to Bush: Help stop murder and rape in Darfur By Evelyn Leopold
Sun Feb 12, 1:41 PM ET

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Secretary-General Kofi Annan intends to ask President George W. Bush on Monday what the United States can contribute to a mobile UN force to stop the killings, rape and pillaging in Sudan's Darfur region.


The United States has offered military planners for the Darfur operation, which will arrive on Monday. But it has made no offer of air coverage or other assistance for the venture, expected to be comprised mainly of African and Asian troops, who form the bulk of all UN forces.

At issue is a transfer of command from an underfunded African Union force of 7,000 monitors and troops in Darfur to UN peacekeepers, a move U.S. Ambassador John Bolton promoted in the Security Council last week by drafting a statement asking the world body to begin contingency planning.

Annan said Darfur's plight, which the United States has characterized as genocide, was too dire for rich nations to pay but not participate in the mission, which will increase the $5 billion spent on peacekeeping last year.

"It is not going to be easy for the big and powerful countries with armies to delegate to third world countries. They will have to play a part if we are going to stop the carnage that we see in Darfur," Annan told reporters on Thursday.

Asked if Bush would be asked to participate, Annan said, "I will share with him the facts that I have shared with you, the needs that we have, and the countries that I think can supply those needs, and that will include the U.S."


Annan said he envisioned a highly-mobile force with APCs and jeeps and air support that "would be able to be on the ground when there is an SOS -- not to arrive after the harm has been done."

More than 2 million people are homeless and living in squalid camps in Darfur, a region about the size of France, partly as a result of targeted Sudanese government attacks in 2003-2004 when a rebellion over resources began. In January, tens of thousands of non-Arab villagers were uprooted again by the Janjaweed militia after the capture of a garrison town by one of the rebel movements.

The government and military deny they armed and gave air cover to the Janjaweed.

Peace negotiations among the rebels and the government in Abuja, Nigeria, have not made much headway, with a divided rebel leadership considered weak and the Janjaweed not at the table.

The United Nations has a peacekeeping operation in southern Sudan of about 7,000 troops to help keep the peace after a nearly three-decade old civil war.

That operation is also short of resources, with Russia only last week having approved 200 soldiers and four Mi-8 military transport helicopters, which the chief UN envoy in Sudan, Jan Pronk, had said were delayed for a year and greatly hindered the mobility of that mission.

Annan also plans to meet U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on a host of issues, his office said.

Sen. Joseph Biden (news, bio, voting record), a Delaware Democratic, suggested last week that NATO contribute to the operation.

"NATO is already helping the AU with airlift support and training," Biden wrote in the Baltimore Sun. "We should increase NATO's presence by deploying a few thousand NATO troops to work side by side with AU forces."

But the Sudan government would probably turn down any force under a NATO flag. ... _un_usa_dc
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