US special envoy to Sudan expresses frustration with UN Secretariat
Wednesday 18 June 2008 08:14.
June 17, 2008 (NEW YORK) – The US special envoy to Sudan Richard Williamson voiced disappointment at the UN secretariat for failing to move quickly on the deployment of peacekeepers to Darfur.
- US special envoy to Sudan Richard Williamson speaking to reporters June 18, 2008
“We find it very disheartening that six months after the transfer from the African Union (AU) to the hybrid UN-AU force that 6,900 African Union troops have been re-hatted. There has only been an addition of 585 new UN peacekeepers” Williamson told reporters at the UN headquarters today.
“The United States and others are engaged in training and equipping African peacekeepers to get to the ground. But we need more forward leaning by the UN secretariat to assist us” he added.
Washington has grown increasingly frustrated with the slow pace of deploying peacekeepers to Darfur and recently appeared to throw the blame on the UN for the delay.
The United Nations has for months been seeking six attack and 18 transport helicopters to support the force. But Williamson told UN chief last March that the UN should not be hung on the issue of helicopters needed by the Darfur force.
“The US has committed $100 million. We are training and equipping African troops in Rwanda, Ghana, Tanzania; enough to double the size this year. But as we sit here the UN doesn’t have the capacity to accept them” the US envoy said.
“Even though the budget for UNAMID this calendar year that ends in June is $1.27 billion, less than$300 million has been spent….We must do a better job of spending the existing allocated resources so more troops can get on the ground” he added in a frustrated tone.
Williamson also said that the Sudanese government must allow genetically modified products to enter the country so it can be used to feed the Darfur refugees.
The US official also lashed out at a separate UN peacekeeping mission in Southern Sudan (UNMIS) for failing to intervene in the clashes that broke out in the oil rich region of Abyei.
“We pay a billion dollars a year for UNMIS and they didn’t leave their garrison while 52,000 lives were shattered and nearly a hundred people perished” Williamson said.
“The devastation was complete…..U.N. peacekeepers and UNMIS staff in their garrison were as close as 25 feet away. Sudanese homes were burned to the ground and looting took place, despite the fact that UNMIS has a mission … to intervene to protect innocent people” he added.
Williamson also hinted that the UN Security Council (UNSC) may be looking at modifying the mandate of the peacekeepers in Darfur and the South.
“We should be looking at the existing mandate of UNAMID and UNMIS to get them more active” he said.
Asked about the support of Chadian government to the Darfur Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) Williamson said that the “US is taking a more active role in talking to friends and the Chadian government”
“Some of our friends are taking a more active role to curb mutual destruction going back and forth on that border [Darfur]…the US made its strong views known to the country of Chad and others who may be supporting that rebel movement [JEM[” he said.
The US envoy also said that the UNSC is discussing adding more individuals to the sanctions list.
But Williamson appeared careful not to direct criticism at the Sudanese government. This is the first time he made public remarks since returning from Khartoum after declaring that normalization dialogue with the Sudanese government has been suspended.
DARFUR ACTIVISTS BLAME CHINA
The US envoy was joined by Darfur activists who blamed the UNSC and particularly China for protecting the Sudanese government from sanctions.
“Not imposing consequences for such destruction and obstruction emboldens Khartoum to continue to undermine the security of Sudan and the surrounding region, and encourages other rogue regimes globally to defy the Council’s will” John Prendergast, a former Clinton administration official and Co-Chair of the ENOUGH Project told reporters.
“Since the war erupted in Darfur the Security Council has passed 9 resolutions and issued 19 presidential statements. However not one of these resolutions or statements have been imposed….the time has come to impose consequences” he said.
Prendergast warned Sudan’s closest ally that its economic interests in Sudan may be at risk unless they pressure Khartoum on resolving conflicts in the South and Darfur.
He said that following the clashes in Abyei, the Sudan People Liberation Movement (SPLM) who signed a peace deal in 2005, “are getting increasingly concerned that they are going to have to go back to war to fight for their independence referendum that is promised in 2011”.
“If that happens the very first target that the rebels are going to go after are the Chinese oil installations….they [SPLM] have learnt a lot about how to penetrate and undertake commando operations during these last 20 years.”
US actress and Darfur activist Mia Farrow also pointed fingers to China behind the escalating conflict in Darfur.
“I don’t think the government of Sudan could have continued in this way for more than five years without the knowledge that it has the support of a giant….and that giant is China” he said.
China has recently appeared to be toughening its tone with the Sudanese government.
Last week the Chinese president Hu Jintao urged the visiting Sudanese Vice-President Ali Osman Mohamed Taha to settle Darfur crisis by fulfilling its commitments with regard to the deployment of the hybrid peacekeeping force in Darfur and to accelerate the peace process with the rebels.
“Sudan should push forward the peacekeeping mission and political process in a balanced manner, quickly restore political negotiations and strive to ensure the talks achieve substantial progress” Jintao was quoted by state media.
Also earlier this week China endorsed a presidential statement urging Sudan to cooperate with the International Criminal Court (ICC). Last December Beijing blocked attempts to pass a similar statement.
International experts also say more than 300,000 were killed and 2 million have been driven from their homes by the conflict in Darfur, a region that is roughly the size of France.
Hello all, here’s an article I found interesting today in the Sudan Tribune. It’s a really good read, you guys should check out www.sudantribune.com for up to date information. China has made some effort, but can do so much more with their leverage in Sudan.