UN warns Darfur falling into anarchy, lawlessness
Sudan's Darfur region could fall into anarchy unless the 15-nation Security Council takes bold action and thousands of African Union troops arrive quickly, a senior U.N. official warned on Thursday.
Jan Pronk, the U.N. envoy for Darfur, told the council and a news conference the government appeared to be losing control in some areas of Darfur, with brutal militia it once recruited and the Sudanese military taking their own decisions.
He said rebels opposing the government were gaining territory but fighting each other for private gain so "we may soon find Darfur is ruled by warlords."
Some 70,000 people are estimated to have died in Darfur and 1.2 million have been driven from their homes into camps.
In early 2003, two African rebel groups revolted against alleged unjust treatment by Khartoum and Arab nomads over land and water resources. Arab militia, known as Janjaweed, helped the government retaliate and then raped, killed and pillaged African villagers.
Pronk said the Security Council, which plans to visit Nairobi on Nov. 18 and 19, had to put pressure on all the parties or "the United Nations would have no credibility."
The council's main mission is to make sure a peace accord is finally signed after years of talks between the Khartoum government and rebels in the south, which most believe also could be a blueprint for power sharing in Darfur, in the western part of the country.
Pronk said the council should threaten to cut off aid to the south, including a planned U.N. peacekeeping mission, if a deal were not signed by the end of the year. This would also have an impact on Darfur where rebels believe the international community would intervene if the Janjaweed attacked.
And he said council members should make players in the Darfur crisis understand they would be responsible for war crimes and not have a seat in any power-sharing arrangement.
"They will listen to it if the big powers say it ... with one voice," Pronk told the news conference.
Pronk said the African Union, which has about 1,000 troops and monitors in Darfur, needed to send far more than the 4,000 planned for a real military operation but without any direct fighting.
"We have to speed up and enlarge the AU. They have to be everywhere where there is a lack of safety and a lack of security," he said. "We need a military operation, not just monitoring, but to be there."
Several diplomats and U.N. sources say privately the AU may not be able to do it alone and are hoping any U.N. peacekeepers in southern Sudan could help out in Darfur also.
Pronk said Arab tribes drove their neighbors off their land two years ago to get more space for themselves and their cattle in an act of "pure ethnic cleansing." But now it was payback time, with rebels stealing cattle "leading to a survival of the fittest and death for the weakest."
The Security Council read out a policy statement telling the Khartoum government to stop forced relocations of African villagers from their camps, as occurred on Tuesday.
It also condemned "sexual violence and hostage taking that are now being undertaken in Darfur."