UN to send troops to Darfur, Sudan

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Map of Darfur, Sudan.

At least 26,000 United Nations (UN) troops will be sent to the Darfur region of Sudan in Africa under resolution 1769 in an attempt to stop violence from spreading and to protect civilians from the fighting. The force includes at least 19,555 troops and nearly 7,000 civilian police officers in a force being called the "United Nations-African Union Mission" (UNAMID). The UN Security Council voted unanimously to send troops to the region.

At least 200,000 people have been killed in four years of fighting in the region and more than two million have been displaced.

Troops will be sent to the region under Chapter 7 of the UN charter which states that the UN "shall determine the existence of any threat to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression and shall make recommendations, or decide what measures shall be taken to maintain or restore international peace and security."

Language authorizing the troops to seize illegal weapons caches and mentions of possible future sanctions if Sudan does not co-operate was removed during negotiations. The resolution does allow troops to monitor weapon caches.

"If any party blocks progress and the killings continue, I and others will redouble our efforts to impose further sanctions. The plan for Darfur from now on is to achieve a cease-fire, including an end to aerial bombings of civilians; drive forward peace talks ... and, as peace is established, offer to begin to invest in recovery and reconstruction," said the new British Prime Minister Gordon Brown on Tuesday while visiting the UN headquarters in New York.

Troops are expected to be in the region no later than December of this year but may take up to a year to fully deploy. This will be the largest peacekeeping force ever deployed and cost over US$2 billion per year to keep the force in the region. The resolution does not allow for more than 26,000 troops to be deployed.