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Military force may solve Darfur's problems

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Military force may solve Darfur's problems


Seven thousand African troops have spent the last four years in Darfur trying to keep the peace between state forces and anti-government rebels. But they have faced huge obstacles, not least Khartoum’s vehement opposition to their presence. The fact Sudan has accepted this latest, and significant, UN resolution is an indication of the pressure that has been brought to bear on it. Only last year Sudan’s President Omar Al Bashir was still insisting the international community wanted to use Darfur to colonise Sudan. But even Khartoum can see the humanitarian situation is getting worse everyday. Hijackings of aid vehicles have left many aid agencies unable to offer help where it is needed most. In the past it was often government restrictions which blocked the flow of aid. Now it is a plethora of rag-tag militia who dictate whether the four million starving people in the region get fed or not. Fragmentation of the various groups fighting for control in Darfur has turned it into bandit country, a lawless, dangerous, region where the lives of the innocent are held hostage. With the UN troops, which will still mainly come from African nations, now authorised to use force to clear the way for humanitarian aid it’s hoped a real difference can be made. But France’s Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner is worried the force will not be large enough. “With no political solution, sending humanitarian aid won’t be enough,” Kouchner said. “We are talking about 26,000 soldiers in a region bigger than France. It won’t be enough.” Khartoum also now believes military muscle alone will not be enough to calm the rebel uprising. It’s urging the various factions in Darfur to meet and talk this weekend. The peace agreement signed with only one of the groups last year is now not worth the paper it is written on given that group has splintered too.

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