Attempts are being made to speed up plans for a new UN peacekeeping force for Sudan’s troubled Darfur region. The UN Security Council has voted unanimously to give Secretary-General Kofi Annan one month to prepare a range of options. Jean Marie Guehenno, Under-Secretary General for peacekeeping operations, said: “There is a sense of urgency, I think from everybody, that there are people dying, that there is still violence in Darfur that needs to be stopped.”
An African Union peacekeeping force of some 7000 troops is already in Darfur, but questions have been raised about their effectiveness. They are trying to protect villagers from marauding Arab militias. Thousands of people have been killed. The UN and the US claim the gunmen are being armed by Khartoum, an accusation the government denies.