“Deploying a 26,000-strong peacekeeping force in conflict-wracked Darfur will take many more months, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Friday, citing growing insecurity and logistical difficulties.”
As of July 31, the force had just over 8,100 military personnel and fewer than 1,900 police on the ground.
This according to The Associated Press.
Had the so-called “hybrid force” combining A.U. and U.N. troops been in place by now, might it have prevented the gun battle last week at the Kalma refugee camp in South Darfur.
Witnesses said government forces massed at dawn outside Kalma, a highly charged camp in South Darfur that houses around 80,000 people displaced by the conflict and which the authorities have previously wanted to empty.
Kalma, described by one peacekeeper as the size of a small city, is awash with weapons and a stronghold for representatives of multiple rebel groups. The government has branded the notorious flashpoint a den of criminal activity.
U.N. officials said there were unconfirmed reports of 32 people dead and more than 100 wounded being treated at clinics in the camp after police in 60 vehicles drove into Kalma searching for weapons and sparking clashes.
We see the same problem in the U.N.-run refugee camps in Chad housing 250,000 Darfuri refugees. Those camps are bases for rebel groups fighting to destabilize Sudan. The difference is that, in Chad, U.N.-trained paramilitaries and E.U. troops (pictured) protect the camps, effectively siding with the rebels that operate out of the camps. If and when the U.N. force is fully in place in Darfur, it might just serve to metastasize the conflict by ensuring a safe haven for rebels based in Darfur proper.
(Photo: me. Thanks, Kevin Knodell!)