Leading article: Send in the United Nations


The already terrible situation in Darfur is deteriorating. The Janjaweed militia has resumed its attacks on civilians. Darfuri rebels have responded by targeting Sudanese government troops. A recent United Nations report estimates a further 200,000 black Africans have been forced to leave their homes in the past four months. The situation has been additionally complicated by rising tensions between Khartoum and the shaky government of neighbouring Chad.

The prospect of a genuine settlement between government and rebel forces seems as unlikely as ever. African Union mediators in the region have presented a draft agreement calling for peace and development to both sides at official peace talks in Nigeria. But seven rounds of talks have yielded nothing in the past.

It is also increasingly clear that the African Union force on the ground is unable to cope. We should not be surprised at this. The 7,000-strong troop deployment is under-equipped to monitor a road-less territory the size of France. And the April 2004 ceasefire they were originally called in to police was never really respected by either side.

The only viable solution at this stage is for a UN peacekeeping force to take over. The African Union's Peace and Security Council has agreed in principle to such a handover when its mandate ends in September, although the approval of the full AU is still required. The US is also pushing strongly for UN involvement.

Yet it will not be easy to get such a resolution through the Security Council. The Sudanese government opposes UN involvement in Darfur and is refusing to allow a UN mission to assess the situation. Without such a mission, there can no mandate for troop deployment. Summoning the will for action from the international community will be difficult, too. This is another poisonous legacy of the invasion of Iraq. There is little appetite in the West, outside the evangelical Christian right in America, for another open-ended military commitment. Khartoum's sabre rattling at the prospect of any foreign intervention is also a disincentive. A possible veto in the Security Council by China, hungry for Sudan's oil, must also be considered.

But a UN deployment is by no means impossible. The Security Council has already approved a 10,700-strong UN peacekeeping mission to monitor the agreement to end the civil war in the south of Sudan. This is an appropriate context in which to treat Khartoum's noisy threats. Another encouraging sign is that this week the Security Council imposed a travel ban and assets freeze on two government militia commanders and two rebels accused of abuses in Darfur. China and Russia abstained.

At last, there are signs of movement. Our own government must seize the initiative and do everything in its power to ensure UN troops are deployed to the region as soon as possible.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Packaging Operatives

£7 - £8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for two indivi...

Ashdown Group: Trainee / Graduate Helpdesk Analyst

£20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly reputable business is looking to rec...

Recruitment Genius: Estimator

£28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is a major supplier of buil...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer

£28000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

Read Next

The Top Ten: Words In Christmas Carols That Ought To Be Revived

John Rentoul
Polish minister Rafal Trazaskowski (second from right)  

Poland is open to dialogue but EU benefits restrictions are illegal and unfair

Rafal Trzaskowski
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas