The United Nations wants to organize a Western-equipped rapid response force in Sudan.
Western diplomatic sources said the proposed force would take over the African Union peace-keeping mission in Sudan's Darfour province. They said the AU, whose mandate ends on March 31, has failed to obtain the funding and troops required to continue its presence in the war-torn region.
"We have already considered what the options are, and there are no decisions made, but it is very actively under consideration," U.S. envoy to the UN John Bolton said.
[On Saturday, Sudan rejected any proposal to deploy Western troops in Darfour, Middle East Newsline reported. Sudanese Foreign Minister Lam Akol Ajawin said the AU has not approved any UN involvement in the peace-keeping effort in the province.]
UN officials, acknowledging that international efforts to halt the war in Darfour have failed, envision a 20,000-member rapid-response force. They said such a force, equipped with helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft, must prevent Sudan's military and Janjaweed militia from continuing ethnic cleansing in Darfour.
"Many areas have been cleansed," UN envoy to Sudan Jan Pronk said. "They [Janjaweed] have free passage in the countryside. Millions of villagers sitting in camps are too afraid to leave. Terror continues."
Pronk told a briefing on Jan. 13 that up to 1,000 Janjaweed fighters attack villages on a monthly basis. He said dozens of people are killed in these attacks.
UN secretary-general Kofi Annan said the proposed rapid-response force would have superior capabilities to the AU unit. Annan said the UN force would be mobile and contain tactical air support.
"The force has to be mobile, has to have tactical air support, must have helicopters and the ability to respond very quickly," Annan said. "It would need very sophisticated equipment, [and] logistical support."
Annan said the UN mission must be approved by Khartoum. He said the UN would seek to convince Sudanese President Omar Bashir that the Darfour mission must contain troops from outside Africa.
"We need to get the government to work with us in bringing in an expanded force with troops from outside Africa, because until recently it has maintained that it will only accept African troops," Annan said. "But I think we have gone beyond that now."
Good luck convincing the architect of Christian genocide to accept any kind of non-ideological based forces.