Bush: Darfur Needs a U.N. Force Now

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The New York Sun

WASHINGTON — President Bush said yesterday that the United Nations should send a peacekeeping force to the troubled Darfur region of Sudan as soon as possible without further delay.

“The United Nations can play an important role in helping us achieve our objective, which is to end human suffering and deprivation,” Mr. Bush said as he dispatched a special envoy, Andrew Natsios, to the region. “In my view, the United Nations should not wait any longer to approve a blue-helmeted force — a. U.N. force of peacekeepers to protect the innocent people.”

The Sudanese government has thus far resisted mounting international pressure to accept a U.N. peacekeeping force in Darfur. Mr. Bush contends the U.N. should deploy such a force anyway.

Mr. Natsios said he had been going to Sudan for 17 years, and “I know leaders in all regions of the country, and I’m going to use those contacts and that history to move this process along.”

“I think what our objective is, is not just to have a temporary fix for two months but to try to deal with the root causes of this so we don’t have another fourth war in five years, should we end this one successfully,” Mr. Natsios said in an Oval Office session with Mr. Bush and reporters.

President al-Bashir of Sudan has refused to allow a U.N. force to take over for an ill-equipped and underfunded African Union force that has been ineffectual in bringing stability to Darfur.

A.U. troops were due to leave Darfur in September, but Khartoum has agreed to let them remain until the end of the year. One hundred U.N. military advisers also are due to join the A.U. in an effort to prevent more violence in Darfur, where more than 200,000 people have been killed and 2.5 million people have been forced from their homes since 2003.

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