ME and Ophelia

Saturday, July 24, 2004

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To join U.N. force into Darfur, Sudan

Australia is considering a United Nations' request for troops to join a mission to Darfur. Australia's Defence Minister Robert Hill said the UN had approached Australia for a contribution to the UN force, which was expected to be in place by year's end.

"The UN has pointed out a number of areas of specialty where they would appreciate assistance. We are looking at that, together with all our other obligations at the moment," he said.

Mr Hill gave no indication of the size of the deployment Australia was considering but said the specialist troops of most interest to the UN included engineers and medics. "They have got plenty of infantry offered, as usual it is more the technical support areas that they are struggling with," he told reporters.

"The force itself is still being fashioned and final decisions in relation to the force itself haven't been taken."

He said Australia was able to consider a commitment because of scaled down operations in East Timor and the Solomon Islands.

Hill said he believed the UN would insert an advance force within the next few months.
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Says head of the British Army

July 24: "If need be, we will be able to go to Sudan," said General Sir Michael Jackson, head of the British army. "I suspect we could put a brigade together very quickly indeed." Asked how many troops that would entail, he replied: "Five thousand."
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As a first significant step towards dismantling militias

Sudanese Foreign Minister Ismail responded to the above report in the Guardian newspaper by saying that Khartoum would withdraw government troops from the region if Britain sent forces in.

Seems Ismail better pipe down and get on with the job of arresting the Janjaweed leaders or he will be the one withdrawing himself from the region if the Brits and Aussies send forces in. He sure gets around and does a lot of chin wagging and wining and dining while tens of thousands of Sudanese that his government is responsible for, are starving to death.

Yesterday, Ismail had a late night meeting in Brussels with Javier Solana. Mr Solana is the EU's top diplomat. Bet he is a real smoothie with a first rate command of the spoken word. If Ismail doesn't listen to him, Khartoum won't *get it* - ever.

Mr Solana "strongly urged" Sudan to arrest the leaders of the Janjaweed *without delay*, as a first significant step towards the dismantling of these militias, which are held accountable for most of the human rights violations.

Earlier this month, EU foreign ministers threatened unspecified "measures" against Khartoum if it failed to act against the Dafur crisis. The issue is set to debated on Monday when the ministers meet again in Brussels.
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Over the past few months, I have seen reports that Denmark and Germany would be willing to send troops as part of a UN force into Sudan if necessary. Right now it would appear the UN is calling its member states to see who is willing to contribute troops. I've read somewhere that the French and Americans have troops in surrounding areas that could be deployed. More later.

# posted by Ingrid J. Jones @ 7/24/2004
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