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Sudan: Peacekeeping Operations

Volume 474: debated on Wednesday 2 April 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what estimate his Department has made of the time needed to deploy the remaining 17,000 United Nations and African Union troops projected to operate in Darfur; what the main logistical difficulties are in deploying the full number; and if he will make a statement. (197171)

The UN-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) currently has approximately 10,500 personnel, including troops, police and other civilian staff. We understand further Egyptian and Ethiopian battalions, and supporting units, are due to deploy by the end of May. As one of the most complex and logistically difficult missions the UN has ever undertaken, UNAMID is unlikely to reach full deployment before the end of 2008.

Several African troop contributing countries require assistance with training and equipping prior to deployment; we are supporting with £4 million to assist their deployment. Delays in generating force capabilities, and lack of co-operation from the Government of Sudan, have also slowed deployment of UNAMID. We are pressing the Government of Sudan to expedite UNAMID deployment and we are working closely with the UN Department for Peacekeeping Operations in lobbying to fill capability shortfalls.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions (a) he, (b) members of his Department and (c) UK representatives have had with (i) members and (ii) representatives of the government of Sudan on (A) the current and (B) the proposed deployment of troops as part of the African Union/United Nations hybrid operations in Darfur; what concerns have been raised by the government of Sudan; what conditions have been (1) proposed and (2) attached to the deployment; and if he will make a statement. (197172)

My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister on 12 March called for the UN-African Union (AU) Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) to be in place as quickly as possible and on 19 March announced £4 million to support African troops deploying for UNAMID. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary called for the speedy deployment of UNAMID in a joint statement with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for International Development on 27 February. My noble Friend the Minister for Africa, Asia and the UN, the right hon. Lord Malloch-Brown, has repeatedly pressed the Government of Sudan to expedite the deployment of UNAMID, including during his visit to Sudan and the AU Summit between 28 January and 1 February. Our ambassador in Khartoum and other officials are also in regular contact with the Sudanese government on this issue.

The terms of UN Security Council Resolution 1769 reflect an agreement between the UN and the AU that UNAMID should be ‘predominantly African’ in character. This allows for non-African troop contributions, particularly where specific capabilities are required. The Government of Sudan has argued that sufficient troops have been pledged by African countries. We have pressed the AU and the UN to choose the troops needed to ensure an effective mission, irrespective of nationality. And we have called on the Government of Sudan to accept the force composition agreed by the UN and the AU and remove all obstacles to the effective deployment of UNAMID.