Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Darfur remains grim

The Secretary-General's new Darfur report is out. Among other things, it says that the total strength of Unamid as of 18 June is 11,359 personnel, which satisfied no one on the security council, according to UK Ambassador John Sawers. Of course, 7000 of those troops were holdovers from the AU force, so of the 19,000 additional troops that were supposed to deploy, we've got slightly over 4000 of those on the ground so far.

Many non-Western countries on the council are expressing dismay at the ICC indictment of President Bashir, saying that it will undermine the peace process. The counterargument, of course, is quite simple. THERE IS NO PEACE PROCESS. Quoth the report: "Human rights and humanitarian law continue to be violated by State and non-State actors. Across Darfur, civilians continue to bear the brunt of increased violence and growing insecurity as a result of recurrent fighting by the warring parties and military action by the Government. The killing and suffering of civilians during attakcs on villages underscore the failure of all warring factions to distinguish between civilians and military targets, in violation of existing ceasefire arrangements and international law." The report goes on to say that an additional 190,000 people were displaced in the past six months, that rebel factions are now openly fighting with each other, and... you get the idea.

Oh, and the commercial contractor building UNAMID facilities is "far behind schedule and has not performed as expected." Turns out, the UN, which customarily doesn't do no-bid contracts for such things, broke its own rule to allow this one to Lockheed Martin... and learned, just as the US has in Iraq, that no bid contracts tend to be a very bad idea. (Heads up to Inner City Press for some excellent and persistent digging on this issue.)

Interestingly, this entire peacekeeping effort has had a budget of $1.2757 billion since it was authorized on July 1 of last year. That sounds like a lot of money, and for the UN it is, but then you look at how much we're spending per day in Iraq, and this doesn't seem so bad. Of course, it would help if the force was actually, you know, on the ground, but you can't have everything in life...

p.s. I'm starting to think I need a vacation. Can you tell that I'm becoming more cynical on this page? Luckily, I've got my summer vacation coming up in mid-August. Just in time...

No comments: