Nairobi- Kenya (PANA) -- A global pressure group is calling on the international community to help the African Union (AU) double its peace keeping force in Darfur to 7,731.
The International Crisis Group accused the international community of failing to protect the inhabitants of Darfur, many of whom are still dying or face indefinite displacement from their homes.
The group, an independent, non-profit NGO with over 110 staff members on five continents, working through field-based analysis and high-level advocacy to prevent and resolve deadly conflict, says in a report released in Nairobi and Brussels Wednesday that new thinking and bold action on Darfur were urgently needed.
It noted that the consensus to support a rough doubling of the African Union (AU) force to 7,731 troops by the end of September 2005 under the existing mandate was an inadequate response to the crisis.
"The mandate must be strengthened to prioritise civilian protection, and a force level of at least 12,000 to 15,000 is needed urgently now, not in nearly a year as currently envisaged," said the group.
"This requires more courageous thinking by the AU, NATO, the European Union (EU), the UN and the U.
to get adequate force levels on the ground in Darfur with an appropriate civilian protection mandate as quickly as possible, which in practical terms means within the next two months," said the group.
Unless the protection force is beefed up, security in Darfur will continue to deteriorate, the hope that displaced inhabitants will ever return home will become even more distant, and prospects for a political settlement will remain dim, the ICG insisted.
While the UN and international NGOs have taken the lead in responding to growing humanitarian needs and authorising accountability measures against those responsible for atrocities, the AU has the lead for reaching a political solution to the conflict and monitoring the humanitarian and cease-fire agreements.
The AU Mission in Sudan (AMIS) has had a positive impact on security in some areas by often going beyond the strict terms of its mandate says the group.
It adds, however that AMIS' ability to protect civilians and humanitarian operations is hamstrung by limited capacity, insufficient resources and political constraints.
The assumption that the Sudanese government will fulfil its responsibilities and continued reliance on its co-operation as a pre-requisite for action against the militias with which it is allied are egregious self-deceptions, the group pointed out.
Khartoum's interest in seeking a lasting solution to the conflict is disingenuous, and it has systematically flouted numerous commitments to rein in its proxy militias-collectively known as the Janjaweed, it added.
"It has consistently opted for cosmetic efforts aimed at appeasing international pressure, minimised the political dimensions of the conflict, and inflamed ethnic divisions to achieve military objectives," claimed the group Taking a swipe at the international community for failing to take appropriate action on Darfur, the group said: Equally flawed is the concept that the atrocities are African-only problems that require African-only solutions.
"The well-documented abuses that continue to occur demand broader and more robust international efforts aimed at enhancing the AU's ability to lead.
"In view of the Sudanese government's abdication of its sovereign duty and to the extent that the AU cannot adequately protect Sudan's civilians, the broader international community has a responsibility to do so".
Civilian protection needs to become the primary objective.
The group recommended the deployment of a multinational military force with sufficient size, operational capacity and mandate.
It urged the AU to strengthen the AMIS mandate to enable and encourage it to undertake all necessary measures, including offensive actions, against any attacks or threats to civilians and humanitarian operations.
"If the AU cannot meet these objectives-numbers and quality of troops, and time-NATO should work closely with the AU to deploy its own bridging force and bring the total force up to 12,000 to 15,000 within 60 days and maintain it at that level until the AU can perform the such time its units would come under command and control of the NATO mission.