VIENNA, Aug 26, 2004 (dpa) — A sensitive U.N. mission to Sudan is presently being prepared by Austria and 13 other countries, the newspaper Die Presse said on Thursday.
The mission would be of the "Multinational Standby High Readiness Brigade for United Nations Operations" (Shirbrig), set up in 1996 to provide the U.N. with a rapid intervention force for peacekeeping missions.
Under Austria’s 2004 presidency of the brigade, preparations were already far advanced, said the report. Chief of operations, Austrian Army Colonel Ewald Hausdorf, said that building could begin any time of a headquarters for a U.N. mission in Sudan.
However, the report pointed out that a U.N. mandate was still lacking for operations in Sudan. It was not yet clear whether the planned "Unmisud" (United Nations Mission Sudan) would only monitor the ceasefire between the Khartoum government and Christian rebels, or also the conflict in Darfur in West Sudan.
The U.N. wanted to monitor both, but the Sudanese government was against this.
Shirbrig was founded eight years ago by Austria, Canada, Denmark, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland and Sweden. Since then, Finland, Italy, Ireland, Lithuania, Romania, Slovenia and Spain have also become full members.
Under coordination by the presidency, each country takes on set duties. For instance in Sudan, Austria would be responsible for setting up the headquarters in Khartoum. Austrian soldiers would have transport, guard and security duties.