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UN’s Pronk slams international passivity toward Darfur

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Nov 26, 2006 (BERLIN) — Expelled head of the United Nations operation in Sudan Jan Pronk sharply criticized international passivity toward the Darfur crisis, in an interview to be published Monday by a German newspaper.

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Jan Pronk

The international community "has absolutely not reacted to this day against (Khartoum’s) violation of the Darfur peace treaty," Pronk told the daily Munich Suddeutsche Zeitung. "This must be registered. Any reply would have been better than no reply at all."

Sudan’s government ordered Pronk out of the country last month, but he retains his UN special envoy status until his contract ends in late December.

In the interview with the German newspaper, the blunt, former Dutch minister also strongly criticized Khartoum.

"The situation is very simple," Pronk said. "The government of Sudan has violated the peace treaty in Darfur to which it was a signatory. And it continues to violate this treaty. It bombs villages. It recruits more and more soldiers, instead of disarming the militias. It always seeks a military solution."

Pronk also called on world powers to finance an African Union peacekeeping force for Darfur to the tune of one to 1.5 billion dollars (760 million to 1.1 billion euros) a year — the amount he says would have been earmarked for a UN peacekeeping force rejected by Khartoum.

The operation should be composed of 17,000 soldiers from both Arab and African counties, Pronk said, so it is not perceived by Islamist militants as an occupation force.

Khartoum ordered 66-year-old Pronk out of the country after he reported on his personal weblog that the Sudanese army had suffered major losses in fighting against rebels in Darfur.

At least 200,000 people have died and 2.5 million have fled their homes in the strife-torn western region, according to the United Nations.

Earlier this month, UN humanitarian chief Jan Egeland appealed to all parties involved in the Darfur conflict to halt the "man-made disaster" there.

(AFP)

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