Four largely related stories (updated to add the one from Reuters, which is a bit different):
European nations have yet to deliver on pledges to contribute troops to a UN force to be deployed next year in Sudan's troubled Darfur region, the head of UN peace missions said in an interview [on] Wednesday.
"For the time being, there haven't been many European offers," said Jean-Marie Guehenno in an interview to Le Monde newspaper.
"Some are still thinking about it. The Nordic countries are ready to take part. But we have not had any concrete offers for engineering units to dig wells, for example, nor for transport," he said.
"This is not good for the force."
After much international pressure, Sudan agreed earlier this year to the deployment of a 26,000-strong force under the African Union and the United Nations [in order] to help stop the bloodshed in Darfur.
Guehenno said [that] he was worried that the new hybrid force would not have enough transport equipment, such as trucks and helicopters, to police the province that is the size of France.
He also foresaw problems in assembling a 6,000-strong police unit to provide security at refugee camps.
The Darfur conflict, which the United States has called a genocide, has left at least 200,000 people dead and two million displaced since Khartoum enlisted Janjaweed Arab militia allies to put down an ethnic minority rebellion in 2003.
The head of U.N. peacekeeping operations says [that] European nations have been slow to offer support for a joint U.N.-African Union police force for Sudan's Darfur region.
In an interview published [on] Wednesday in the French newspaper Le Monde, Jean-Marie Guehenno says [that] the United Nations will have trouble meeting targets for an estimated 6,000-strong police force.
He says [that] the Nordic countries are ready to commit, but he says [that] he still does not have concrete proposals from other nations for high-level engineering units to dig wells or provide transportation systems.
Guehenno says [that] he is most worried that the joint force will not have enough trucks, helicopters, and transport equipment to police the region.
The U.N. Security Council authorized in July the deployment of 26,000 U.N. and African Union peacekeepers to Darfur. Sudan has said [that] it will accept the force, and will cooperate with its implementation.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged Sudan's government earlier this week to commit to a cease-fire in Darfur, ahead of political negotiations next month.
Mr. Ban said [on] Tuesday [that] Sudan's government must redouble its efforts to maintain a positive momentum toward peace. He urged Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir to manage the path toward peace with utmost care, saying [that] the process is very fragile.
The secretary-general also said [that] he is very concerned at the recurrence of violence in Darfur.
Peace talks between Sudan's government and Darfur rebels are set to take place in Libya, beginning [on] October 27. One Darfur rebel group, the Sudanese Liberation Army, has already said [that] it will boycott the talks.
From the AP...
The head of U.N. peacekeeping operations said in an interview published [on] Wednesday that he fears a shortage of helicopters, trucks, and other transport equipment for a new U.N. force in Darfur.
Jean-Marie Guehenno also criticized a shortage of support from Europe for a 26,000-strong force for the troubled Sudanese region, and said [that] the U.N. will have trouble mustering the police force [that] it wants.
"It's true that there aren't a lot of offers from Europe at the moment," Guehenno told Le Monde newspaper. "The Nordics are ready to commit, but we don't have concrete proposals for high-level engineering units — to dig wells, for example — or for transportation."
The United Nations and the African Union have led months of difficult talks with Sudan's government on deployment of the joint AU-U.N. peacekeeping force in Darfur, which was finally approved [on] July 31.
"We've received offers for most of its elements," Guehenno said. "But we'll have to see if these troops will have the needed equipment, especially for the first important waves to set up the mission without delay."
"What worries me the most is the lack of tactical transport, trucks, helicopters," Guehenno said. He also said [that] the U.N. will have trouble meeting targets for an estimated 6,000-strong police force.
The peacekeeping chief also said that a recent upsurge in violence and splintering of rebel movements was a cause for concern, saying [that] that raised the need for a robust force in Darfur.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir [on] Tuesday to commit to a cease-fire in Darfur, warning that the upsurge in fighting could damage negotiations to take place in Libya next month aimed at ending the four-year conflict.
The fighting has claimed more than 200,000 lives and uprooted more than 2.5 million people.
One of Darfur's most-powerful rebel leaders will not take part in peace talks until a lasting ceasefire is put in place and security is restored, he said in an interview published on Wednesday.
Abdel Wahed Mohamed el-Nur has refused to join Darfur rebel commanders and groups who agreed [on] a joint position last month, saying [that] he wants international troops to disarm militias [in order] to secure the region before talks with the government.
In an interview with French newspaper Le Monde, Nur, whose backing is key to any peace deal, stuck to his position.
"I will refuse to take part in political negotiations, as long as my people continue on the ground to be massacred, raped, colonised," he said.
Nur commands few troops, but enjoys huge support among the 2.5 million people who have fled their homes to camps in Darfur and across the border in Chad during 4-1/2 years of fighting.
Mostly non-Arab rebels took up arms in early 2003, accusing central government of marginalising the arid west. Khartoum mobilised militias, known as Janjaweed, to quell the revolt.
An 2006 peace deal was signed by only one of three negotiating factions, Nur's rival Minni Arcua Minnawi.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on Monday that recent fighting in Darfur could derail peace talks [that] he has announced will start in Libya next month.
Ban announced the talks jointly with the Sudanese government on September 6. He has reminded Khartoum that it promised a full cessation of hostilities ahead of the talks, due to start [on] October 27.
FEW EUROPEAN PEACEKEEPERS
"We are asking the international community for one thing and one thing only: security," Nur was quoted as saying. The newspaper said [that] he wanted an end to violence and a ceasefire in place, before he would take part in talks.
The United Nations has approved a 26,000-strong U.N. and African Union peacekeeping force for Darfur.
The head of U.N. peacekeeping, Jean-Marie Guehenno, told Le Monde [that] he was having trouble putting together the force's planned contingent of 6,000 policemen.
Further checks were needed to assess individual countries' offers to supply troops for the force, most of whose members are expected to be African.
"We have offers for most of the components. But we will have to verify whether these have the necessary equipment, especially for the first large waves to establish the mission without delay," Guehenno said.
"What worries me the most is the lack of technical transportation, trucks, helicopters," he added.
European countries, many of which have been vocal about the urgent need to help Darfur, have been slow in offering manpower, he said.
"It is true that there are not many European offers for the moment. Some are thinking, the Nordic countries are ready to commit themselves, but we do not have concrete proposals for high-level engineering units, to drill wells for example, or for transportation," he said.