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Irish troops to keep peace in Darfur for UN

Henry McDonald, Ireland editor
Sunday August 5, 2007
The Observer

Irish troops will be deployed in the war-torn Darfur region of Sudan.

Irish government sources confirmed this weekend that up to 200 Irish soldiers would join the newly proposed UN multi-national force to a region of Africa which the United States and international aid agencies say is being subjected to genocide.

The Irish contingent is likely to be sent to Darfur at the end of this year or early in 2008.

But one of the oldest non-governmental organisations working on the continent warned last night that the UN mission announced last week will fail because of the dominance of African troops in the peacekeeping force.

Goal, the Irish aid agency, said the people of Darfur would not trust any international force comprised mainly of troops from the African Union. AU soldiers have been criticised for failing to stand up to the Sudanese armed forces and the Janjaweed, the Arab militia accused of committing war crimes in the region.

John O'Shea, Goal's director, said AU soldiers were 'ineffective, in many cases corrupt and totally untrusted by the people suffering the genocide.' Only troops from Western nations would be effective in halting the slaughter, O'Shea added.

O'Shea also called on the Irish government not to send troops under the current UN mandate. 'Joining an army which is entitled only to monitor a genocide, and hasn't permission to prevent it, is quite useless,' he said.

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