France in Darfur
We are pushing and pushing to save the Darfuris:
The conflict in Darfur has provoked one of the most appalling humanitarian crises: 300,000 people died and crimes against humanity have been reported; more than 2 million people have already been displaced and the number continues to grow; 4 million people now rely on food aid and other humanitarian assistance. And the fighting continues with bombardments, banditry and skirmishes between groups flourishing in a lawless and insecure environment.
The crisis could potentially destabilize the entire West Africa region. Sudan is the largest country in Africa. In Chad, 230,000 refugees are living in camps alongside people displaced by internal unrest. The Central African Republic is also affected by the unrest in South Darfur.
The pain of the people of Darfur demands quick and decisive action from the international community. That’s why one of the very first international initiatives taken by France after the election of Nicolas Sarkozy was to summon a ministerial meeting of the enlarged Contact Group on June 26, 2007, which the former Foreign Affairs Minister the Hon. Peter McKay attended. A consensus was reached on giving priority to a political solution brokered jointly by the African Union and the UN with a roadmap.
France has been instrumental in passing resolution 1769 of the United Nations Security Council creating the United Nations/African Union Hybrid operation (UNAMID) to bring security to Darfur. Once deployed, the UNAMID will count 26,000 troops on the ground. It will consequently be the largest peacekeeping operation currently in place in the world.
France is the driving force of the European operation in Eastern Chad and the North-Eastern part of the Central African Republic (EUFOR). The mission of the European force (mandated by resolution 1778 under chapter VII of the United Nations Charter, authorizing the use of force), will be to help protect civilians in danger, in particular refugees and displaced persons, and to facilitate the dispatch of humanitarian aid by improving safety in the operation zone. Following the generation conference on January 11, 2008, the force is expected to be 3,700 strong, 2,100 of which will be French. France will also provide 9 helicopters.
Lieutenant General Patrick Nash (Ireland) will command the EUFOR
Ten French NGOs, such as Doctors without Borders, are conducting emergency programmes in Darfur, primarily in the areas of health, water and purification, and food security.
It is clear that the deployments of two missions to ensure security on both sides of the Chad-Sudan border are the two sides of the same coin. The cause of the conflict in Sudan is deep-rooted: economic, environmental and political. A successful outcome needs co-operation from all parties and engagement from the international community. We are very grateful to Canada for having provided 400 millions dollars to protect the people of Darfur since 2004 and continues to provide 8 million a month to ensure the aerial transportation of the troops and equipment of the African Union. It is the combination of a ceasefire, a peacekeeping force, economic reconstruction and the threat of sanctions that can bring a political solution to the region./.
The French Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr. Bernard Kouchner comments on the situation in Chad