Guerrillas Derail Darfur Support Mission
The UN peacekeepers in Darfur are having many of the same difficulties currently being encountered by Coalition forces in Iraq. Christian Science Monitor staff writer Scott Baldauf explains:
Deteriorating security conditions in Darfur — a vast region of Sudan that is equal in size to France — are endangering the largest humanitarian aid operation in the world.
Today, aid convoys have become almost daily targets, with car jackings, armed robbery, and occasional shoot outs. In some cases, aid workers have been forced to abandon their operations in far-flung camps; in other cases, they have been forced to travel by helicopter, increasing the cost of bringing crucial food, shelter, and medical assistance to nearly 4 million people.
Sudan has agreed in principle to allow in UN peacekeeping forces, but the troops are not expected to arrive until next year.
“We can’t distribute food if we’re being shot at, basically, but when you’re feeding millions of people, failure is not an option and security is deteriorating,” says Simon Crittle, a spokesman for the World Food Program. “When you know who the rebels are, and who the government is, you can negotiate with them to get a food convoy through on a certain date. But when you don’t know who’s who, anyone can pull a gun and demand money, it makes it that much more dangerous.”
This is yet another manifestation of the global guerrilla phenomenon John Robb talks about at his blog and his book Brave New War.
Nation building operations are nearly impossible to sustain in this environment. While there were no doubt many serious mistakes made in the transition from the regime change to the reconstruction phase in Iraq, it’s quite likely most of the difficulties we’re now experiencing there would be with us even if our operations planners had the advantage of hindsight. Certainly, the peacekeepers in Darfur have no shortage of regional and international legitimacy and they’ve done nothing to topple existing institutions.