Tragic news out of Darfur shows that peacekeeping is a dangerous and deadly job.
Suspected Janjaweed militiamen have ambushed a UN convoy in Sudan’s war-torn Darfur, killing seven peacekeepers and wounding more than 20, dealing the deadliest attack to the six-month-old mission.
Armed with heavy weaponry and travelling in 40 vehicles, officials said gunmen ambushed the police and army convoy on Tuesday at Um Hakibah in North Darfur State, southwest of the peacekeeping headquarters in El Fasher.
Seven peacekeepers were killed and 22 were wounded, seven critically, UN spokeswoman Michele Montas told reporters in New York.
The peacekeeping force known as UNAMID, which is severely under-equipped and under-manned, has suffered a string of attacks since it assumed control from an African Union force in Darfur, gripped by escalating insecurity and banditry.
An attack like this demonstrates just how important it is that we support peacekeepers who are risking their lives in Darfur, doing a job that no one else wants to do. The Save Darfur Coalition says more:
“The Save Darfur Coalition vehemently condemns yesterday’s brutal attack on the UNAMID civilian protection force between the towns Gusa Jamat and Wadah in North Darfur. The U.N. Security Council must impose consequences on the parties responsible for this act of brutality — which comes just weeks before the one year anniversary of UNAMID’s authorization and violates numerous Security Council resolutions. Additionally, the attack underscores the need for the council to work diligently to ensure the full and rapid deployment of UNAMID — which currently only has one third of its authorized troops on the ground — and the swift delivery of necessary equipment if the force is ever to have the hope of fulfilling its mandate.”
Back in November the head of UN Peacekeeping warned of the consequences of mounting an under-equipped mission that lacked necessary force multipliers like attack helicopters. “If [UNAMID] was to know humiliation in the early stage of its deployment then it’d be very hard to recover,” said Jean-Marie Guehenno. His warning went unheeded. Now, after mourning the loss of these peacekeepers, we will have to turn our attention to the political fallout of this attack. Potential troop contributing countries in the developing world may be understandably deterred from putting their troops in harms way if support from the developed world is not immediately forthcoming. The tragedies of Darfur may compound.