U.N. Envoy Seeks Help on Darfur Violence

Steve Inskeep talks with the U.N. envoy to Sudan, Jan Pronk, about the western region of Darfur. Tens of thousands of people have been killed in Darfur since mostly non-Arab rebels took up arms in early 2003 accusing the central government of neglect. Pronk is asking NATO for help in resolving the conflict.

STEVE INSKEEP, host:

Even as the Sudanese deal with the aftermath of a long civil war, another conflict continues in the western region known as Darfur. We're going to go now to Jan Pronk. He is the United Nations envoy to Sudan. He's on the line. Mr. Pronk, welcome to the program.

Mr. JOHANNES PIETER PRONK (United Nations envoy to Sudan): Good morning.

INSKEEP: Darfur remains trapped in this conflict. Why have peace efforts there failed?

Mr. PRONK: The peace negotiations in Abuja have not reached any result because there is no built-in reason for either party to reach a result. Both parties still bet on two horses, political, as well as the military. The security situation in Darfur is quite chaotic. There are too many fighting parties and not everybody is in the security talks of the (unintelligible) ceasefire. The militia just continue to attack people in the villages, and for all these reasons I've asked the Security Council last week in New York to change the strategy.

INSKEEP: You have these militias that are attached to the government. You have rebel groups. You have civilians caught in between and you're saying that nobody sees any reason to negotiate seriously?

Mr. PRONK: Those who have the power, they just continue talking without any results.

INSKEEP: And when you say change the strategy, what do you want to do differently?

Mr. PRONK: I'm in favor of a positive reaction by the Security Council to the proposal by the African Union to organize a transition from African Union peace force in Darfur to a U.N. peace force which is bigger and longer term funded, and can be stronger. Secondly, I'm also in favor of bringing the political talks on the future of Darfur, to Darfur itself so that tribes which did not start the fighting can participate in these talks so that there is the most sustainable outcome, and to enforce thirdly, a ceasefire with sanctions coming from the international community.

INSKEEP: When you say you want the United Nations to take over the peacekeeping efforts there, does that mean you want Western troops on the ground?

Mr. PRONK: The U.N. is not asking to have a force over there but the African Union now has decided to support a transition and the Security Council and the United Nations should respond very quickly. A U.N. force should be based, in particular, on Africans. Enabling forces, engineers, logistics, mobility should come from other countries outside Africa because in these other countries the capacity to deliver is bigger.

INSKEEP: Ambassador Pronk, we've reached you in Brussels, which is the headquarters of NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, and as I understand it, you're in between meetings with NATO officials. Do you sense any eagerness to get involved among NATO officials that you speak with?

Mr. PRONK: I sense an eagerness of NATO countries to help the United Nations, sir, to be more effective. I don't think it would be wise to have a NATO force in Africa. That's not the intention, but support by NATO to a global force, a U.N. force, is highly desirable. I meet some constructive, positive responses to such a request.

INSKEEP: Jan Pronk is the United Nations envoy to Sudan. We've reached him in Brussels. Ambassador, thanks very much.

Mr. PRONK: You're welcome.

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INSKEEP: It's Morning Edition from NPR News.

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