Steinmeier Says Darfur Needs More Than Peacekeepers | Germany | News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 03.08.2007

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Steinmeier Says Darfur Needs More Than Peacekeepers

At the end of his three-day tour of West Africa Germany's foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier has warned that the UN-approved peacekeeping mission alone will not be enough to solve the conflict in Darfur.

One child refugee carrying baby on her back

Millions have been displaced and hundreds of thousands have died in the fighting

Speaking after talks with his Ghanaian counterpart Akwasi Osei Adjei on Thursday, Steinmeier spoke out in favor of further diplomatic efforts to end the four-year conflict.

Both men expressed hope that a meeting of rebel groups and UN special envoys starting in Tanzania on Friday would help to move things forward.

"We share the conviction that a military solution to the security situation in Darfur will remain difficult if at the same time the efforts under the auspices of the UN to strike a new accord among the various rebel groups are not successful," Steinmeier said.

Give diplomacy a chance

Steinmeier and a Nigerian sultan

Nigeria was Steinmeier's first port of call during his three-day African tour

Osei Adjei said diplomacy should be given a chance before countries such as the United States and Britain consider imposing sanctions on Sudan if it defies the peacekeeping force made up of United Nations and African Union troops.

A peace deal agreed in May last year failed to halt the fighting in Darfur where at least 200,000 people have died from the combined effects of war and famine and 2.1 million have been forced to flee since the conflict broke out in the western Sudanese region in February 2003.

The meeting in Arusha, Tanzania, which runs until Sunday, will bring together the UN envoys and rebel groups that failed to sign up to the accord. The aim is to set a date and venue for the start of talks between the warring sides.

The Ghanaian foreign minister also said he was "optimistic" the United Nations-African Union force could be deployed in Darfur this year and warned against further delays.

Time to act

Armed African Union peacekeepers on truck

The hybrid force will beef up the current African Union peacekeeping contingent

"The rains will be coming very soon, and it's going to be very difficult unless we keep this under control," said Osei Adjei. "Otherwise the human calamity will be too much for us."

The Security Council voted unanimously Tuesday to mandate a 26,000-strong force to take over peacekeeping in Darfur from 7,000 badly equipped AU troops in a bid to end four years of bloodshed in region.

The German foreign minister welcomed the development upon landing in Nigeria, describing the "hybrid" force as proof that African nations were increasingly assuming responsibility for
stability on the continent.

Germany has offered 200 soldiers to supply logistical support to the AU force but has ruled out any direct participation in the peacekeeping force.

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