GENEVA -- The UN humanitarian chief called yesterday for Arab countries as well as China, India, Pakistan, and Malaysia to pressure Sudan to accept a UN peacekeeping force in Darfur, saying a global effort was needed to end what he branded the ``nightmare" there.
Sudan's government has opposed a plan approved by the UN Security Council to replace a peacekeeping force made up of African Union troops with a 20,000-member UN peacekeeping mission. The new force would primarily be composed of African, Arab, and Asian troops.
The UN's top humanitarian official, Jan Egeland, said Arab and important Asian countries needed to lend their support to efforts led by Western countries to convince Sudan to accept the UN peacekeepers. He said African countries needed to do more as well.
``Help us, because we are desperate here," Egeland told reporters. ``It is not a Western project. It's a global project of solidarity with Sudan and the people of Darfur."
Egeland said the help of Arab and Asian countries was urgently needed because the situation was getting gradually worse.
``It's time to make the government of Sudan understand that this UN force is a global force," he said.
An estimated 200,000 people have died and more than 2 million people have been displaced in the Darfur conflict, which began in early 2003, when ethnic African tribes revolted against the Khartoum government. UN officials have criticized the government for supporting Arab militiamen blamed for rapes and killings.
Despite a May peace agreement, the violence has increased in recent months. Egeland said that militia groups have become more dangerous because they are now equipped with pickup trucks, machine guns, and rocket-propelled grenades.
Egeland said the violence has had severe humanitarian consequences, citing recent violence in South Darfur that caused aid workers to flee, leaving some 130,000 people around Gereida without necessary assistance.
``It was simply too dangerous," Egeland said. He described the gathering around Gereida as probably the largest concentration of displaced people in the world.