BRUSSELS -- The United Nations' special envoy for Sudan appealed yesterday for European logistical help in urgently deploying thousands of African peacekeepers to Darfur, where months of conflict has killed more than 50,000 people and uprooted a million more.
Warning that the violence could spread instability across the continent, Jan Pronk said preparations to send a beefed-up African monitoring force must be accelerated to get troops to the region within weeks.
''The present tendency is slow progress, a small force and a narrow mandate. That has to be changed into a quick process, broad mandate, and a bigger force," said Pronk, who is to report to the UN Security, Council next week.
''I need thousands of feet. . .present in all places where there is insecurity," he said.
The 53-nation African Union agreed last week to expand its mission in Darfur and move thousands of troops to the area to keep nomadic militias from attacking local farmers -- provided Western nations and the United Nations give logistical support.
Such assistance could include planning, planes, fuel, and vehicles, Pronk said after talks at European Union headquarters.
EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana said he might travel to African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, for talks. ''The only thing [we] can do is to help with logistics and with communications," Solana said.
In a statement, the EU's head office said it ''would be favorable to providing additional funding for an extended mission."
The union is covering 60 percent of the costs of the current African Union's mission as part of a $340 million aid commitment to Darfur.
NATO is also studying a UN request to provide logistics backup.
Since February 2003, some 1.2 million villagers in Darfur have fled attacks blamed on government-backed militias known as Janjaweed.