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Activists turn to Blackwater for Darfur security

Financial Times (2008-06-19) Harvey Morris

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By Harvey Morris at the United Nations

Published: June 19 2008 03:00 | Last updated: June 19 2008 03:00

Mia Farrow, the actress and activist, has asked Blackwater, the US private security company active in Iraq, for help in Darfur after becoming frustrated by the stalled deployment of a United Nations peacekeeping force.

Ms Farrow said she had approached Erik Prince, founder and owner of Blackwater, to discuss whether a military role was either feasible or desirable.

She acknowledged that many people might have reservations about Blackwater being involved in Darfur - the company's men were involved in the fatal shooting of 17 Iraqi civilians last September - but said the threat of violence to refugees meant all options had to be explored.

"The people in the camps would say 'we don't care whether it's Blackwater, any-water, as long as they help us'," she told the Financial Times.

Mr Prince has raised the possibility of a role in Darfur for security companies.

Ms Farrow, who represents Dream For Darfur, a human rights group, and other lobbyists this week lambasted the UN Security Council for its "shameful" failure to halt killings in the Sudanese province.

The criticism came on the eve of a report yesterday by diplomats of the 15-member council who visited Sudan this month, with some envoys acknowledging the structure of the UN-African Union Mission in Darfur (Unamid) force was flawed and that the Sudanese government was not interested in seeing an effective international force on the ground.

The activists, who claim China has used the threat of its Security Council veto to prevent tough sanctions on its ally, urged the UN to stand up to Khartoum in the deployment of a 26,000- strong force. They said the Sudanese government had abused its right to approve contingents in an effort to ensure only relatively poorly trained and equipped African troops were assigned.

"How long will you continue to allow the government of Sudan to manipulate this body?" Ms Farrow asked council members. "Did Adolf Hitler get to choose which troops should be deployed to end his genocide?"

Sudan and its militia allies are blamed for most of the violence in a conflict with rebels in Darfur, the western province where the UN estimates up to 300,000 have died in the past five years. Sudan disputes that figure.

Richard Williamson, US special envoy to Sudan, said that since Unamid took over from a small African Union force in January only 585 more UN peacekeepers had been deployed and that the remaining two thirds of the planned force had been delayed by the Sudanese government and by a lack of equipment. "If we continue to do what we've done, the genocide in slow motion will continue," he said.

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Title Activists turn to Blackwater for Darfur security
Publisher Financial Times
Author Harvey Morris
Pub Date 2008-06-19
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Keywords Blackwater
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Topic revision: r2 - 2008-07-05, RaymondLutz
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