Den fransk-ledete EU-styrken som skal beskytte Darfur-flyktninger og hjelpearbeidere på Chads side av grensen, er blitt beskutt av Sudans hær. En fransk soldat ble såret mandag og en er forsvunnet. Styrken akronym er EUFOR, men det er ikke mye eufori å spore, hverken blant afrikanske ledere eller EU-landene.
Det har vært vanskelig å stable styrken på bena. EU-landenes forsvarsbudsjetter er skåret ned slik at det er vanskelig å finne nok helikoptre. Styrken skal patruljere et område på størrelse med Storbritannia. Økonomi er også en hindring. Deltakerlandene betaler, ikke EU.
EUFOR-soldater kom over på sudanesisk side av grensen mandag og ble beskutt.
Now that European boots are finally hitting African soil, the shooting Monday in Sudan of two French peacekeepers — wounding one and leaving the other missing — has shown the force could be headed for a tough time.
The French special forces troops in a jeep crossed inadvertently from Chad into Sudan, where they were fired upon at close range even after they identified themselves, said French Defense Minister Herve Morin. Other French troops later returned to the area to try to find the missing soldier; they were also fired on and fired back, Morin said.
In the border zones where eastern Chad, the northern corner of Central African Republic and Sudan’s Darfur region meet, the European force, known as EUFOR, will be operating amid rebellions and rivalries, conflict and geopolitical intrigue. They will be trying to provide security for some half-million uprooted people forced to take shelter in more than 130 refugee camps, villages and makeshift sites, over an area larger than Britain.
The force’s mission is not to secure the borders themselves, but to protect civilians, aid workers and U.N. personnel. So far, 14 countries have promised troops. A French diplomat said another two or three countries have also offered to take part.
But the force’s neutrality has been called into question by the fact that, of the 3,800 planned troops, 2,100 are coming from France — West Africa’s one-time colonial overlord that still calls the shots there, raising African hackles, even though French President Nicolas Sarkozy has promised a less colonialist approach.