The UN has suffered its first casualty in Darfur since it began a small-scale deployment in December.

Lieutenant Colonel Ehab Nazir, an Egyptian national, was shot dead at his home. It appears to have been a burglary, but the world body hasn’t ruled out other motives. We shall have to wait and see if the investigation gets anywhere.

The news comes only a day after Sudan was presented with a proposal for a UN-African Union hybrid peacekeeping force. The 23,000-strong mission would be tasked with protecting civilians and helping to restore law and order.

There are already about 7,000 AU troops in the region, but these are supposed to be augmented by several thousand UN soldiers sometime this year. As it stands, the world body has less than 180 deployed there.

A peace deal was signed by the government and one rebel group in May 2006, but it has yet to be implemented. The fighting has continued between the Janjaweed militia and local militant forces.

There is the ever-present danger that the conflict will drag Chad and the Central African Republic — countries to where many refugees have fled — into the conflict, potentially starting a wider regional war (Chad and Sudan support each other’s rebels, although they recently signed a “reconciliation” deal).

The situation in Darfur only serves to make a further mockery of the United Nations. It passes resolutions which nations are free to ignore, and often can not provide adequate resources to achieve its stated objectives. It is hampered by politics and the risk of losing the donations of member states. As long as this situation persists the UN will never live up to its potential.

The hybrid force proposal will come to nothing. The UN Security Council won’t even pass a resolution until Sudan agrees to the mission, which it won’t as it considers it too big.

I have written before (in another format) on the defunct nature of the United Nations. I will try to dig up that particular essay and upload it. In the meantime, this is a good blog on how the media has become disengaged with Darfur.

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