(The Guardian) – Tony Blair has asked Downing Street and Foreign Office officials to draw up plans for possible military intervention in Sudan, where more than a million refugees are at risk from famine and disease. Despite a heavy commitment of British armed forces in Iraq and other trouble-spots, the prime minister has had discussions with advisers for on-the-ground involvement of troops.The prime minister is still hoping that diplomatic and political pressure on the Khartoum government will resolve the crisis without the need for military involvement. But with conditions in hundreds of camps sharply deteriorating this week with the onset of torrential rain, governments across Europe as well as the US are facing calls for action to prevent a repetition of the Rwanda genocide 10 years ago that claimed a million lives. A government official involved in the discussions said Mr Blair was being given regular updates on the condition of the refugees in the Darfur region. “The prime minister has asked to look at all options that will save lives and not to rule out the military services,” the official said.
Three options for military action have been put forward in Downing Street :
· British servicemen to help with the delivery of aid.
· British logistical support for an African Union force of 60 monitors and 300-strong protection force being deployed in the Sudan .
· British troops to protect refugee camps being harassed by marauding militias. This creation of safe zones would be the most risky of the options and would require the agreement of the Khartoum government, which would be reluctant to give it.