Helicopters to Darfur — if Ukrainian politics or pirates don’t stop them

Neil MacFarquhar of The New York Times reports that some tangible good news for Darfur may have come out of the UN General Assembly.

United Nations officials emerged with a commitment for 18 helicopters for the peacekeeping force there from Ukraine. There were so many conditions attached by Ukraine, however, including using private contractors and getting approval from the embattled Parliament, that it remained unclear whether a solution for the long quest for 24 helicopters had really been found.

Given the tumultuous state of Ukrainian politics right now, this latter requirement seems a daunting obstacle. Plus, Ukraine’s last shipment of military vehicles to Sudan (if Kiev even knew that was their likely eventual destination) probably would have violated an arms embargo had it not first been seized by pirates. There’s certainly no embargo on equipping a UN peacekeeping mission, though, nor is there any doubt how desperately the blue helmets in Darfur need the helicopters, so let’s hope that the political hurdles are cleared and that the choppers don’t run into any sort of “air pirates” en route.