UN African Union to ramp up deployment of peacekeepers in troubled Darfur
21 January 2009Hundreds more troops will arrive in Sudan’s strife-torn Darfur region within the next two months in an effort to boost protection of civilians, the African Union-United Nations mission there, known as UNAMID, said today. Additional troops are expected to arrive by March from Egypt, South Africa, Senegal and Bangladesh, and later this year, further troops will arrive from Nepal, Nigeria, Egypt and Ethiopia, UNAMID said. Tanzania has also announced it will send an entire infantry battalion of about 900 personnel and an advance party, including engineers crucial to UNAMID’s plan to expedite its deployment target. The hybrid force was set up by the Security Council to protect civilians on the western flank of Sudan, where an estimated 300,000 people have been killed and another 2.7 million have been forced from their homes since fighting erupted in 2003, pitting rebels against Government forces and allied Janjaweed militiamen.Earlier this week in Addis Ababa, the UN, African Union and the Government of Sudan met to discuss ways of accelerating the deployment of UNAMID to reach the strength of 26,000 military and police personnel authorized by the Security Council. At the end of the meeting, a Memorandum of Understanding on air operations was signed by the Government of Sudan and UNAMID to enable the latter to make a more effective use of the infrastructure of Sudanese airports to speed up the process.In December, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that UNAMID deployment had been delayed by continued fighting between the parties on the ground and the slow provision of units and equipment previously pledged to the mission.However, as the mission marked its first anniversary earlier this month, Mr. Ban confirmed that troop levels have exceeded 60 per cent of the full authorized strength.One year on from transferring the task of suppressing the violence to UNAMID from the AU Mission in Sudan (AMIS), some 12,374 blue helmets are now in place across Darfur, which is 63 per cent of the 19,555 authorized military personnel.In addition, on 5 January, two new contingents of Nigerian police officers trained in high-risk operations joined the mission, bringing the total number of Formed Police Units (FPUs) serving with the mission to five, following the earlier arrival of units from Bangladesh, Indonesia and Nepal.