Nairobi — EU member states have mobilised -12 million (about US $14.5 million) in support of the African Union (AU) peacekeeping mission in Darfur, western Sudan, according to a statement issued on Thursday.
The EU would fund an observer mission comprising up to 120 members, and a possible protection force of 270 military personnel, for 12 months, said the statement. The mission's mandate would be to ensure that the 8 April ceasefire signed in Chad by Khartoum and Darfur's two rebel groups would be implemented; to define routes for the movement of forces; to assess requirements for mine clearance operations; and to receive, verify and judge complaints related to ceasefire violations.
The funds would be mobilised for the first time through the Africa Peace Facility (APF), which was recently established to support African-led peacekeeping operations on the continent, it said.
"Resolving conflicts in Africa and bringing peace to the continent will first of all require effective and responsible leadership by the Africans," said Poul Nielson, the EU commissioner for development and humanitarian aid. "The Peace Facility is a new instrument that could become an important tool in the construction of the new peace and security agenda in Africa."
The APF had been established on 18 April 2004 to promote African solutions to African crises by providing the AU with the "financial muscle" to back up its political resolve with concrete actions, and to encourage African solidarity, the EU said. "Support to peacekeeping must be seen as an integral part of fostering development," it added.
On 28 May, the parties to the conflict agreed to the deployment of AU observers in Darfur to monitor the 8 April ceasefire, which has been repeatedly violated by both sides. An advance team of 10 monitors had been deployed to Sudan last week to prepare for a team of 90 monitors, including 60 soldiers, Desmond Orjiako, an AU spokesman, told IRIN.