BuaNews (Tshwane)

Africa: Continent to Give Troops to Hybrid Darfur Force

Addis Ababa — At least four African countries have agreed to provide troops for the hybrid United Nations-African Union (UN-AU) peacekeeping operation in Darfur.

This was stated by the Undersecretary at the Sudanese Foreign Ministry, Dr Mutrif Siddiq, in a press statement sent to the Sudanese News Agency, Suna.

Dr Siddiq said that these African countries include Cameroon, Rwanda, Nigeria and Egypt.

Sudan's delegation to the African Union meeting here at the level of permanent envoys has called on African nations to participate in the hybrid operation.

Dr Siddiq, who led Sudan's delegation to the AU meeting Thursday, affirmed Sudan's keenness that the main component of the hybrid operation shall be African.

He described the meeting as positive and discussed ways to provide common ground for implementation of Darfur peace agreement and co-operation for implementation of the Security Council resolution on the hybrid operation.

He appreciated the AU's efforts, adding that the Sudanese government was adhering to its declared stance on the stay of Darfur file at the African Union.

A positive outcome could be reached, he explained, through the co-operation between Sudan and the African Union and added that the meeting affirmed the AU's concern with solving Darfur issue.

The new hybrid force for Darfur, will improve security and humanitarian access, aid officials and analysts say.

The hybrid force was established by the UN Security Council and accepted by the Sudanese government on 1 August.

At least 12 000 aid workers operate in Darfur, where an estimated 4.2 million people are affected by the humanitarian crisis.

Twelve humanitarian staff were killed across Darfur in 2006 and five since the beginning of this year, according to the UN.

More aid vehicles have also been hijacked since, with the UN saying the hijackings have become more brutal.

The UN Security Council resolution authorising the deployment of 26 000 troops and police endorsed the use of force to protect humanitarian workers and civilians under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, condemned the violence and called for a stop to aerial bombardments.

Sudan's Foreign Minister Lam Akol told reporters in Khartoum: "We announce our acceptance of the resolution."

He said the revised and final text did take into consideration most concerns expressed by the Sudanese government about previous drafts.

"The Sudanese government sees that it can live with this resolution," Mr Akol added. "We will undertake to implement it faithfully; we expect others to also do the same."

Miriam Jooma of the Institute for Security Studies in South Africa, however, said: "We also need to look at the upcoming Arusha talks where political engagement will be discussed.

"It is important that the Chapter VII mandate was not compromised, although one missing aspect is that it does not give the UN the right to appropriate arms and related materials."

Troop-contributing countries are expected to announce their numbers within 30 days and the UN-AU Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) could establish operational capabilities by October.

Urging member states to support the operation, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the Council: "You are sending a clear and powerful signal of your commitment to improve the lives of the people of the region and close this tragic chapter in Sudan's history."

Only one of three negotiating rebel groups signed an agreement with the government in Abuja, Nigeria, last year and more recently, the groups have split into more than a dozen unruly factions.

The Arusha talks, planned for Aug 3 to 5, are expected to bring together the non-signatories. "Arusha represents an important opportunity," Ms Jooma said.

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