SUDAN WATCH: U.S. to spend 40 million dollars on Darfur - 47 Nigerian troops arrive in Darfur

Thursday, October 28, 2004

U.S. to spend 40 million dollars on Darfur - 47 Nigerian troops arrive in Darfur

U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria John Campbell said Thursday his country has decided to spend 40 million US dollars to ensure the return of peace to the war-torn Darfur region of Sudan.

Campbell made the disclosure in Abuja, Nigeria this morning (Thursday) when he watched the take-off of the first batch of 47 Nigerian troops that left for Darfur to beef up the strength of Nigerian troops already in the area.

According to the ambassador, the US government will continue to provide support to ensure the return of peace to the region.
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47 Nigerian troops arrive in Darfur - more waiting to fly to Darfur on Saturday

Today (Thursday) 47 Nigerian troops, which comprised of four officers and 43 soldiers, left Abuja for Darfur aboard a US Air Force transport plane.

Before leaving the Nigerian capital, the troops received orders not to get involved in the 20-month-old conflict.

"There might be situations where you come across stakeholders in the conflict," Nigerian Major General Shekari Behubiliyok told the troops on the Abuja airstrip.

"You must be impartial and you must not be seen to support one side or the other. Neutrality is the guiding word."

The AU has given them a specific mandate to protect ceasefire monitors and safeguard civilians only if they are under imminent threat.

"The mission of the troops is a protection force to protect observers in Darfur. Our job is to restore peace," said Nigerian Lieutenant Colonel Rabiu Abubakar.

The reinforcements will bolster a force of 300 AU soldiers protecting 150 observers already in the desert region the size of France.

Nigeria expects to deploy another 350 troops over the next few weeks, bringing its total deployment to a battalion of 550, said an army spokesman.

Rwanda and other AU members are expected to lift the total strength to about 3,000.

Shortly after landing in North Darfur state capital El-Fasher, the headquarters of the AU Darfur mission, the U.S. transport plane left for Rwandan capital Kigali where more troops are waiting to fly to Darfur on Saturday.
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The fourth day of the Darfur peace talks stalled today (Thursday) making little progress

Darfur rebels refused to sign a humanitarian accord to allow more aid to refugees, insisting that it be signed together with a security pact that would disarm the Janjaweed.

Mediators have prepared a preliminary agreement on security.

The text calls for the government to identify and disarm the Janjaweed, while the rebels would be required to disclose the location and size of their forces.

The rebels said they needed more time to discuss the issue among themselves. The talks broke off, and are to resume Friday.

One observer said a "word game" was threatening the security discussions.

The Sudanese government is insisting that the word "Janjaweed" be removed from the text of a draft security accord, which would call for their disarmament.

"We are demanding for the word Janjaweed to be taken off," said Ibrahim Mohammed Ibrahim, spokesman for the Sudanese government delegation. It should be replaced by a broader reference to "outlaws or illegal factions or groups, who are not belonging to a tribe of specific area."

Rebel groups said that, with such a description included, the security accord would seem to be calling for their own disarmament, something which they are not willing to consider at present.
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UN says last Saturday, forces from the rebel SLA hijacked seven commerical trucks.

In West Darfur and South Darfur States, UNAMIS said IDPs were harassed by police about their links to the SLA, one of the two rebel groups. Many IDPs were also pressured to return home.


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