NATO chief off to Darfur meeting, urges Sudan not to hinder AU mission
Photo: NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer (Sudan Tribune)
Making an early exit from a Euro-Asian security meeting in Sweden, he said it was important for the mission's success that Sudan does not hinder the African Union.
"What is important," he told reporters, "is that the government of Sudan will give the green light to the African Union" to more than double its current peacekeeping operation to about 7,000 troops.
He said NATO will offer airplanes to transport African peacekeeping troops, but military planners were still working out the details.
"We will do that in close consultation and harmony with the United Nations and, more specifically, the European Union," he said.
On Thursday, De Hoop Scheffer will attend an international conference in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa to discuss the Darfur crisis further with EU foreign and security policy chief Javier Solana, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and AU officials.
On Tuesday, the NATO allies said they stood ready to provide non-combat aid for the AU's beleaguered peacekeeping force in Darfur, approving "initial military options" for logistical NATO support. The EU has similarly agreed to offer assistance in the form of military transport, training and planning.
Last week, AU Commission President Alpha Oumar Konare asked both the EU and NATO for help.
De Hoop Scheffer stressed the AU -- not NATO -- would be running the Darfur operation.
The EU has already sent military advisers to help the AU mission and is spending US $116 million to cover almost half the costs of the operation.
United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan (L) talks to African Union (AU) Commission chairperson Alpha Oumar Konar (R) as he arrived at Addis Ababa airport in Ethiopia May 25, 2005 as both will co-chair the AU meeting on Thursday. The AU is seeking $460 million to more than triple its peacekeeping force in Darfur, a senior AU official said on Wednesday. (Reuters/Andrew Heavens)
Photo: A displaced Sudanese girl sits inside a temporary shelter at Sreef camp near Nyala in south Darfur, October 8, 2004. (AFP).
Photo: Sudanese women arrive with empty containers to collect water at Abu Shouk camp, home of some 100,000 refugees in Darfur May 25, 2005. (Reuters/Beatrice Mategwa)
Today, Human Rights Watch called for officials from the UN, EU, US and AU participating in tomorrow's donor meeting in Addis Ababa to denounce Sudanese government efforts to backtrack on cooperation with relief agencies.
HRW said Khartoum is refusing to grant visas and travel permits to increasing numbers of international journalists and the government's initimidation and stepped-up denial of access for media to Darfur are part of a recurring effort to reduce international criticism of abuses committed by the Sudanese government and its militia allies in Darfur.
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UN agencies help Sudan turn back polio epidemic
Continuing the all-out effort to eradicate polio from Sudan, the country's Ministry of Health, backed by United Nations agencies and other organisations, today launched a three-day campaign to immunize all children under 5.
Full Report via UN May 25, 2005.
Tags: Darfur Sudan Africa African+Union European+Union NATO