Benn: UK to provide 20 million pounds for African Union mission in Sudan
Hilary Benn, International Development Secretary, today announced an additional 20 million pounds of UK support for the African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS) during a visit to El Fasher, Darfur.
Mr Benn discussed the current security situation and plans to hand over peacekeeping in Darfur to a UN 'blue-hatted' force with Major-General Ihekire (the AMIS force commander) and said:
"I have seen firsthand today how AMIS soldiers and police on the ground are making every effort in difficult circumstances to protect the lives of the people living in the Darfur camps. But talking to women who were forced to flee their homes, it is clear that they don't feel it is safe to go back.
"Funding for AMIS is running low, and the international community must do more to ensure the African Union can operate effectively, as preparations are made for a handover to the UN. Improving security must be the priority. This means predictable, sustainable support for AMIS and I am confirming that the UK will provide a further 20m pounds for this. The UK stands ready to provide equipment, fund essential expenses, for example fuel costs, and provide experts to strengthen AMIS headquarters and operations.
"I urge other donors, who along with the UK will be attending a pledging conference in early March, to join us in committing significant additional resources to ensure that AMIS gets the support it needs."
Notes to editors
1. The UK has already committed 19m pounds funding this financial year to the African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS). This money is providing equipment, including over 900 vehicles, military and civilian policing advice, expertise and training, airlift of troops into Darfur, and further troop rotation. Today's announcement brings our total contribution to AMIS since its inception to almost 52m pounds.
2. The UK will work with AMIS to ensure the additional funding announced today is put to best use. While exact requirements are still unclear, we expect funding to provide support for core running costs and any additional experts required. As part of this support we will pay for AMIS' fuel requirements for their ground vehicles.
3. The AU has decided in principle that it will ask to hand over responsibility for peacekeeping to the UN. The AU's Peace and Security Council will meet on 3 March and is expected to agree formally the handover to the UN.
4. A pledging conference will take place in Brussels on 8 March. If a formal decision about handover has been made, the pledging conference will aim to remove uncertainty about AMIS funding until the transition to UN. Cash reserves are currently running critically low.