Head of AU Mission in Darfur needs immediate extra funds and 5,600 more troops - AU said donors would only fund 4,000 troops
The African Union force charged with observing a ceasefire in the wake of a very fragile Darfur peace deal must be given immediate extra funds and 4,000 more troops, the AU mission head in western Sudan said.Note, June 1 2006 What's going on? AU Mission in Darfur costs $1 billion a year - SA troops in Darfur still waiting to be paid: EU said there was no delay in funding- - -
"This agreement has been a very fragile one extracted under very severe conditions -- it was like extracting something from a lion's jaw," Collins Ihekire, the military head of the 7,000-strong AU mission in Darfur, told Reuters on Sunday.
"We must be empowered now to make sure that we can minimise any problems," he said, adding if the deteriorating security situation worsened it would be difficult to get the parties back to negotiations.
Ihekire said he had wanted an extra eight battalions, or around 5,600 troops. But the AU said donors would only fund another five battalions -- 4,000 troops.
Donors will meet on June 20 in Brussels to pledge more funds for the cash-strapped mission, which the United Nations hopes to take over if it can win agreement from Sudan.
"What is preventing us is ... lack of ability on the ground," Ihekire said.
"It is due to a paucity of resources," he said, adding he did not have enough troops to secure the region the size of France.
He said the fact that only one rebel faction had signed the deal would be an obstacle to implementation. Efforts are still ongoing to get the other two factions to sign.
May 30 2006 VOA Misinformation about Darfur Peace Agreement has led to violent reprisals against AU peacekeepers - AU media campaign urges Darfuris to support peace