UNICEF Calls for Additional AU Troops in Darfur

PARIS, France, Apr 11, 2005 (PANA) -- UNICEF's special envoy in the Darfur region, Keith MacKenzie, on Monday urged the African Union's (AU) to increase its presence in the troubled western region of Sudan. "We appreciate the tremendous efforts made by the AU

Tuesday April 12th, 2005 02:31.

"While the AU presence is very helpful, this is a vast area and the AU has neither the resources nor the logistics to fulfil its mission," MacKenzie, who just returned from the region, declared during a press conference in Paris.

"To protect the populations, the 2,500 AU troops presently in the area should be brought to 8,000. This is a minimum to ensure the security of civilians. Otherwise they would not be able to carry out their mission," he added.

MacKenzie explained that the presence of elements of the AU civilian police in the transit camps has been a very stabilising factor but there are over 150 official and spontaneous camps and "it is very hard to attend to them with limited means."

"The major challenge we are facing right now in the Darfur is the protection of civilians. Because, even if people are safe within the camps, they need to go out everyday to fetch firewood or something else. In doing this, they face death, sexual violence or any other form of violence," the UNICEF special envoy indicated.

The AU has over 2,500 soldiers in the embattled area to monitor the negotiated cease-fire between the Sudanese rebel movements and Khartoum.

Some 70,000 people have reportedly been killed since the conflict broke out in February 2003. Over 1.6 million people are displaced and 200,000 more have sought refuge in neighbouring Chad.

 

Posted in: Governance
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