Nigerian troops leave for Darfur

Nigerian troops leave for Darfur

ABUJA – Nigerian troops left for Sudan’s Darfur province yesetrday as part of an African Union force mandated for the conflict-torn region, military officials said.

A company of around 150 troops left the Nigerian capital Abuja in two military aircraft and were expected in Sudan later yesterday. The company will join 155 troops sent by Rwanda to protect African Union representatives monitoring a ceasefire in the vast arid region which houses more than a million refugees fleeing Arab Janjaweed militia they say are backed by Sudanese government forces.”Your going to Sudan is purely to assist our brothers and sisters in restoring hope that is fast diminishing,” said Major-general Shekari Biliyok, addressing his troops before they embarked.At least 50 000 people have died in the conflict since the rebellion began 18 months ago, following years of low-intensity fighting between mostly African farmers and Arab nomads over scarce resources.Peace talks in Abuja mediated by the African Union are aimed at finding a political solution to the crisis but have foundered on squabbling over humanitarian and security issues.Nigerian president and African Union chairman Olusegun Obasanjo has won approval from his National Assembly to send up to 2 000 troops to Darfur as part of a wider African Union force.Obasanjo said that additional troops could be used for disarming rebel forces.Sudan has said that it would consider additional troops for disarming rebels but that no foreign troops would be necessary to protect civilians.The United Nations had set a deadline for yesterday for Sudan to address what it calls the world’s worst humanitarian crisis or face sanctions.- Nampa-ReutersThe company will join 155 troops sent by Rwanda to protect African Union representatives monitoring a ceasefire in the vast arid region which houses more than a million refugees fleeing Arab Janjaweed militia they say are backed by Sudanese government forces.”Your going to Sudan is purely to assist our brothers and sisters in restoring hope that is fast diminishing,” said Major-general Shekari Biliyok, addressing his troops before they embarked.At least 50 000 people have died in the conflict since the rebellion began 18 months ago, following years of low-intensity fighting between mostly African farmers and Arab nomads over scarce resources.Peace talks in Abuja mediated by the African Union are aimed at finding a political solution to the crisis but have foundered on squabbling over humanitarian and security issues.Nigerian president and African Union chairman Olusegun Obasanjo has won approval from his National Assembly to send up to 2 000 troops to Darfur as part of a wider African Union force.Obasanjo said that additional troops could be used for disarming rebel forces.Sudan has said that it would consider additional troops for disarming rebels but that no foreign troops would be necessary to protect civilians.The United Nations had set a deadline for yesterday for Sudan to address what it calls the world’s worst humanitarian crisis or face sanctions.- Nampa-Reuters

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