Home | News    Saturday 23 December 2006

UK provides extra 15 mln pounds to AU Darfur force

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Dec 22, 2006 (LONDON) — The United Kingdom said Friday that it was providing an additional GBP15 million to African Union peacekeepers in Darfur.

International Development Secretary Hilary Benn said the new funds will help fund the African Union Mission in Sudan’s operations in the first six months of 2007. The funding is besides the 20 million pounds (A29.8 million, US$39.3 million) the British government provide for this year’s operations.

"There is an urgent need for the international community to provide sufficient funds to support the force. The U.K. is fully committed to playing its part in meeting that need," Benn said in a statement.

He said that the humanitarian situation in the Darfur would be even worse if the 7,000-member AU force weren’t there and urged other donors, particularly the Arab League to commit further funds to the force.

Fighting in Darfur began in February 2003 when rebels from black African tribes took up arms, complaining of discrimination and oppression by Sudan’s Arab-dominated government. The government is accused of unleashing Arab tribal militia known as the janjaweed against civilians in a campaign of murder, rape and arson — a charge the government denies.

More than 200,000 people have been killed and 2.5 million displaced by three years of fighting.

The AU Peace and Security Council agreed on Nov. 30 to extend its Darfur mission until mid-2007 — on the condition that it receives sufficient funding to support the operation.

Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir remains fiercely opposed to a U.N. Security Council resolution adopted in August that called for more than 20,000 U.N. peacekeepers to replace the overwhelmed AU force in Darfur, and has opposed deployment of U.N. troops in a hybrid force. He claims a U.N. force would compromise Sudan’s sovereignty and try to re-colonize the country.

(AP)

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