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South Africa, Egypt must emulate Ethiopia on helicopters to hybrid force

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The Darfur Consortium

Press Release

Contact:
Dismas Nkunda: +256 782 310404

South Africa, Egypt must emulate Ethiopia on helicopters to hybrid force

(KAMPALA, February 8) The Darfur Consortium has welcomed the decision by the Ethiopian government to offer helicopters to the hybrid African Union-United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID), but urged other African countries such as Egypt and South Africa to also make contributions.

It emerged this week that Ethiopia and Bangladesh were the first two countries to commit helicopters that are urgently needed by the troops in Darfur.

“We welcome the gesture from Ethiopia and very much hope that other African countries like South Africa and Egypt will show the same commitment,” said Dismas Nkunda, spokesperson for the Darfur Consortium, a grouping of over 50 African and international civil society organizations working to bring a just end to the conflict in Darfur.

“In the vast expanse and poor roads of Darfur, helicopters are absolutely critical to the mobility of the hybrid force, which in turn is essential in ensuring that the force is able to respond quickly to emerging problems. There are two other African countries, Egypt and South Africa, which have the capacity to offer similar helicopters and ease the work of the force,” he added.

United States ambassador to the United Nations, Zalmay Khalilzad, said this week that Ethiopia promised to loan three attack and two transport helicopters.

More helicopters are, however, urgently needed. According to the assessment which the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon submitted to the Security Council last year at least 24 helicopters – three tactical helicopter units and one light tactical helicopter unit – will be needed for the force, which is expected to include 26,000 troops when fully deployed, to effectively operate.

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