Home | News    Friday 30 July 2004

Darfur getting worse, more soldiers needed - AU

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ACCRA, July 30 (Reuters) - Sudan must act now to protect its citizens in Darfur, the African Union (AU) said Friday, after a fact-finding mission found the crisis situation in the region had deteriorated in the past few weeks.

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AU Chairman

Speaking to reporters in Ghana, Nigeria’s President and AU Chairman Olusegun Obasanjo said the 53-nation group of African states would need to increase the number of troops earmarked for Darfur duty at a summit earlier this month in Ethiopia.

Arab militia, known as Janjaweed, are accused of killing thousands of Africans, raping women and destroying villages, in acts that have been branded genocide by U.S. Congress.

"What we found is that there has been some formal deterioration from where things were when we met in Addis Ababa. So we are calling on the government of Sudan to play its role protecting all the people of Sudan," he said.

Obasanjo said African leaders had decided at the Addis summit to provide a protection force in Darfur, and agreed to ask for additional troops if the size of the initial force proved insufficient.

"With what we have on the ground now, it appears we must have additional forces of protection," he said in Ghana’s capital Accra, where he is attending Ivory Coast peace talks.

The United Nations estimates that some 30,000 people have been killed and more than a million have fled their homes in the conflict, which it says is the world’s worst humanitarian disaster.

The African Union has 96 military observers monitoring an April cease-fire between the Sudanese government and rebel groups in Darfur. It also plans to send 270 troops, mainly from Nigeria, South Africa and Rwanda.

The AU said earlier this week that it may reinforce its mission to create a peacekeeping force to disarm militias and protect civilians.

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