Home | News    Wednesday 27 October 2004

Sudan to check every new AU soldier for AIDS

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KHARTOUM, Oct 26 (AFP) — Sudan’s health minister said an AIDS-free policy would be applied to African Union troops tasked with monitoring a ceasefire deal in crisis-hit Darfur who have earned a steamy reputation for assiduous off-duty mingling.

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Rwandan troops

The semi-official Sudanese Media Center quoted Ahmed Bilal Osman Tuesday as saying every member of the AU contingent entering the country should produce a certificate proving he is not infected with the HIV virus.

He said the measure was purely precautionary and aimed at "safeguarding the health of the people of Darfur," in a thinly veiled admission that the government could not control the visitors’ libido.

Those coming without internationally recognized health certificates would have to undergo medical tests on entering Sudan and before proceeding to Darfur, the minister added.

The AU plans to deploy more than 3,000 troops from some five countries in Darfur over the next few weeks as part of an expanded mission aimed at containing a 20-month-old conflict that has left tens of thousands dead.

When a contingent of 150 Rwandan troops arrived in Darfur in August, Tayeb Mustafa of the ruling National Congress party attacked the government for allowing them to come in without health certificates.

The press, pointing to the ease with which local women moved in and out of tents housing the AU observers and troops in El-Fasher, the capital of North Darfur state, had also called for tougher action.

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