Home | News    Friday 5 November 2004

South Africa likely to send 200 more troops to Sudan’s Darfur

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PRETORIA, Nov 5, 2004 (AP) — South African defense officials said Friday they expected to grant an African Union request to send about 200 more troops to join the peace mission in the western Sudanese region of Darfur.

The military said in a statement that it had been asked to provide an infantry company, an explosives and ordnance demolition team, military observers and staff officers.

It said the contingent would assist in monitoring and observing compliance with the April 8 cease-fire agreement between the Sudanese government and Darfur rebel groups.

It said the force also would contribute to a secure environment for the delivery of relief materials and for the return of refugees.

Department spokesman Sam Mkhwanazi told the South African Press Association that the contingent, once approved, was expected to comprise more than 200 South African soldiers and be deployed early next year.

South Africa deployed eight high-ranking soldiers as peacekeepers to the region in July.

The AU was reportedly in the process of increasing the size of its mission in Darfur sevenfold, to more than 3,000 personnel.

Tens of thousands of people are estimated to have been killed in a 20-month conflict in Darfur, which was recently labeled as genocide by U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell.

Close to 2 million have had to flee their homes, and about 400,000 were in need of humanitarian assistance.

Violence broke out last January when two black African rebel groups took up arms over what they claimed was unjust treatment by the government of Sudan and ethnic Arabs.

Pro-government militias, called Janjaweed, then began retaliatory attacks on villages.

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