Home | News    Thursday 3 March 2005

South Africa troops for AU arrive in Darfur

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EL-FASHER, Sudan, March 3 (Reuters) - Ninety-seven South African troops arrived in Darfur on Thursday as part of an African Union mission to monitor a shaky truce between government forces and rebels, an AU officer said on Thursday.

Nigerian troops upon their arrival at Al-Fasher airport October 30, 2004.

"All in all 196 (South Africans) will arrive over the next week," Brigadier-General John Kazura told Reuters in El-Fasher.

The troops’ mission is to protect AU ceasefire observers. South Africa has 39 monitors in Darfur, which lies in Sudan’s west.

International aid agency Oxfam said this week only half of the 3,320 personnel promised by the AU in October have arrived in Darfur and their efforts had been hindered by shortages of funding and a lack of logistical support.

Rebels in Darfur took up arms two years ago, accusing the government of neglecting the arid region and favouring Arab over non-Arab tribes. The conflict has driven around two million from their homes.

Rebels say Arab militias the government armed to help put down their uprising have conducted a campaign of village-burning and rape in the region. The government denies links with the militia, known as Janjaweed.

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