Home | News    Thursday 30 June 2005

Nigeria to deploy 2,000 more troops to Sudan’s Darfur

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LAGOS, June 30 (AFP) — Nigeria has approved the deployment of more than 2,000 troops in three battalions for peacekeeping and peace enforcement duties in Sudan’s war-torn region of Darfur, a defense spokesman said June 30.

A Nigerian officer holds passports for his troops preparing to board a U.S. military plane in the Nigerian capital Abuja, October 28, 2004 before flying to Darfur.

"The first battalion — some 700 soldiers — will leave for Darfur tomorrow. They are to be airlifted from Kaduna," Brigadier General Ganiyi Adewale told Agence France-Presse.

He said Nigeria’s defense chief General Alex Ogomudia would address the soldiers on the need to be "good ambassadors" of their country before leaving for the war-wracked region.

"This is ... in line with the request of the United Nations and African Union from countries to send more troops to the region," he said.

He said west African regional powerhouse Nigeria already had three companies of troops in Darfur as part of the AU peacekeeping force.

The AU now has 3,320 troops in Dafur, including 450 observers and 815 police officers. The number is set to double by the end of September, and ultimately reach 12,000 soldiers.

The conflict in Darfur between the Sudanese government and two main rebel groups has claimed between 180,000 and 300,000 lives, with some 2.4 million civilians displaced from their homes, while an additional 200,000 have fled into neighboring Chad.

A ceasefire, concluded in April last year, has never been respected.

AU-mediated talks to end the 28-month-old civil war began in the Nigerian capital in August last year but negotiations between the parties have suffered because of mutal accusations of truce violations.

The latest round of talks which resumed on June 10 after a six-month break has made little progress.

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