Home | News    Saturday 25 December 2004

AU salutes Gambia for boosting Darfur force

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ADDIS ABABA, Dec 24 (AFP) — The African Union (AU) on Friday saluted Gambia for boosting the strength of a ceasefire monitoring force in Sudan’s western Darfur region, by deploying 196 soldiers.

Gambian president Yahya Jammeh.

Early this week, the tiny western African nation sent its final 90 men to Darfur using German airforce planes, adding to a total of 790 personnel already in the region on an African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS), an AU statement said.

The AU, which is struggling to boost its personnel on the ground to 3,320 officers, said it was "pleased" with Gambia, the statement added.

Despite the presence of an AU team tasked with overseeing the implementation of a shaky truce signed between Darfur rebels and the Khartoum government in April, clashes have continued, with the latest occuring on December 17 in South Darfur’s Labado town, where an aid worker was killed when Sudan’s government troops launched an attack.

Darfur, a resource-rich region the size of France, has been embroiled in conflict since February 2003, when two rebel movements launched a revolt against Khartoum, charging that the Arab-led government had marginalised and persecuted the region’s black African tribes.

This prompted an heavy-handed crackdown by pro-government militias, attacking villagers, murdering and raping civilians and driving more than 1.6 million from their homes, according to the United Nations.

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