Full UNAMID Darfur deployment by June: UN official
The United Nations and African Union mission in Darfur aims to deploy 80 percent of its joint peacekeeping force there by March this year.
The United Nations and African Union mission in Darfur (UNAMID) aims to deploy 80 percent of its joint peacekeeping force there by March this year and the rest by June, a senior U.N. official said on Monday.
UNAMID took over from a smaller AU mission last year but is well short of its promised strength of 26,000 troops. Susana Malcorra, the U.N.'s head of department of field support, said it was vital troop-contributing nations prepare their forces.
"We have now achieved over 60 percent deployment," she told a meeting of U.N., AU and Sudanese officials in Addis Ababa. "It is critical that troop-contributing countries undertake the range of pre-deployment preparations as rapidly as possible."
International experts estimate 200,000 people have died in Darfur since conflict broke out in 2003, and that 2.5 million have been uprooted. Khartoum puts the toll at 10,000 deaths.
Mutref Sediq, state minister in Sudan's foreign ministry, said his government remained committed to facilitating the full deployment of UNAMID.
On Sunday, peacekeepers said Darfur fighters who signed a peace deal with the Khartoum administration were poised to attack a strategic town, risking the lives of 30,000 civilians.
Reuters Last Mod: 19 Ocak 2009, 14:15