Egyptian troops arrive in Darfur

The hybrid United Nations-African Union (AU) peacekeeping force in Darfur, known as UNAMID, has received a boost from the arrival of 100 personnel from the 2nd Egyptian Infantry Battalion.
The UN News Centre another 100 troops from the battalion are slated to arrive today in the strife-torn western flank of Sudan as a meeting of the Tripartite Committee – comprising the Government of Sudan, the AU and the UN – is scheduled to take place for the first time in Darfur.
Under-Secretary-General for Field Support Susana Malcorra is expected to attend the meeting in El Fasher, the capital of North Darfur, which will examine ways to facilitate and expedite deployment of the AU-UN peacekeeping operation in the region.
The hybrid force was set up by the Security Council to protect civilians in Darfur, where an estimated 300 000 people have been killed and another 2.7 million have been forced from their homes since fighting erupted in 2003, pitting rebels against Government forces and allied Janjaweed militiamen.
More than one year on from transferring the task of suppressing the violence to UNAMID from the AU Mission in Sudan (AMIS), well over 12 000 of the 19 555 military personnel authorized by the Security Council are now in place across Darfur.
In related news, UNAMID reported that an investigation team was dispatched to a fire that broke out Sunday night at the Al Riyad camp for internally displaced persons (IDPs), near El Geneina in West Darfur.
As well as leaving a large number of people homeless, the blaze caused heavy damage to about 35 shelters and the loss of many animals.
This follows last week`s arson attack in the West Darfur Abu Zar camp for IDPs in which two people were killed and three were rushed to hospital in El Geneina with serious injuries.
Meanwhile, the hybrid peacekeeping force characterised the security situation in Darfur for the past 72 hours as relatively calm apart from a few incidents of banditry and carjacking in both North and West Darfur. In the past few weeks, UNAMID has reported a rise in attacks on peacekeeping staff and harassment of civilians in the region.
There has also been concern recently over the safety of humanitarian workers, many of whom have been ordered to leave the region following the indictment earlier this month of Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Darfur.
Meanwhile, Reuters reports US President Barack Obama says Sudan faces an immediate crisis over the government’s decision to expel some aid groups from Darfur.
Obama spoke during a picture-taking session at the White House with envoy Scott Gration, a retired Air Force general who departs for Khartoum, southern Sudan and Darfur today.
“We have to figure out a mechanism to get those NGOs back in place, to reverse that decision, or to find some mechanism whereby we avert an enormous humanitarian crisis,” Obama said.
The US will also seek a way to restart talks between rebels and the Khartoum government that could help resolve the Darfur situation.
“This is going to be a very difficult task. It will be a time-consuming task. We don’t expect any solutions overnight to the long-standing problems there,” Obama said.
Gration will also try to reinvigorate the North-South Agreement, which ended two decades of civil war between north and south Sudan in 2005.