More peacekeepers arrive in Darfur

The UN News Centre reports 85 Pakistani troops have arrived in Darfur during the past two days to bolster the strength of the joint United Nations-African Union peacekeeping force, known as UNAMID, deployed earlier this year to try to end the violence and suffering in the war-ravaged Sudanese region.
Another 176 members of a Pakistani engineering company are due later this week, bringing the total number of the company`s members dispatched in Darfur to 335, UN spokesperson Michele Montas told reporters.
They will work primarily to finish UNAMID`s “super camp” in El Geneina, West Darfur, expand other camps in Darfur, and build infrastructure and facilities for the peacekeepers, she stated.
Two groups of the Ethiopian Logistics Unit also arrived in Darfur over the weekend to help military components with supply, transport, maintenance and force protection. Ethiopia has one Infantry Battalion in Darfur and is expected to deploy another in coming months.
The 300 Ethiopians` principal duties will include conducting security patrols, enhancing security and fostering confidence within the local population, as well as conducting escorts for humanitarian convoys.
Last year, the Security Council authorized the peacekeeping force of about 26 000 uniformed personnel. But only some 10 000 have been deployed, and senior UN officials have repeatedly called on countries to supply the remaining troops and equipment needed.
“Our deployment in Darfur has been slower than I wished despite our best efforts,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told reporters at his year-end press conference at the weekend.
“The joint UN-African Union force will be 60% deployed by year’s end, and 85% by March of next year. Yet we still lack mission-critical assets, including helicopters,” he added.
An estimated 300 000 people have been killed and another 2.7 million have been displaced from their homes in Darfur since rebels began fighting Government forces and allied militiamen, known as the Janjaweed, in 2003.