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Sudan Tribune

Plural news and views on Sudan

Chinese peacekeepers arrive in Darfur

November 24, 2007 (KHARTOUM) — More than 100 Chinese engineers have arrived in Sudan’s war-torn Darfur as part of the vanguard for a joint African Union-UN peacekeeping mission to be in place next year, a UN spokesman said Saturday.

“The 135 engineers arrived at 10:30 am (0730 GMT) in Nyala airport, wearing blue berets and scarfs,” UN spokesman Ali Hamati told AFP by telephone, referring to the capital of South Darfur state.

“These are the advanced team of the 315 Chinese engineers who will come during December under the heavy support package to pave the way for the deployment of UNAMID,” said Hamati.

The 26,000-strong AU-UN force is due to begin peacekeeping operations in Darfur early next year, tasked with ending nearly five years of bloodshed.

The force of mainly Africans will replace an under-funded and ill-equipped 7,000 African Union force that has served since 2004.

The Chinese engineers are to build roads and bridges, and dig wells, and have also brought a medical team, said Hamati.

Since February 2003, more than 200,000 people have died from the combined effects of war, famine and disease in western Sudan’s Darfur region, while 2.2 million others have been left homeless.

China, which is the biggest buyer of Sudan’s oil, has been accused of shielding Khartoum — accused of fanning the violence in Darfur — from international sanctions.

The Sudanese government, while objecting to troops from Nepal, Scandinavia and Thailand, has welcomed the Chinese mission to Darfur.

(AFP)