Home | News    Thursday 3 January 2008

Egypt sends 1,200 peacekeepers to Sudan’s Darfur


January 2, 2008 (CAIRO) — President Hosni Mubarak inspected hundreds of Egyptian troops Wednesday ahead of their deployment in the war-torn Darfur region of neighboring Sudan to join a U.N.-African peacekeeping force.

President Mubarak inspects Egyptian peacekeepers participating in the UN mission to southern Sudan. June 21, 2005.

Mubarak, accompanied by Libyan leader Muammar Gadhafi, urged the 1,200 Egyptian soldiers to remain impartial as they operate in Darfur, where more than 200,000 people have been killed in over four years of fighting between ethnic African rebels and the Arab-dominated Sudanese government. Egyptian spokesman Suleiman Awwad said the troops would head to Sudan in the coming days.

"We will be dealing with the sons of Darfur and Sudan equally, as our brothers, without discrimination or prejudice," Mubarak said.

Monday, a new hybrid force of U.N. and African Union peacekeepers took over in Darfur in a long-awaited change intended to be the strongest effort yet to solve the world’s worst ongoing humanitarian crisis.

Sudan had resisted a U.N. intervention for months before agreeing to a compromise deal for a 26,000-strong mission to deploy, providing it is predominantly African.

Egypt, along with Ethiopia, is among the first countries to send a strong contingent to the new force, which is still far from reaching full capacity. Sudan has voiced suspicions that western nations are hostile to the government and that the U.N. mission is biased.

"Egypt seeks peace and we don’t have a hidden agenda," Mubarak said. "We are only concerned about Sudan’s interest and people," he said.

More than 2.5 million civilians have fled to refugee camps since fighting broke out in Darfur, and the Sudanese government’s counterinsurgency is blamed for widespread atrocities. Several previous peace deals have failed, and refugees along with aid workers continue to face daily insecurity.


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