Home | News    Saturday 30 September 2006

US provides $20 mln to African peacekeepers in Darfur

Sept 29, 2006 (WASHINGTON) — US Senate has approved today an emergency aid of 20 million USD to the African Union forces in Sudan troubled region of Darfur.

An African Union soldier patrols outside Kebkabiyah, a government-controlled town in northern Darfur, Sudan September 5, 2006. (Reuters)

Legislation authored by Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid and Senator Barack Obama to provide $20 million in emergency aid to African Union (AU) peacekeeping forces in Sudan passed the Senate Friday as part of a larger Department of Defense (DOD) spending bill that will soon be signed into law by the President.

"With the severity of this situation growing worse, and as the government of Sudan continues to block the deployment of a United Nations peacekeeping force to Darfur, the African Union force remains the front line of security," said Senator Reid.

"Now that the African Union has decided to increase its force and extend its stay in Darfur until the end of the year, this legislation will be a good step towards strengthening the African Union Mission in Sudan."

At the end of August, Senator Obama visited a remote camp in Chad near the Sudanese border to visit Darfur refugees who have been driven from their country by violence. He also met AU commanders in eastern Chad.

"It quickly became clear to me that bolstering the AU mission is critical to short-term efforts to protect innocent civilians and allow humanitarian operations in the region.." Obama said.

Reid and Obama’s amendment provides $20 million in emergency military assistance to the AU peacekeeping force. The AU is the only international force in Darfur working to prevent a further deterioration of a situation where 400,000 people have died and 2.5 million have been driven from their homes.

Sudanese president, Omar al-Bashir has refused to accept into his country a 22,000 person United Nations peacekeeping operation to relieve the African Union contingent, which recently agreed to extend its mandate until the end of the year.

(ST)