Home | News    Thursday 9 December 2004

HRW group urges Africa Union to speed up Darfur deployment

NEW YORK, Dec 8 (AFP) — The Africa Union must quickly deploy troops to Sudan’s troubled Darfur region and protect its population, an international human rights group said Wednesday in a letter to Nigeria’s president.

Nigerian troops head to a U.S. C-130 for transport into the Darfur region of Sudan in Abuga, Nigeria, Thursday, Oct. 28, 2004.

"A rapid deployment of these 3,500 personnel is urgently required so that the African Union can deploy into the remote but troubled rural areas of Darfur," New York-based Human Rights Watch said in a letter to Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo.

"We also urge the African Union to ask the (UN) Security Council for a clear mandate to protect civilians in Darfur," the group told Obasanjo, who chairs the Africa Union.

"This mandate and protection are needed now, more than ever, as the fighting and civilian deaths continue to climb."

"The Africa Union still has only 900 troops and monitors on the ground in Darfur, and these forces lack the mandate to protect the hundreds of thousands of civilians who remain at risk of attack," Peter Takirambudde, Africa director at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement.

The crisis in Darfur flared in February 2003 when rebels rose up against what they allege is the political and economic marginalisation of black Africans by the Arab-led government.

Since then, more than 70,000 people have been killed or have died from hunger and disease in the area and another 1.5 million have been displaced, according to the United Nations.