Sudan: Financial constraints threaten AU deployment to Darfur

Addis Ababa (dpa) - The African Union (AU) disclosed Friday that financial constraints were affecting plans to increase to over 7,000 the number of soldiers serving in Darfur with the African Mission in Sudan (AMIS).

The A.U.'s annual 460 million U.S. dollar budget had a current shortfall of 200 million dollars, the group said, adding however that plans were on course for the deployment of the extra soldiers to Darfur by September.

The A.U. Commissioner for Peace and Security, Said Djinnit, announced that a Nigerian battalion of 680 troops, being airlifted to Darfur since July 1, would be in place by July 14 and would provide backup to the 3,320 troops and police already in the trouble-torn western Sudanese region.

He said two battalions from Rwanda would be airlifted from Kigali to Darfur between July 15 to September 1.

Contingents of one battalion each from Senegal and South Africa and police from Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria, Cameroon, Niger and Mali are to be flown to Darfur before the end of September, raising the enhanced force strength by the end of the month to a total of 7,171.

Djinnit stated that there was concern at present over the 200 million dollar budgetary gap. The sum was equal to a years upkeep for troops in Darfur, he explained.

The A.U. planned to plug the funding gap with finance from the A.U. Peace Fund, to which the European Union contributed 250 million euros in 2004, and with pledges from donor countries, he said. dpa gh sr


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