Sudan

Sudan: Green light for NATO support to African Union for Darfur

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NATO announced on 9 June that it would help the African Union (AU) expand its peacekeeping mission in Darfur by airlifting additional AU peacekeepers into the region and assisting in their training.

The Secretary General of NATO, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, announced the decision at a meeting of NATO Ministers of Defence in Brussels, 9-10 June.

NATO will airlift peacekeepers from African contributing countries into Darfur. It will also train AU troops in running a multinational military headquarters and managing intelligence.

Full transparency and complementarity

The co-ordination of the airlift will be done from Europe. A special AU air movement cell at the African Union's Headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, will co-ordinate the movement of incoming troops on the ground in Africa. Both NATO and the EU will provide staff to support the AU cell, but the AU "has the lead" stressed the Secretary General.

No NATO combat troops will be deployed to Darfur.

"The people in Darfur need help and the African Union is providing the help," said Mr. De Hoop Scheffer, "NATO and the EU are doing everything we can to answer the request by the African Union."

The airlift and training will begin as soon as possible.

A bid to end violence

The African Union is planning to boost its peacekeeping force in Darfur to about 7,500 in a bid to quench continuing violence in the region. On 26 April 2005, the African Union requested that NATO consider the possibility of providing logistical support to the operation.

NATO agreed on broad options for support to the African Union on 24 May. On 8 June, following further consultations with African Union, the European Union and the United Nations, NATO's North Atlantic Council agreed on the detailed modalities and extent of Alliance support.

The United Nations estimates that more than 2.6 million people are suffering in the conflict in Darfur and urgently need assistance.