News and Information

More African troops go to Darfur
December 16, 2000
Germany has despatched three military transport aircraft to Africa to help deploy more African Union troops to Darfur in western Sudan.

The Germans are taking 200 Gambian soldiers to the area, bringing the overall force to more than 1,000.

Two months ago the African Union voted to send a 3,000-strong force there, but they have a limited role. Amnesty International says they have so far failed to improve security for civilians or prevent fighting.

Some 70,000 people have been killed and about 1.65 million displaced by the violence between black Africans and pro-government Arab militias in Darfur.

Earlier, the Sudanese government said it would end attacks in Darfur if rebels did, possibly paving the way for the talks in Nigeria's capital, Abuja, to resume.

Rebels left the negotiations, accusing the government of breaking a truce.

It is hoped that an imminent report from AU troops could get the two sides talking again.

Amnesty official Erwin van der Borght said the AU force was ineffective and being deployed slowly and their recommendations had not been acted on.

"Even their reports on ceasefire violations are usually blocked by the parties to the conflict," he said.


On Wednesday, the UN said there were "indications" that a rebel group - the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) - shot dead two aid workers in Darfur on Sunday.

But a spokeswoman in Khartoum said the UN was still awaiting the outcome of an African Union investigation into the deaths of the Save the Children staff.

Q&A: Darfur crisis
The SLA is one of two main rebel groups opposed to the government, along with the Justice and Equality Movement (Jem).

Save the Children suspended work in the area after the attack.

Speaking from their base in London, Save the Children UK said it would not comment on the UN's assertions and was awaiting the outcome of the investigation.

UN operations have been suspended in parts of South Darfur following reported fighting in villages east and south-east of the state capital, Nyala.

Fighting has also been reported recently between rebel and government forces near el Fashir, the capital of North Darfur.

But on Wednesday, mediators attempting to revive Darfur peace talks in Abuja said the Sudanese government had agreed to halt military attacks in the region.

An African Union spokesman, Sam Ibok, told reporters at the negotiations that if the promise was verified it could clear the way for the resumption of talks.

A government spokesman said troops would be withdrawn, but said rebels should also stop their attacks.

The rebel groups, which announced their boycott of peace talks on Monday, said they were also prepared to return to the negotiating table if the government pulled back its troops.

The peace talks are aimed at ending a conflict that has raged since February 2003, when rebels began attacking government targets, claiming that the region was being neglected by Khartoum.


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