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German parliament approves deployment in southern Sudan

4/24/2005 7:46am

BERLIN, April 22 (AFP) -- The German parliament gave the green light to send 75 soldiers to Sudan as part of a UN mission to secure a January peace accord with southern rebels.

The deployment, initially set for six months, would be limited to southern and eastern Sudan based on a UN Security Council resolution passed in late March and approved by Khartoum this month.

The troops, mainly military observers, will join a group of 750 UN observers who form part of the contingent of 10,000 UN peacekeepers.

While the Germans will not offer any direct help to the strife-torn region of Darfur in the west of the country, they will be able to liaise with African Union troops deployed there.

Defense Minister Peter Struck welcomed the decision but urged the international community to do more in Darfur, which is plagued by ongoing violence and attacks by government-backed militia on villages.

"We must not look away when people in this already disadvantaged and abused continent are oppressed and persecuted," he said.

The Sudanese government and the former Sudan People's Liberation Movement signed a peace agreement on January 9 that put an end to a 21-year-old civil war that left 1.5 million dead.

About 300,000 people are estimated to have died and more than two million forced out of their homes during more than two years of conflict between Khartoum and rebels in Darfur.

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