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Congress group wants more US backing of AU efforts in Darfur

6/15/2005 10:39pm

WASHINGTON, June 15 (AFP) -- Washington should be able to contribute considerably more to the African Union's peacekeeping operations in Sudan's troubled Darfur region, according to a congressional work group looking at United Nations reform.
"The AU mission is short on critical assets that would greatly enhance its capabilities, and the US is capable of generating a package of assistance to improve its effectiveness," said the group co-presided by US former lawmakers Newt Gingrich and George Mitchell.

"Such a package would include military liaison personnel; helicopters to ensure increased mobility for troops in the region; and command, control, communication, intelligence and reconnaissance assets to tie the entire force together.

"The AU force will also require additional on-the-ground training to fulfill its mission.

"Properly equipped, trained, and supported, the AU force will be able to fulfill an expanded mandate, including a robust mission statement and rules of engagement that permit the use of lethal force in the protection of civilians," it added.

The group emphasized it was not recommending US troops for combat in Sudan.

In Sudan's western Darfur, a region the size of France, more than two years of civil war has claimed between 180,000 and 300,000 lives, displaced around 2.4 million and sent more than 200,000 fleeing to neighbouring Chad.

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