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African Union urges more help for Darfur

6/4/2005 8:19am

ADDIS ABABA, 2 Jun 2005 (IRIN) - The African Union (AU) on Thursday urged wealthy nations to donate more for the war-torn western Sudanese region of Darfur, saying they had not pledged enough to help end the suffering there.

AU Peace and Security Commissioner Said Djinnit said that he was "not satisfied" with the US $300 million additional cash pledged by donors recently to end one of the world’s worst humanitarian disasters.

"We need more cash," Djinnit said as he flew into Sudan’s western region to begin a two-day visit ahead of the resumption of peace talks in Abuja, Nigeria.

The AU had appealed for $466 million to boost its peacekeeping force from 2,270 members to 7,700 members by the end of September. It needs a total of $723 million to expand the force to 12,300 by next year.

"My problem is that there was a lot of enthusiasm, but it was focused on the same kind of support so there was a lot of overlapping," Djinnit added.

War-induced hunger and disease in the region has killed more than 180,000 people, according to UN estimates. About two million others have fled their homes.

The peacekeeping operation is a critical test of international commitment and Africa's resolve to end conflicts on the world's poorest continent.

"The donors have been forthcoming in terms of logistical support but in terms of meeting the budget we have just not seen it," Djinnit said. "All the announcements are more or less related to logistical requirements, which are needed, of course, but I was expecting to have more cash.

"If we get what we need, then the AU can do the job in Darfur," he added.

Djinnit is expected to meet with AU and government officials, aid groups and the two main rebel groups in Darfur. The rebel groups were preparing to resume peace talks in Abuja, Nigeria, next week to discuss a peace settlement in the conflict-ridden region.

"This visit will allow the AU to say loud and clear exactly what the humanitarian and security situation is on the ground in Darfur," he added.

The conflict broke out in February 2003 after rebels took up arms, complaining of discrimination by the Sudanese government. The government is accused of backing a scorched-earth counterinsurgency by Arab militias, known as the Janjaweed, in response.


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