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Norway to send 30 mobile police stations to Sudan's Darfur

5/12/2005 10:41am

OSLO, Norway, May 11, 2005 (AP) -- Norway will send 30 fully equipped mobile police stations to Sudan's troubled Darfur province for use by international law enforcement officers, the Foreign Ministry announced Wednesday.

The units, to be shipped by the end of the month, will be used at 30 refugee camps for internally displaced people in Darfur. A news release said the donation was in response to a request from the African Union, which has police and peacekeeping troops in the region.

At least 180,000 people have died and about 1.8 million people have fled their homes in Sudan's western Darfur region since fighting erupted there in February 2003.

"The situation for the civilian population of Darfur remains unacceptable," said Vidar Helgesen, a deputy Norwegian foreign minister.

Helgesen said efforts by the African Union forces appear to be helping reduce violence in the areas where they are deployed, but there was an especially strong need for civilian police to boost security in and around refugee camps.

This month, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said in a report that the African Union needs to increase the level of troops and police from the current 2,000 to 7,447 by the end of August to improve security.

Norway helped mediate a peace accord that was signed in January to end a 21-year civil war in southern Sudan, but violence continues unabated in the separate Darfur conflict.

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