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Sudan agrees to Canadian APCs deployment for AU in Darfur

11/14/2005 6:23pm

Sudan has given the green light for the deployment of armored personnel carriers (APCs) in its war-torn Darfur region to enhance the African Union's peacekeeping capabilities, the AU said.

"The Sudanese government has now issued the diplomatic clearance to allow for the delivery of all 105 APCs donated by the government of Canada," spokesman Noureddine Mezni told AFP.

Khartoum had come under intense international pressure to allow in the APCs following recent attacks against AU troops that left four soldiers dead and dozens abducted.

Menzi said delivery of the vehicles will begin over the next few days, adding that the Canadian-donated APCs will be flown in from Dakar, Senegal, and assigned to AU troops in various areas of Darfur.

"The carriers, whose delivery will take about a month, will be deployed in Darfur's eight sectors comprising the areas of responsibility of AMIS in the region," he said.

US Assistant Secretary of State Robert Zoellick stressed the need for Sudan to comply during a meeting in Khartoum last week with Sudanese leaders, including President Omar al-Beshir.

"I've pressed to try to get the armored personnel carriers in because that will give those forces substantially more protection, also give them more mobility," Zoellick told reporters on Thursday.

Mezni said that the APCs will be "efficiently used for the protection of AU troops as well as civilians in addition to escorting humanitarian convoys."

The vehicles, will also improve the ability of the AU to respond to truce violations and contribute to the improvement of security conditions in the region, according to Mezni.

The AU currently has a force of around 6,800 troops monitoring a ceasefire between government forces and ethnic minority rebels fighting for greater political and economic autonomy from Khartoum

The 32-month conflict has left an estimated 300,000 people dead and forced more than two million from their homes.

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