17 July 2008 A company of 172 Chinese engineers arrived today in Nyala in South Darfur to join the joint United Nations-African Union peacekeeping mission (UNAMID) in Sudan’s troubled western region.
The Chinese contingent will work primarily on the completion of a camp in Nyala and will expand other UNAMID camps in Darfur, providing the infrastructure and facilities that will allow more peacekeepers to deploy. They bring the total number of Chinese engineers in Darfur to 315 and the total number of UNAMID forces to 8,000.
UNAMID’s Joint Special Representative Rodolphe Adada said that deployment was the priority for the mission. “We are accelerating our deployment. We are building the strength of the mission so we can protect more personnel and more Darfurians and continue to implement our mandate,” he said.
UNAMID Force Commander General Martin Luther Agwai had previously emphasised the lack of engineering capacity as one of the principal constraints delaying deployment of more peacekeepers to the currently under-manned mission.
“Every commander wants the resources to fulfill his assignment,” he said. “For me it's a very special day because what we need most is the engineering capacity to build and expand our camps to allow us to increase the numbers of our deployed forces.”
The Chinese company of engineers includes bridge and road-building detachments, construction and installation units, maintenance and support teams, and well-drilling specialists. Apart from their work on the camp in Nyala and other UNAMID bases, the engineers will also assist local communities in Darfur with Quick Impact Projects, such as well-drilling.
The UN is aiming to deploy 80 per cent of a total contingent of 26,000 troops and police officers by the end of the year.
UNAMID also reports that in the past 24 hours, peacekeepers conducted 21 security and confidence-building patrols in the region and humanitarian activities are ongoing as well.
In addition, the mission says the investigation is still ongoing into yesterday’s shooting death of a UNAMID peacekeeper. The killing comes just one week after seven blue helmets with the mission were slain in an attack in North Darfur.
Meanwhile, from Khartoum, the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) reports that the withdrawal of the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) and Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) forces from Abyei continues, with UNMIS monitoring.
This is in line with the joint plan unveiled by the Sudanese Government of National Unity’s main parties to resolve their dispute over the situation in the oil-rich area around Abyei, which lies close to the boundary between the north and south of the country.
Both parties agreed at yesterday’s Area Joint Military Committee to complete withdrawal by 30 July.
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