17 December 2008 More than 300 Ethiopian troops arrived in Darfur over the last two days to boost the strength of the joint United Nations-African Union force, known as UNAMID, deployed earlier this year in an attempt to suppress the violence and humanitarian suffering in the war-torn Sudanese region.
More personnel from the Ethiopian Infantry Battalion are expected to land in El Geneina, West Darfur by the end of the week.
Their principal duties will include conducting security patrols, enhancing security and fostering confidence within the local population, as well as conducting escorts for humanitarian convoys.
The Security Council authorized a UNAMID force of about 26,000 uniformed personnel, including just below 20,000 troops last year. It currently only has around 10,000 personnel, and senior UN officials have repeatedly called on countries to supply the remaining troops and equipment that are needed.
“Our deployment in Darfur has been slower than I wished despite our best efforts,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told reporters at his year-end press conference today.
“The joint UN-African Union force will be 60 per cent deployed by year's end, and 85 percent by March of next year. Yet we still lack mission-critical assets, including helicopters,” he added.
An estimated 300,000 people have been killed and 2.7 million others displaced from their homes in Darfur since rebels began fighting Government forces and allied militiamen, known as the Janjaweed, in 2003.
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