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Britain to send troops to Darfur


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THE British army has been told to expect an order to deploy one or two 1000-man battlegroups to spearhead a European Union peace-keeping force in Darfur, Sudan, inside the next month.

Despite claims of overstretch and the fact that 50,000 UK servicemen and women are spending New Year in Iraq, Northern Ireland, Afghanistan, and elsewhere, soldiers from 3 Commando Brigade and the Parachute Regiment have been earmarked for the new commitment.

Britain has promised 2000 troops to the EU force, which is to consist of 12 national or multinational battlegroups by 2007. The aim is to have two 1500-strong units ready to deploy at 15 days' notice for humanitarian operations.

Contingency plans to send up to a brigade were prepared in August as the refugee crisis in Sudan worsened and attacks by the government-sponsored Arab Janjaweed militia were stepped up.

Tony Blair said during a visit to Ethiopia in October that Africa should be the top priority for the EU Rapid Reaction Force (RRF) when it becomes operational in January.

British and French officers are due to conduct joint command exercises from next Saturday in preparation for the RRF's first deployment. Details of a British expeditionary force for Darfur are expected to be finalised by mid-January.

Western countries have so far resisted calls to intervene in Darfur, where an estimated 70,000 civilians have died in militia raids or from disease and starvation.

Save the Children said last week that it would withdraw from Sudan after four of its staff were killed in the ambush of a relief convoy. Other aid agencies are believed to be about to follow suit. If the non-governmental agencies pull out, more than 250,000 refugees will be left without food or medical assistance.

A small force of African Union troops has failed to prevent the continued fighting between the Khartoum government and local rebels and attacks on displaced civilians by the Janjaweed and other government forces.

Sudan has already said it will resist armed intervention in its affairs. The Muslim-controlled government has a 100,000-man army backed by more than two dozen strike aircraft, helicopter gunships and tanks.

A military source said: "Apart from a potential confrontation with government troops, the biggest problem for a UK force will be logistics and medical back-up.

"The effort required to support and supply one or two battlegroups across hostile terrain will be enormous. It would certainly strain the army's already slender resources and require the protection of fighter aircraft.

"There are no local sources for supplies. Every mouthful of water and spoonful of food for the troops will have to be flown in on top of the aid supplies needed to sustain the refugees." France is also expected to commit troops to the Darfur operation, probably from its Foreign Legion.


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  • <bleeding_heart>


  • Talon


  • morpheas


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Well at least Europes doing something. Couldn't we have done this a little sooner though

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We should have gone after Sudam in Gulf War I when the Middle East was on our side.

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Sudan and rebels 'to agree peace'

A final peace deal between the Sudanese government and southern rebels should be signed next month, officials say.

Talks between the government and the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) are set to continue into the new year to resolve outstanding differences.

But a government spokesman said a signing ceremony would be held in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, on 10 January.

However, others in the Kenyan town of Naivasha, where the talks are being held, said no date had yet been set.

Gutbi el-Mahdi, political adviser to President Omar al-Bashir, told the official Sudan Media Centre that the signing ceremony would be celebrated publicly both in the north and the south of Sudan.

It is hoped that an end to Africa's longest-running civil war - in which the Muslim north has been pitted against Christians and animists in the south - may also help to resolve the conflict in Sudan's western Darfur region, where separate rebel groups challenge the government.

About two million people have died since the civil war began in 1983, and peace negotiations have been ongoing since 2002.

Story from BBC NEWS:


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