Bush announces food aid to Darfur, AU faces fund crisis

Tuesday, May 9, 2006

President George W Bush has announced US emergency food shipments to Darfur, a province of Sudan. He has asked Congress to approve $225m in aid. Sudan and the biggest rebel group signed a peace deal last Friday to end the three year old civil war, claiming more than 200,000 lives.

Condoleezza Rice, US secretary of state will address the UN Security Council to help speed up the deployment of UN peacekeepers to the Darfur region.

"She's going to request a resolution that will accelerate the deployment of UN peacekeepers into Darfur," President Bush said. "We're now working with the UN to identify countries that contribute those troops, so the peacekeeping effort will be robust."

The Government of Sudan had previously denied UN deployment. But, after the signing of the peace treaty, they have expressed their keenness on the deployment of UN peacekeepers.

AU lacks fund

So far, there are around 7,000 African Union peacekeepers in Darfur, but they have failed to play any significant role to control the violence in the region. They are facing a serious shortage of funds and man-power. It had been two months since any soldier in the peacekeeping forces were paid, Nigerian envoy to the African Union confirmed yesterday.

Ambassador Sam Ibok, Nigerian envoy to the AU said, "There have been some cash flow problems, but that has been resolved now and troops will be paid in the next week or so. "

Chad welcomes treaty

Chad, Sudan's neighbouring state, welcomed the signing of the Darfur Peace Agreement between the Sudanese government and the main faction of the rebel Sudan Liberation Movement. Chad broke off diplomatic relations with Sudan on 14 April, a day after an attack on N’Djamena by rebel forces from Sudan. Also, Chad withdrew its delegation from African Union-brokered peace talks for Sudan’s troubled western Darfur region citing Sudanese aggression. Currently, there are more than 200,000 Darfur refugees.

Foreign minister Ahmat Allami said, "Chad welcomes the signing of the Abuja peace deal on Darfur between the warring Sudanese parties after a long period of negotiations."

Libya announced today that it would resume effort to normalize bilateral relations between Chad and Sudan. A Libyan official said a tripartite summit would be held soon.