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Protecting The People Of Darfur

The African Union plans to increase the number of peacekeepers in the western Darfur region of Sudan. The number will rise from about three-thousand three-hundred to more than seven-thousand-seven-hundred.

Kenya, Rwanda, Nigeria, and Senegal will be providing additional troops. The African Union is also asking its fifty-three member countries and others to provide funding and equipment. The U.S. has already contributed more than ninety-five-million dollars to support the African Union peacekeeping mission in Darfur. The European Union is supporting the African Union mission in Darfur with more than one-hundred-twenty-million dollars in assistance for planning and logistical support. Adam Thiam, an African Union spokesman, says the troop increase is needed to help protect the people of Darfur:

"Where the A-U troop is, there is less insecurity. Insecurity is happening also because many areas are not covered."

Civil war broke out in Darfur in 2003. Complaining of discrimination by Arab Sudanese, African rebels attacked government facilities. Sudanese Arab Janjaweed militia supported by the Sudanese government responded by attacking members of Darfur's African Fur, Masalit, and Zaghawa tribes. Thousands of civilians were killed and there are numerous reports of violence and rape against women. There are now more than one-million displaced persons in Darfur, with approximately two-hundred-thousand others living as refugees in neighboring Chad.

A peace agreement was signed this year by representatives of the Sudanese government and the rebel Sudan People's Liberation Movement. The agreement calls for decentralizing power and sharing Sudan's petroleum wealth.

"The number and scale of incidents [in Darfur] has gone down," says State Department spokesman Richard Boucher. But, he says, "It's still a dangerous situation for the people there."

The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States government.