UN ups troop numbers in Sudan
Khartoum - The UN has begun deploying more peacekeepers to the contested
Abyei region between Sudan and South Sudan, a UN official said on Thursday,
while Khartoum insisted it is still not ready to withdraw its forces.
"The flights are already coming in," said spokesperson for the UN Interim
Security Force for Abyei (Unisfa), Alok Singh Rawat.
"We're expecting some more troops to be arriving today."
South Sudan Information Minister Barnaba Marial Benjamin in November alleged
that deployment of the peacekeepers was being "intentionally delayed" by
But Unisfa's spokesperson said troops are arriving "as planned".
He said a third battalion had begun landing over the past two days, with
about 120 additional soldiers expected to fly in on Thursday.
Almost six months after the UN Security Council authorised the peacekeeping
mission, troop numbers are at 3 433 and likely to reach full strength of
about 4 200 by month's end as the deployment peaks, Rawat said.
The Sudanese army in May overran the fertile border district claimed by
north and south.
More than 110 000 residents fled south, souring relations between Juba and
Khartoum in the run-up to the formal independence of South Sudan on July 9.
Under an agreement brokered by the UN and AU, the two governments pledged to
redeploy their troops by the end of September but in November the Security
Council "deplored the failure" of the two sides to withdraw.
Sudan will pull out of the area when the peacekeepers are at full strength,
when joint administration of Abyei is established between Sudan and South
Sudan, and a monitoring committee for the pullout is in place, said
Khartoum's army spokesperson, Swarmi Khaled Saad.
A South Sudanese member of parliament for Abyei on Thursday said Unisfa's
troop build-up was a failure.
"Even if they bring 1 000 more or 10 000 more there, it is useless as they
are not going to force Sudan out of Abyei," said Arop Madut Arop.
* Sudan fighting displaces 400 000
* Heavy fighting in Sudan - rebels
* 11 killed in South Sudan's Jonglei
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Received on Thu Dec 15 2011 - 18:39:13 EST