Russia to participate in UN Peacekeeping operation in Darfur

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Moscow, Sep 23 (UNI) Russia will send a group of military experts to Darfur to join the largest UN peacekeeping operation to date.

''The preparation for the unprecedented joint peacekeeping mission involving the African Union and the United Nations is going according to plans despite obvious complications,'' Russia's envoy to the UN Vitaly Churkin said at a high-level meeting on Darfur at the UN and added that Russia will join Darfur operation and its military observers will be sent to the region, Ria Novosti reported.

Russia is the third in the world in terms of the number of military observers participating in UN peacekeeping missions.

After almost a year of rejection, Khartoum finally agreed in June to a peacekeeping operation in Darfur, to be run jointly by the UN and the African Union (AU), which will provide a total of 23,000 troops.

The 53-member AU with 7,000-strong force in the region so far has not been able to stop fighting. The UN estimated violence and disease have killed at least 200,000 and forced 2 million from their homes in Darfur since 2003, when rebel groups began fighting with the pro-government Jangaweed militia. The rebel groups, mainly made up of black African farmers, accuse the government in Khartoum of discrimination in favor of the Arab population and want a fairer slice in oil revenues.

UNI

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