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July 1st, 2008
U.N. Security Council Delegation Visits Darfur

United Nations Security Council representatives visited Darfur on Thursday, where they were scheduled to meet with refugees, aidworkers, U.N. peacekeepers and local government representatives.

The delegation met with officials from the beleaguered U.N./African Union peacekeeping force on Thursday morning. The Sudanese government’s insistence that troops come only from African nations has been a major obstacle for the joint mission, known as UNAMID. But the government promised Wednesday that Thai and Nepalese forces would be allowed into Darfur once Ethiopian and Egyptian troops arrive.

UNAMID commander Gen. Martin Agwai said that with the addition of the Egyptian, Ethiopian, Thai and Nepalese troops, he expects his force to grow from only 9,000 to 13,000 within the next three or four months.

But that number only represents half of the total number of troops authorized by Security Council Resolution 1769, and the mission still lacks attack helicopters, surveillance aircraft, transport helicopters, military engineers, and logistical support necessary to provide security for the people of Darfur.

On Thursday afternoon, the Security Council delegation visited the Zamzam refugee camp, outside the North Sudan capital of El Fasher. There, staff from the U.N.’s World Food Program told the delegates that they might have to cut food rations for the second time in two months due to the worsening security situation. In March, the WFP announced that it was transporting only half as much food as it normally would because bandits and hijackers were making it difficult for trucks to reach their destinations.

The Security Council delegation will meet with Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir on Thursday afternoon.

WIDE ANGLE reports from Darfur in Heart of Darfur, premiering July 1. Check your local listings for air times.

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