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August 16, 2008

Crucial equipment piles up in port Sudan

By Opheera McDoom KHARTOUM (Reuters)
It will take weeks to deploy more peacekeepers to Darfur even once reinforcements arrive because of the difficulties Darfur Peacekeeping Force commander Martin Luther Agwai told Reuters that even once troops arrive, there was a problem moving vast quantities of weapons, ammunition, vehicles and generators across thousands of kilometres of hostile terrain from Sudan's only port.

"It cannot be anything less than eight weeks to move one container to Darfur," he said, adding that the equipment had to move from Darfur's main towns to the force's remote bases.gwai, a Nigerian, said 335 Egyptian engineers just deployed had brought 1,000 containers of equipment with them.

Those engineers will help build barracks for the soldiers in the northern Darfur sector. Chinese engineers will build barracks for the south and UNAMID is awaiting a Pakistani engineering company for West Darfur.

Agwai said each battalion for UNAMID needed 26 Armoured Personnel Carriers (APCs) and 80 trucks. An Egyptian battalion of 800 soldiers was ready to deploy, he added, but could not come to Darfur without its equipment or barracks.

Agwai said Sudan's government could help by expediting customs clearances at Port Sudan, in the east, and by providing armed escorts for the convoys into Darfur, in the west of Africa's biggest country. UNAMID has no mandate outside Darfur.
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