by Staff Writers
Khartoum (AFP) July 21, 2011
Ethiopian peacekeepers have started to arrive in Sudan's flashpoint Abyei region and will begin operations by the end of the week, official media reported Thursday, paving the way for the army's withdrawal.
"A brigade of Ethiopian peacekeepers will arrive in the Abyei region later this week ... Around 4,200 troops have already travelled (to Sudan) overland in the past week," an Ethiopian foreign ministry spokesman was quoted as saying by the official SUNA news agency.
"This mission, which operates under the auspices of the United Nations, will start peacekeeping operations in the Abyei area by the end of this week," he added.
The UN Security Council ordered the Ethiopian peacekeeping force to the bitterly contested Sudanese border region last month in a bid to douse tensions between north and south in the run-up to the July 9 partition.
The Sudanese army occupied Abyei town and the surrounding area in May, prompting more than 110,000 ethnically southern residents to flee south, according to the United Nations.
The Ethiopian force is responsible for monitoring the withdrawal of Sudanese troops, protecting civilians and establishing the peaceful conditions for holding a referendum on Abyei's future status, which had been due to take place last January but was cancelled.
"The Sudanese troops will withdraw from Abyei after the Ethiopians complete their deployment in the area," army spokesman Sawarmi Khaled Saad told AFP.
Speaking to the southern army on Tuesday, South Sudanese President Salva Kiir insisted, for the first time since his country formally declared independence from the north, that Abyei belonged to and would eventually rejoin the south.
"Abyei belongs to us. Whether (Sudanese President) Omar al-Bashir likes it or not, one day Abyei will rejoin the south," he said.
For his part, shortly after the Sudanese army's occupation of the region in May, Bashir said Abyei was "north Sudanese land," which he was "prepared for a new war" over.
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UN asks for $500 million more in 2011 aid funding
Geneva (AFP) July 20, 2011
The United Nations on Wednesday sought $500 million more in aid funding for 2011 as serious drought hit the Horn of Africa, bringing the total sum needed for 31 countries to $7.9 billion for the year. "The most worrying development is the intensifying drought in the Horn of Africa," said UN aid chief Valerie Amos as she launched the mid-year review of its 2011 humanitarian appeal. Major ... read more
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