French troops in Darfur to aid relief efforts

1st August 2004, Comments 0 comments

NDJAMENA, Aug 1 (AFP) - French troops began on Sunday to secure Chad's border with Sudan's troubled Darfur region as part of their mission to aid relief efforts to refugees.

NDJAMENA, Aug 1 (AFP) - French troops began on Sunday to secure Chad's border with Sudan's troubled Darfur region as part of their mission to aid relief efforts to refugees.

"The troops are already in place in Abeche," said France's ambassador to Chad, Jean Pierre Bercot.

French troops began on Saturday to fly relief supplies into the border town, located some 700 kilometres (430 miles) east of the capital Ndjamena.

Some 200 French troops "will patrol the entire length of the border in agreement with Chad's national army," Bercot told AFP.

French President Jacques Chirac on Friday ordered French troops already stationed in Chad to help with efforts to provide relief to the 1.2 million people driven from their homes by Sudanese troops and Arab militia known as Janjaweed.

Some 180,000 Sudanese have fled the fighting in Darfur to Chad, where their security is also precarious.

French troops are not to enter Sudanese territory where the government has warned it would send its army to repel any foreign military intervention.

The UN describes the Darfur crisis, in which it says up to 50,000 people have been slaughtered, as currently the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

It began with an anti-government revolt by two local groups of insurgents that was brutally suppressed by Sudanese troops and their militia allies, with the civilian population caught in the middle.

The rules of engagement for French troops in case Janjaweed militia stage raids in Chad again have not been made public.

Chadian President Idriss Deby has accused Sudan of fomenting militia forces in his country.

Flights between Ndjamena and Abeche carrying relief supplies for refugee camps run by the UN's World Food Program and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees are to continue, said Bercot.

French helicopters based in Abeche would ferry the supplies to the camps, he said.

© AFP

 

Subject: French news

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