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Last Updated: Thursday, 28 April 2005, 10:53 GMT 11:53 UK
Darfur's frustrated peacekeeper
Col Mwandobi looking at a map
Col Mwandobi has a vast, troublesome area to cover
A senior African Union peacekeepers in Sudan's Darfur region has told the BBC of the frustration his job entails.

Colonel Anthony Mwandobi from Zambia, sector commander for the Zalingei area, said his forces are "understrength".

"I need to have enough troops, I need to have communications equipment, I need to have transport - they are all in short supply," he said.

More than two years after the conflict began in Sudan's Darfur region, there are still only about 2,000 peacekeeping troops with a limited mandate, tying to keep tabs on an area the size of France.

The rebels and the government signed a ceasefire a year ago but both sides frequently violate it - with civilians bearing the brunt of atrocities.

More than two million people have fled and the United Nations says some 180,000 have died.

The African Union is meeting this week to discuss increasing the number of troops in Darfur but it says it does not have enough money to send any more.

Militias trained

The government strongly denies giving support to the Janjaweed militias, accused of the worst atrocities, such as mass rape, mass killing and ethnic cleansing which has led some two million people to flee their homes.

But Col Mwandobi said it is "very clear".

Burnt out village
This village was burnt by Janjaweed militias

He said that Janjaweed fighters wore military uniforms, which they said had been given to them by the Sudanese army.

The Janjaweed also say they have been trained by the army.

"The training is done for one month and thereafter, they are let go," Col Mwandobi said.

He said there are frequent clashes in his sector, which includes the Marra mountains, where the Sudan Liberation Army rebels have bases.

"There has been a sudden influx of [pro-government] Arab militias attacking civilians this month," he said, adding that aid workers in the region have been targeted.

But he also said the rebels frequently come out of their hiding places to attack the army.

"It's a see-saw battle," he said.


Both sides say they want the African Union peace mission to succeed but neither does anything on the ground to help, he said.

"One wonders how we can succeed if they still go to battle," he asked, with an air of resignation in his voice.

But faced with covering such a vast area and with two sides seemingly committed to carrying on the war, Col Mwandobi refused to give up.

"We are doing our best to meet every incident that is reported and making ourselves felt in every area," he said.

"We have been informed that more troops are coming."

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