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Last Updated: Tuesday, 18 July 2006, 16:48 GMT 17:48 UK
New aid for AU Darfur peace force
African Union soldier in Darfur
The AU mission in Darfur desperately needs funds
Major donors have pledged to increase aid for peacekeeping in Sudan's Darfur region, responding to warnings that the delicate peace process is in danger.

The 7,000-strong African Union force in Darfur is running short of funds.

At a donor conference in Brussels, the US pledged an extra $116m (64m) and the EU and European countries pledged some $100m (55m).

Earlier, aid agencies warned the region is on the brink of disaster, amid fears a May peace deal could collapse.

The aid agencies said Western donors were failing African Union (AU) soldiers in Darfur who depend on their funds.

Correspondents say the security situation in Darfur has got worse despite the peace deal.

Most of Darfur's two million displaced people have rejected the deal and rebel movements continue to fight one another.

'Limitation'

Despite the cash injection, which came after UN Secretary General Kofi Annan made a personal appeal, questions remain over the AU's longer-term deployment.

It is the conviction of the African Union that it has taken the responsibility for peacekeeping operations in Darfur to the limit of its capacity
Said Djinnit
African Union
Sudan's government has not yet given backing for UN troops to take over from the AU, but the AU itself needs even more money to remain in the region past September.

Said Djinnit, from the AU, said the organisation would need more support if it was to stay on until the end of the year.

"The African Union has made that specific operation because of its commitment to peace to Darfur and to Sudan. It was aware of its limitations.

"It is the conviction of the African Union that it has taken the responsibility for peacekeeping operations in Darfur to the limit of its capacity."

Troops 'set up to fail'

In their statement, the eight agencies - which include Oxfam, Care International, Islamic Relief and Oxfam International - said the 7,000 AU soldiers in Darfur are being set up to fail.

Darfur map
The agencies accused donors of treating Darfur's people like a bargaining chip, and said $300m (165m) was urgently needed to fund the AU mission until the end of the year.

The agencies insisted that more focus was needed on the situation on the ground now, rather than plans for the months to come.

"While an enormous amount of energy is being spent debating what will happen in six months' time, no-one seems to have noticed that people are still being killed today," said Denis Caillaux of Care International.

Genocide warning

The EU representative to Sudan also spoke out ahead of the conference, warning of the potential for greater conflict - or even genocide - in Darfur.

"If the African Union says: 'Sorry, we have to finish now, we cannot run this operation,' we lose the last internationals who are following the situation - in the camps, around the camps, who are giving at least a minimum protection to these refugees," Pekka Haavisto told the BBC.

"I think internationally we cannot afford this... because then we are very close to the possible scenarios of genocide, or Rwanda scenarios, if you don't have any organised international force on the ground."




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