UN troops to enter Darfur

After months of negotiations and threats of sanctions, the Sudanese government has finally accepted the UN peacekeeping role in Darfur. The strengthening of the UN forces aims to bring peace to the region.

Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir agreed to the forces on the condition that most of the troops are African. His comments show Sudan is still resisting a large scale UN role in Darfur. For months, Bashir rejected the deployment of 20,000 UN troops in the region, saying it violated Khartoum's sovereignty and was a colonialist plot.

The conflict began in 2003 when rebel groups attacked government targets, saying the region was being neglected by Khartoum. The government admits mobilising “self-defence militias” following rebel attacks but deny any links to the infamous Janjaweed militant group. Refugees say that following air raids by government aircraft, the Janjaweed ride into villages on horses and camels, slaughtering men and raping and kidnapping women.

Human rights groups, the U.S. Congress and the former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, say that genocide is taking place. But a UN team sent to investigate said that while war crimes had been committed, there had been no intent to commit genocide.

Three years of fighting have left at least 200,000 people dead and made another 2.5 million homeless. Some 200,000 refugees have sought safety in neighbouring Chad, but many of these are camped along a 600km stretch of the border and remain vulnerable to attacks from Sudan.