AU struggling to strengthen forces in Darfur

ADDIS ABABA - The African Union says it is ready to take on a peacekeeping mission in Somalia - even though it is having difficulty in making good on its commitment to strengthen its forces in Sudan's Darfur killing fields.

ADDIS ABABA - The African Union says it is ready to take on a peacekeeping mission in Somalia - even though it is having difficulty in making good on its commitment to strengthen its forces in Sudan's Darfur killing fields.

"African countries are willing to give any amount of troops for peacekeeping [but] that might be impossible," said the chairman of the AU's peace and security council, Geoffrey Mugumya.

The AU has said it will send 4000 men to reinforce the 7000 already in Darfur.

The proposed force expansion is seen by diplomats as a stop-gap before the mission is transferred to UN troops.

Conflict i n Darfur has killed an estimated 200000 people and displaced 2,5million since early 2003.

Khartoum opposes the UN entry and the AU mission's mandate ends on December 31.

The pan-African body is struggling to rotate serving battalions, let alone add six more at a cost of about $80 million.

"Sometimes you get promises [of funds] but they are not translated into reality," Mugumya said.

An Arab League pledge of $50million for the Darfur mission had not materialised.

"Here we spend most of our time smiling at donors rather than on real issues." - Reuters

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