Force deployment for Darfur neighbors resumes

February 12, 2008 8:38:36 AM PST
The European Union resumed deployment Tuesday of a much-awaited peacekeeping force for two countries neighboring Sudan's troubled Darfur region, a military official said.The deployment had stalled because of an armed rebellion in Chad earlier this month.

The arrival of an C-130 transport plane Tuesday afternoon in the town of Abeche, eastern Chad, carrying equipment, "marks the restart of the deployment of the EUFOR force for Chad and Central African Republic," Lt. Col. Philippe de Cussac, a force spokesman, said from its headquarters outside Paris.

A 150-person advance team already has arrived, with the bulk of the 3,700-strong peacekeeping force expected to be flown in next month, he said. The force is designed to help protect thousands of refugees who have fled the fighting in Darfur.

The force deployment was repeatedly delayed - mostly over trouble winning troop commitments by EU member states. More recently, it stalled because of a failed rebel attack on Chad's capital that threatened stability in the country.

The commander in Chad of the EU force, Brig. Gen. Jean-Philippe Ganascia, said Sunday he hoped the entire force would arrive within three months.