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Progress made for Darfur hybrid peacekeeping mission
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Progress has been made in the peacekeeping mission by the hybrid United Nations and African Union (AU) force in Darfur, the Chinese government's special representative on Darfur, Liu Guijin, said in Beijing on Friday.

Most obstacles to the deployment of the peacekeepers had been cleared, Liu told a press briefing.

For instance, the advance troops of a 315-strong engineering unit from China and a police unit from Bangladesh have been deployed in Darfur, and African nations such as Egypt and Ethiopia are preparing to send forces as well, he said.

The United Nations and the Sudanese government had over the past month signed the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA). The United Nations, the African Union and the Sudanese government had reached general agreements on issues concerning night navigation and location for the hybrid forces.

As to container transportation, Liu said that Sudan had amended its customs regulations and that no United Nations containers were detained at Sudanese port facilities.

Liu expressed regret that all these steps had been largely ignored by the media and some organizations.

Liu said that one current problem was that the Sudanese government had reservations about whether to accept peacekeepers from Nepal and Thailand. Another problem was that the hybrid forces still lacked 24 helicopters, which was the chief problem for the peacekeeping mission, Liu noted.

Liu urged all parties involved to make concerted efforts to find a solution to the Darfur issue.

The hybrid peacekeeping operation, widely known as UNAMID, will be the largest peacekeeping operation for the international organization in the world. UNAMID is mandated to protect civilians, facilitate humanitarian assistance and help provide a secure environment in Darfur.

Liu's press conference came after he concluded a trip that took him to Britain, Sudan, Chad and France between late February and early March. The trip was intended to help resolve the Darfur issue.

(Xinhua News Agency March 8, 2008)

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