China's peacekeepers in Darfur have made contributions to the Sudanese region's peace, stability and development, an official with the Ministry of National Defense said in Beijing on Thursday.
China, the first nation outside Africa to send peacekeepers to Darfur, has pledged to send a 315-member multi-functional engineering unit.
A 140-member Chinese peacekeeping engineering unit was deployed in south Darfur's capital city Nyala last November, and the second batch of 175 peacekeepers will arrive there soon.
Dai Shao'an, deputy director of the peacekeeping affairs office with the National Defense Ministry, told Xinhua that the unit's main responsibility is to build and maintain roads and bridges, dig wells and build a helicopter parking apron to prepare for the deployment of the hybrid UN-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID).
"At present, the advance unit is mainly engaged in the construction of a new camp for the hybrid international peacekeeping force in south Darfur," Dai said.
The camp, 2 kilometers long and 1.5 kilometers wide, will house the UNAMID's south Darfur command and all United Nations peacekeepers in Nyala, according to the official.
"The camp has begun to take shape," he said. China's peacekeepers have so far leveled an area of about 65,000 square meters and dug 12,600 cubic meters of gravel.
Their performance has won high praise from the UN and the UNAMID, he said.
Some UN peacekeeping officials, including Joint Special Representative of the UN and African Union (AU) for Darfur Rodolphe Adada and UNAMID sector commander Brig. Gen. Federick Eze – lauded the work of China's peacekeepers in Darfur during their inspection.
The Darfur crisis, which has drawn international attention, has lasted for five years as rebels took up arms against the Sudanese government and accused it of marginalizing the arid region. A humanitarian crisis emerged in the region after years of conflict and fighting.
(Xinhua News Agency March 7, 2008)