Kamis, Februari 25, 2010

Ethiopia sends five Helicopters to Darfur peacekeepers

The Ethiopian government today said that a tactical aviation unit comprising of five helicopters has headed to Sudan’s Darfur region to join the badly-needing African Union and UN peacekeeping operation in Darfur (UNAMID).

Speaking at the departure ceremony, Ethiopian air force chief, Major General Mola Hailemariam said that Ethiopia has continued to proof herself the commitment it has to peace.

He said the move is an indication of the country’s military competence and commitment to take part in regional and international peace keeping missions.

An official ceremony to receive the five MI-35 tactical helicopters is expected to be held this week in Nyala-South Darfur where these choppers will be based. A high level delegation from Ethiopia is expected to attend the event.

The helicopters arrived in Nyala, South Darfur, with 15 pilots and crew members onboard. They will join a 185 member advance team, including pilots, technicians and protection force, which arrived last month, the hybrid mission said today.

The UNAMID force still needs 18 transport choppers to move the supplies and equipment necessary to carry out its mandate.

While conferring with the Ethiopian foreign affairs minister earlier this month, the new head of UNAMID Ibrahim Gambari Lauded Ethiopia’s efforts for Sudan peace and its continued contributions to support the AU/UN peace force.

He then called on Ethiopia to further strengthen its support to UNAMID joint coordination and support mechanism in Addis Ababa

Ethiopia has so far contributed nearly two battalions of peacekeeping forces which he said, was significant.

Ethiopia’s contribution of the Helicopters is said to boost the capabilities of the hybrid peace force by easing mobility problems and other difficulties the peace keeping activity is facing due to the large size of Darfur, equivalent to the size of France.

The Ethiopian troops deployed in Darfur consist of an infantry battalion and engineering unit, as well as a multi role, reconnaissance and transport companies.

The Ethiopian troops provide transport service, conduct security patrols within area of responsibility to enhance security and encourage confidence with the local population, conduct escorts for humanitarian convoys and accomplish other peace keeping related operations.

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