Two new contingents of Nigerian police officers trained in high-risk operations have joined the joint United Nations-African Union (AU) peacekeeping mission in the war-ravaged Darfur region of Sudan.
The new contingents – each comprising 140 personnel – bring the total number of Formed Police Units (FPUs) serving with the mission, known as UNAMID, to five, following the earlier arrival of units from Bangladesh, Indonesia and Nepal.
FPUs are specialized, self-sufficient and fully mobile rapid reaction units that are entirely composed of police officers from a single contingent, with expertise in crowd management and other police tactical operations.
The Nigerian police will be deployed in West Darfur, and UNAMID expects to have 19 FPUs once at full strength.
Last week, as the mission marked its first anniversary, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon confirmed that troop levels have exceeded 60 per cent of the full authorized strength.
The hybrid force was set up by the Security Council to protect civilians on the western flank of Sudan, where an estimated 300,000 people have been killed and another 2.7 million have been forced from their homes since fighting erupted in 2003, pitting rebels against Government forces and allied Janjaweed militiamen.
One year on from transferring the task of suppressing the violence to UNAMID from the AU Mission in Sudan (AMIS), some 12,374 blue helmets are now in place across Darfur, which is 63 per cent of the 19,555 military personnel authorized by the Security Council.