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Agwai explains reason for death of Nigerian troops in Darfur

Posted by From MOLLY KILETE, Dafur, Sudan on 2008/02/12 | Views: 307 |

Agwai explains reason for death of Nigerian troops in Darfur


The non-availability of military helicopters in the fleet of the United Nations African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) has made it very difficult for the troops to effectively combat activities of rebel groups in that country.

The non-availability of military helicopters in the fleet of the United Nations African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) has made it very difficult for the troops to effectively combat activities of rebel groups in that country.

As a matter of fact, Nigeria would not have suffered the huge casualty it recorded last September, when some rebel groups attacked and killed seven of her soldiers on peace-keeping mission in Afganistan if it had military helicopters in its possession, as it had a prior knowledge of the deadly attack, even before the rebels struck.

Force Commander of UNAMID, General Martin-Luther Agwai, who made this known while speaking with newsmen at the UNAMID headquarters in El-Fasher, Sudan, on Tuesday, said that troops had to depend on commercial helicopters, owned by civillians and that such helicopters are not allowed to land in military camps and locations because of their contract agreement.

His words: “Look, what happened in Afganistan, we knew about it and may be, we would have been able to save some souls, but because of the nature of helicopters we have here, which are contracted by civillians, it took us nine hours before we could get there, whereas it would have taken us only 30 minutes by air.”

Agwai also pointed out that with just 7,000 troops out of the 20,000 needed to effectively carry out its peace-keeping duties, the hybrid force when fully in place will be able to establish a firm and secure base where it can operate from as well as reinforce and respond to distress calls whenever it is called to do so.

He was, however, quick to add that all the equipment in the possession of UNAMID is purely for self defence and not offensive.

He said: “By the time we build the 20,000 troops, we’re going to have a firm base, a secured place where we can operate from and anybody who wants to come and uproot us from that firm base will definitely suffer and will not attempt it, so that is our concept.

“We will have a firm base so that we can reinforce and respond to situation as the need arises. That is why we are looking for helicopters, if you attack us and we want to reinforce, we can reinforce very quickly, but again, every equipment we have here is for self defence, there is nothing for offensive.”

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Fay(Katy, Texas, US)says...

Actually translates to bravehearted.