United Nations: The 4,000 Ethiopian
troops that the United Nations wants to send to the disputed
Sudanese region of Abyei will be one of the strongest forces
ever assembled for a territory of this size, officials said.
There are currently about 1,000 UN troops in Abyei,
which has been occupied by north Sudan forces since May 21.
Abyei is just 10,000 square kilometers and by
comparison the whole UN mission in north and south Sudan,
which is 2.5 million square kilometers, has 10,000 troops and
The Ethiopian contingent is also expected to take
attack helicopters to patrol the territory that has become
nearly deserted since the Khartoum military operation, which
prompted tens of thousands of people to flee to south Sudan.
"It is a big force but there is already fighting in
South Kordofan nearby and the border conflict could spread
further," warned one UN diplomat, speaking on condition of
anonymity as the United Nations has not yet officially
announced the force size.
"We also want the people who have fled to return."
The United States has said it will quickly propose a
UN Security Council resolution giving UN backing to the
Ethiopian force for Abyei.
"We want to underscore the urgency of Ethiopian troops
deploying immediately to Abyei" under UN auspices, US
ambassador Susan Rice told a Security Council debate on Sudan
where a north-south accord on Abyei was announced.
"The United States will soon circulate a draft
Security Council resolution for council consideration to
authorize creation of this proposed interim security force,"
African Union mediator Thabo Mbeki told the Security
Council that the Khartoum government and southern Sudan had
signed an accord to demilitarize Abyei, which is disputed by
the two sides.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon welcomed the Sudan
accord but warned both sides "to abide in full by its
provisions to demilitarize the area" and provide "full
cooperation" with the UN mission and the Ethiopian troops.