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Thousands of troops needed in Darfur to protect civilians and aid workers, UN envoy says

23 March 2005 Condemning a recent attack on humanitarian aid workers as ultimately victimizing the people who need help, the head of the United Nations mission in Sudan today said civilians and aid workers in western Sudan's Darfur region need several thousand troops for protection.

The convoy was attacked yesterday on the road between Nyala and Kass in South Darfur, injuring one person, even though the cars were clearly marked as humanitarian vehicles, and the attackers fired no warning shots, making it "clearly an ambush," Jan Pronk, the Special Representative of Secretary-General Kofi Annan for Sudan, said through a spokesperson.

Mr. Pronk "believes that these incidents are not likely to stop unless a very robust protection force of at least 8,000 troops is deployed in Darfur to protect the civilian population and the humanitarian workers and humanitarian deliveries," the spokesperson said from the office of the UN Advance Mission in Sudan (UNAMIS).

The UN once more has closed the road from Nyala to Kass to UN workers until further notice, Mr. Pronk said, noting that it was closed in February but was re-opened "because of the compelling necessity to provide humanitarian assistance to the large IDP (internally displaced) population in the area."

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