Thursday, August 18, 2005

Today I discover that the African Union soldiers in Darfur may have bigger problems than worrying about the the way that they are perceived by the locals: there's a chance they won't be getting paid salaries soon.

Media reports are claiming that funding shortfalls to the mission may mean that the cash for soldiers' salaries could run out in about three months.

"Within three months we will not be able to pay the wages of our troops who are on the ground there," an AU official told the Associated Press in Addis Ababa. "The international community, UN, European Union and NATO can't ask us to increase our force in Darfur and then not come up with the money."

This news seems to have been confirmed by a visiting US politician, Chris Smith, who told IRIN: "We were told they were $173 million short and would only be able to carry on the programme of deployment for three months, and it is mostly in the area of medicine, but also as to whether the troops will get paid."

I know they're getting to play lots of football and drive around in shiny white cars, but somehow I still doubt the news will go down too well with those guys over in dusty Darfur (who, if rumours are to be believed, are only getting a pretty miserable salary for their presence to start off with). I dread to think what all of this will be doing to troop morale in the coming weeks...

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