Kenya's government Wednesday said it was dispatching 820 soldiers to southern Sudan to boost the U.N. peacekeeping mission there.
President Mwai Kibaki told the departing soldiers he was confident the Kenyan peacekeepers will help alleviate the suffering experienced by civilians in Southern Sudan.
"I am pleased to note that this particular mission to Sudan includes a humanitarian demining company with 104 men," said Mr. Kibaki. "They are specialized in risky tasks and have the very noble goal of minimizing the suffering of civilians by making their farms and roads and fields mine free to allow a resumption of economic activity. My government is committed to providing the necessary resources to support the task you are embarking on. I am confident that with the preparations you have made will successfully carry out its mandate."
President Kibaki said his government is taking part in a number of initiatives aimed at restoring and maintaining peace in the region. He said Nairobi had spearheaded the peace process that led to the signing of a peace agreement between the Sudan Peoples Liberation Army (SPLA) in the south and the government of President Hassan el Bashir in January.
That accord paved way for the formation of a government of national unity composed of former SPLA fighters in Khartoum and the deployment of a U.N. mission in Sudan, UNAMIS.
The Kenyan soldiers are part of a U.N. contingent that is expected to grow to 10,000 and remain in Sudan during the six-year transition period.
Since taking part in the first peace keeping mission in Zimbabwe 25 years ago, the East African nations have sent peacekeepers to 26 missions in 21countries in various parts of the world.