KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — Two C-130 Hercules transport planes from Ramstein Air Base will help shuttle African peacekeeping troops to Sudan’s troubled Darfur region this month, officials from the U.S. Air Forces in Europe said Tuesday.

The 86th Airlift Wing planes will help carry some 3,500 African Union troops to the region, where more than 1.6 million people have been displaced during a 20-month civil war.

The White House said Monday that President Bush directed Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld to make the planes available for two weeks to support part of the African Union mission in Sudan, according to a White House statement.

The United States is working with other nations, including Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, along with the European Union, to expand the peacekeeping mission, the statement said. The additional troops are meant to quell violence to allow for the free flow of humanitarian aid to the region. Up to 70,000 people have died since March due to their squalid living conditions since being displaced from their villages, the United Nations said.

The Ramstein aircraft will help ferry troops from neighboring African nations to the Sudan, USAFE spokesman Maj. Patrick Ryder said Tuesday.

The base hosts two C-130 squadrons, used primarily for carrying troops and supplies in the U.S. European Command area of operations.

The first 1,000 African peacekeeping troops are expected to come from Rwanda and Nigeria, the White House statement said.

The African Union mission’s immediate goal is to “intensify monitoring of the cease-fire and help create conditions to increase the free flow of humanitarian assistance to the people of Darfur,” the statement said.

At this time, the Ramstein planes will carry only troops, not humanitarian supplies, to the region, Ryder said.

Australia has offered two C-130 Hercules planes as well. The United States has allocated an additional $20.5 million to provide for logistical assistance to support the peacekeeping mission.

The United States has demanded that Khartoum end its support for the Arab Janjaweed militia, which is accused of an ethnic cleansing campaign against the region’s indigenous black African population.

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