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U.N. team to help Sudan security

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UNITED NATIONS (CNN) -- U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan is sending a U.N. security team to Addis Adaba to assist the African Union (AU) with the security situation in the Darfur region of Sudan, where armed gangs known as the Janjaweed have driven thousands from their homes.

Speaking to reporters after briefing the Security Council, Annan said the team, leaving Wednesday night, is led by U.N. Military Adviser Patrick Cammaert.

Its mission will be to help the AU with logistical and operational support.

The AU, for its part, is planning to increase the size of its force to protect international monitors beyond the previously agreed upon number of 300.

The AU currently has nearly 100 unarmed observers in Darfur but may boost that number to 2,000.

"I think the (AU) force would protect the monitors," Annan said.

"I expect its mere presence on the ground would have a positive impact and would dissuade further attacks by Janjaweed and outlaw groups."

An estimated 1 million people have fled their homes in the Darfur region of eastern Sudan, in fear of the Janjaweed gangs that Khartoum has promoted as proxies to battle rebels in the region.

The Janjaweed have been accused of wholesale rape, looting and murder of the civilian population.

Annan's special envoy to Darfur, who recently returned from a visit to the region, also said Wednesday that the increase in international monitors would help promote stability on the ground in Darfur and further spur Khartoum to rein in the Janjaweed.

"In fact, one non-governmental organization told us that they need support to increase their numbers, to increase their presence and that the presence itself would form a sort of protection," said Francis Deng, representative of the secretary-general for internally displaced persons

The U.N. Security Council last week approved a resolution implicitly threatening to impose sanctions on Sudan if the Khartoum government did not take steps to stop the Janjaweed attacks.

The U.N. secretary general said that, while the Sudanese government has allowed access for humanitarian relief, it has more to do to ensure protection for the people of Darfur.

Part of that protection involves the security of U.N. and other international workers, Annan said.

Earlier Wednesday, tens of thousands of protesters rallied in front of the United Nations' offices in Khartoum against the prospect of Western-led military intervention over Darfur.

"Sometimes governments use these demonstrations to put pressure on the U.N. and to send a message to the International community," Annan said.

"But of course, the government also has to be aware that it has responsibility for the protection the U.N. staff and the U.N. facilities."

The conflict in Darfur began last year when black Sudanese rebels attacked government property, accusing the government of neglecting Darfur in favor of the Arab population in Sudan. The government responded by setting up the Janjaweed, to put down the rebellion.

Human rights groups estimate 15,000 to 30,000 civilians have been killed and more than 1.2 million people have been left homeless.

Journalist Gladys Njoroge in Nairobi contributed to this report

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