New York, NY (BBN)- Some 163 Bangladeshi officers arrived on Thursday to serve with the hybrid United Nations-African Union peacekeeping mission in Darfur (UNAMID), the operation tasked with quelling the violence and humanitarian suffering across the war-torn region of western Sudan.

The UNAMID reported that another 162 personnel are due to join the multi-role logistics unit On Friday in Nyala, the capital of South Darfur state, giving a boost to the joint AU-UN mission in logistical support, according to a UN press statement.

The Bangladeshi unit brings additional logistical and engineering capabilities in the areas of supply, transport, maintenance and force protection to UNAMID.

Bangladesh is the second-largest UN troop-contributing country and its current deployment in Darfur includes one formed police unit (FPU) also deployed in South Darfur, as well as 53 individual police advisers, the statement added.

Thursday’s deployment brings the total number of UNAMID forces – slated to eventually become the world body’s largest peacekeeping operation with some 26,000 personnel at full strength – to 8,917 troops and police officers on the ground. But it still lacks essential equipment, including helicopters.

An additional 3,000 personnel, mostly from Ethiopia and Egypt, are expected to join UNAMID in the next two months, bringing the total number of troops by the end of November to over 12,000, the UN said.

Meanwhile, some 230 schoolchildren from El Fasher joined UNAMID and the UN country team in celebration of UN Day in the North Darfur capital, with a variety of events, including the performance of songs by the children and traditional dances by UNAMID personnel from Gambia, Rwanda, Indonesia and Afghanistan.

The Day was also marked with the launch of a UN-sponsored tree-planting campaign, aimed at fighting the desertification of the impoverished and arid region.

An estimated 300,000 people have been killed in Darfur since fighting erupted in 2003 between government forces, allied Janjaweed militiamen and the rebels, while 2.7 million others have been forced from their homes and now live as refugees or as internally displaced persons (IDPs).

BBN/SI/SS/AD-24October08-2:49 PM (BST)