Irish troops arrive in Chad

Ireland's presence in war-torn Chad was stepped up today with the arrival of more than 160 troops.

After an overnight flight, the members of the 97th Infantry Battalion of the Defence Forces landed in the region at 8am for their most dangerous and challenging mission to date.

The soldiers in the troubled African state will be working to save the lives of more than 400,000 refugees and internally displaced people occupying refugee camps along the border with Darfur.

Defence Minister Willie O'Dea said the EU mission had a specific United Nations mandate to save the lives of the fleeing refugees.

"There is no greater honour for a soldier than to protect and save life," he said.

"This Chad mission demonstrates how the European Union can respond positively and significantly to conflict and dire humanitarian crisis and how Ireland can, and must continue to play its part in this."

There are 390 Irish personnel now on the ground in Chad, with a further 150 to be deployed there within two weeks.

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