Ethiopian peacekeepers arrive in contested Abyei By ARGAW ASHINE in Addis Ababa | Friday, July 15  2011 at  18:29

A Zambian soldier serving with the UN peacekeeping mission in Abyei on patrol. Ethiopian troops have started arriving in the contested region. FILE | AFRICA REVIEW 

Ethiopian peacekeepers mandated by UN Security Council have started deploying in Sudan's contested Abyei region.

Both North and South Sudan are claiming ownership of the oil rich region.

Some 4,200 blue helmet troops departed from western Ethiopia Thursday, with some arriving in Abeyi Friday, ready to execute their mandate.

According to Ethiopian Defence office, the troops have full logistics support in place.

Ethiopian army chief General Samora Yenus told to the peacekeepers during the farewell ceremony held in Bir-Sheleko army base, that theirs would be one of the most challenging UN missions, and urged the soldiers to try their best to live up to their promise.

Demilitarisation of the oil rich region is listed as a priority task of the Ethiopian peacekeepers.

It is a rare arrangement for the UN peacekeepers in any region to come from an immediate neighbour.

South Sudan declared its independence on July 9 before the settlement of the Abyei controversy.

The African Union mediators are set to restart their efforts to resolve the Abyei dispute next week.