UN plans shut­ting down Dar­fur peace mis­sion in 2020

Gulf Times - - REGION/ARAB WORLD -

The UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil yes­ter­day agreed to fur­ther draw down its joint peace­keep­ing mis­sion with the African Union in Su­dan’s trou­bled Dar­fur re­gion and put in mo­tion steps that could lead to its clo­sure at the end of 2020.

A Bri­tish-drafted res­o­lu­tion was unan­i­mously adopted at the coun­cil to re­new un­til June 2019 the man­date of the UNAMID mis­sion, once among the big­gest and costli­est of all peace op­er­a­tions.

Su­dan has long de­manded an exit strat­egy for UNAMID, which now has about 10,500 troops and po­lice de­ployed with a man­date to pro­tect civil­ians caught up in fight­ing be­tween Su­danese gov­ern­ment forces and Dar­fur rebel groups.

A joint re­port by UN Sec­re­tary-Gen­eral An­to­nio Guter­res and the African Com­mis­sion rec­om­mended that the mis­sion be­gin its exit from Dar­fur in June 2020 if se­cu­rity im­proves, with a view to shut­ting down by the end of De­cem­ber.

The res­o­lu­tion re­quests that Guter­res re­port to the coun­cil ev­ery three months on whether Su­dan is meet­ing bench­marks and in­di­ca­tors that would al­low the mis­sion’s planned exit to go ahead.

Fol­low­ing the vote, Su­dan Am­bas­sador Omer Da­hab Fadl Mo­hamed thanked the coun­cil and stressed that Dar­fur since 2015 “has en­joyed se­cu­rity and sta­bil­ity, and that the hu­man­i­tar­ian sit­u­a­tion has be­come com­pletely sta­ble.”

“The re­al­ity on the ground in the five Dar­fur states is un­de­ni­able,” he said.

The res­o­lu­tion au­tho­rises a sharp cut in the au­tho­rised troop level from about 8,700 cur­rently to 4,050 by June of next year but noted that the coun­cil could “ad­just the scope and pace of the re­duc­tion.”

The coun­cil kept the ceil­ing for the po­lice force at its cur­rent level of 2,500.

Diplo­mats said Bri­tain, backed by France and the Nether­lands, had tried to scrap men­tion of a pro­posed tar­get of 2020 for the pos­si­ble UNAMID with­drawal in the res­o­lu­tion.A coun­cil diplo­mat said the United States qui­etly en­dorsed it, in line with the US ad­min­is­tra­tion’s push to cut peace­keep­ing costs.

Ethiopia, China and Rus­sia back the 2020 exit.

De­ployed in 2007, UNAMID once had 16,000 blue hel­mets on the ground tasked with pro­tect­ing civil­ians in Dar­fur, but the coun­cil last year agreed to a ma­jor draw­down.

The con­flict in Dar­fur erupted in 2003 when rebels took up arms against Su­dan’s gov­ern­ment, ac­cus­ing it of marginal­i­sa­tion.

In re­cent years, the level of vi­o­lence has sig­nif­i­cantly dropped across Dar­fur, with Khar­toum in­sist­ing that the con­flict has ended in the re­gion.

The United Na­tions says that over the years the con­flict has killed about 300,000 peo­ple and dis­placed more than 2.5mn, with many hav­ing set up home over the last decade and a half in sprawl­ing semiper­ma­nent camps.

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