Thursday, August 31, 2006
UNITED NATIONS (CNN) -- The U.N. Security Council on Thursday passed a resolution to form a U.N. peacekeeping force for Sudan's war-torn region of Darfur, provided the African nation reverses its opposition.
The resolution would beef up the financially strapped African Union's force of 7,000 troops, which has been unable to quell the violence there.
Sudan, however, has steadfastly opposed a U.N. peacekeeping force taking over from the African Union. The main sponsors of the resolution, the United States and Britain, hoped the Security Council vote would pressure Sudanese President Omar el-Bashir to change his mind, The Associated Press reported.
The resolution passed 12-0, with three nations abstaining -- China, Russia and Qatar.
The draft calls for the mandate of the U.N. Mission in Sudan, or UNMIS, to be expanded to Darfur. UNMIS is in Sudan's southern region helping to implement a 2005 peace accord there.
It calls for the force to be "strengthened by up to 17,300 military personnel and by an appropriate civilian component, including up to 3,300 civilian police personnel and up to 16 formed police units."
If Sudan agrees to the resolution, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan would consult with the African Union and the government and rebels on a transition from the African Mission in Sudan to a U.N. operation in Darfur, a process that would unfold throughout the rest of the year.
The draft also calls for helping the Darfur Peace Agreement parties to improve the country's police service, promote an independent judiciary and national legal framework, and promote human rights.
Violence has increased in the Darfur region despite a peace agreement signed May 5 by the Sudanese government and the largest of three rebel groups -- the Sudan Liberation Army.
Nine humanitarian workers have been killed in the past month, and more than 200 women have been raped at a Darfur refugee camp in the past five weeks. On Saturday, two soldiers from the African Union were killed by an unidentified group of men.
The crisis started three years ago, when ethnic African rebels took up arms over what they saw as neglect by the Arab-dominated central government.
The Sudanese government is accused of responding by unleashing Arab militias called janjaweed, which have systematically raped women and pillaged villages in a campaign the United States and other nations have branded as genocide.
Atrocities have included the abuse of children, sexual violence against women and attacks on humanitarian workers, according to the United Nations.
More than 200,000 people reportedly have died.
The resolution expresses its "determination to work with" Sudan's "government of national unity, in full respect of its sovereignty, to assist in tackling the various problems confronting Sudan" and says a U.N. operation in Darfur "shall have, to the extent possible, a strong African participation and character."
Category: Darfur, Sudan, The UN and USA.