Sudan government on Monday urged the United Nations Security Council to lift its suspension of troop withdrawals and make sure the peacekeepers vacate Darfur by June 2020, but the African Union said overall security in the vast western region is currently volatile, reported The Hindu.
Sudan’s Ambassador to the UN, Omer Mohamed Siddig, told UNSC on Monday that it is now time to shift from peacekeeping to peacebuilding in Darfur and to ease restrictions on the government’s movement of arms and troops in and out of the region.
In June, the Security Council voted unanimously to stop the withdrawal of the joint UN-African Union peacekeeping force from Darfur amid a political crisis in the country. The council extended the mandate of the force, known as UNAMID, until October 31, and called out the UN and AU to make recommendations by September 30 on what the council should do about continuing the withdrawal.
The UN has placed around 5,600 so-called blue helmets in Darfur, though plans had been in place to reduce the force’s size to 4,050.
The Darfur conflict began in 2003 when ethnic Africans rebelled, accusing the Arab-dominated Sudanese government of discrimination. The government led by former President Omar al-Bashir was accused of retaliating by arming local nomadic Arab tribes and using them on civilian populations.
In recent years, the rebellion has been reduced to a rebel Sudan Liberation Army faction led by Abdul Wahid Elnur in Jebel Marra due to a successful government military campaign.
Smail Chergui, the AU commissioner for peace and security, told the council that Darfur still faces intermittent armed clashes between government forces and Elnur’s rebels. The militants continue to abduct civilians and staff of non-governmental organizations for ransom, rob commercial trucks and loot property of local media and humanitarian organizations.
The AU commissioner added that the current farming season is likely to see more land-related violence.