UN council set to renew Darfur peacekeeping mandate

11:52, 31 July 2008
World
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Ukraine could provide transport helicopters to the mission

The U.N. Security Council is set to renew a mandate for peacekeepers in Sudan`s war-ravaged Darfur region on Thursday in a resolution calling for redoubled efforts to end a 5-year humanitarian disaster, according to Reuters.

The 15 council members struck a deal on a revised British draft resolution after Western powers agreed to include wording that echoes African Union concerns that International Criminal Court moves to indict Sudan`s President Omar Hassan al-Bashir for war crimes could derail the fragile Darfur peace process.

The resolution makes it clear the council is ready to discuss suspending any future ICC genocide indictment of Bashir in the interest of peace in Darfur.

Western diplomats said the resolution would likely be adopted unanimously when the council meets at 1900 GMT. Sudan`s U.N. Ambassador Abdalmahmoud Abdalhaleem told Reuters it was an "acceptable" text for Khartoum.

Nearly half the council had made an ICC reference in the text a condition of renewing the peacekeeping mandate.

Despite the accommodation to South Africa, Libya, Russia, China and four other council members on a possible indictment of Bashir, one Western diplomat described the resolution as a "wake-up call" to the international community to finally end the Darfur crisis.

International experts and U.N. officials estimate that at last 200,000 people have died and 2.5 million been driven from their homes in Darfur since mostly non-Arab rebels took up arms in early 2003 accusing central government of neglect.

Khartoum blames the Western media for exaggerating the conflict and says 10,000 people have been killed.

Security in Darfur, an area roughly the size of France where oil was discovered in 2005, has been deteriorating. Civilians, humanitarian aid workers and peacekeepers have been killed and wounded, making it increasingly difficult for aid agencies to feed Darfur`s 2.5 million hungry and displaced.

STRUGGLING PEACEKEEPERS

The resolution expresses the council`s "deep concern for the decreasing security of humanitarian personnel, including killings of humanitarian workers."

It also demands "an end to attacks on civilians, from any quarter, including by aerial bombing."

The rebels have accused the government of backing militia who have devastated Darfur villages with helicopter attacks, charges Khartoum has denied. But the council also has the rebels in mind with its call for an end to all violence.

The U.N.-AU peacekeeping force, known as UNAMID, has been struggling to stabilize the situation, but only some 9,500 troops and police have been deployed out of a planned force of 26,000, partly due to Khartoum`s insistence that most peacekeepers be Africans.

Adding to UNAMID`s difficulties, troop contributing countries have failed to provide badly-needed helicopters and other equipment for the mission.

Separately, a new report issued on Thursday by aviation expert Thomas Withington and endorsed by 30 rights groups and think tanks named the Czech Republic, India, Italy, Romania, Spain and Ukraine as countries which between them could provide 71 transport helicopters to the mission while NATO member states could provide 104 helicopters.

The resolution calls on U.N. member states to provide the helicopters and everything else UNAMID needs.

The United Nations hopes to have 80 percent of the full mission deployed by the end of the year. The resolution urges the United Nations and Sudan to do everything possible to make UNAMID fully functional.

Reuters

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