Security Council sending team to Darfur to pave way for peacekeepers
|Cbc News, 16 Mai 2006|
The UN has moved a step closer to sending a peacekeeping force to Darfur, the region in western Sudan where more than 200,000 people have died in what has been called a genocide.
The Security Council on Tuesday unanimously agreed to send a UN team to the region within a week to prepare for a UN force to take over peacekeeping from the 7,300 African Union (AU) soldiers now there.
The Sudanese government has rejected the idea of UN soldiers in the past in favour of the AU force. But the AU on Monday endorsed the idea of handing over responsibility to the UN no later than the end of September.
There was no threat of action if Sudan continues to resist the UN force, but John Bolton, the American ambassador to the UN, said Sudan "would find itself in a very difficult position" if it failed to co-operate.
The council's unanimous resolution also makes a guarded threat to impose sanctions against any group that tries to interfere with a May 5 peace agreement signed by the government and the main militant group, the Sudan Liberation Army.
The resolution calls on the parties to the peace agreement to help the UN take over peacekeeping.
It also urged the holdouts – a faction of the Sudan Liberation Movement and the Justice and Equality Movement – to sign the agreement.
U.S. President George W. Bush, among others, has called the situation in Darfur genocide. The mostly black rebels have been fighting the Arab-dominated central government in Khartoum, demanding greater autonomy.
The government is accused of backing the Arab militias, which have been blamed for the many of the killings and rapes, as well as the displacement of two million people.