U.N. cuts back on Darfur peacekeepers

UNITED NATIONS, Aug. 1 (UPI) -- The U.N. Security Council expressed concern over the situation in Darfur but cut back on the mission to focus efforts on the highest security threats.

Ibrahim Gambari, the head of Darfur's hybrid peacekeeping mission, told members of the Security Council last week there was "a long way to go" before there is order in Darfur.


Azerbaijan was the lone abstention in a vote to extend the mandate for the African Union-U.N. Hybrid Operation in Darfur for another year.

The Security Council, in its resolution, said it was "deeply concerned" about violence and insecurity in Darfur as well as clashes with Sudanese forces in the region.

"The council was also concerned that attacks on humanitarian personnel and peacekeepers continued to restrict access to conflict areas where vulnerable populations resided," the panel stated.

It opted, however, to cut down on the military and police component of the peacekeeping force in order to focus on parts of Darfur "with the highest security threats."

The International Criminal Court in 2009 issued an arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir on war crimes charges in Darfur. The United Nations estimates that at least 300,000 people have died since 2003 as a result of fighting between rebel forces and the government-backed Janjaweed militia.

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