Amidst intensified fighting, U.N. approves U.S. proposed budget cuts for peacekeepers & police in Sudan

By Middle East Affairs

The U.N. reported that their personnel had been blocked from reaching hundreds of displaced Sudanese in Darfur that desperately needed their help to survive by Sudanese forces.

As fighting intensified in the Jebel Marra mountains of Darfur between Sudanese forces and the Sudan Liberation Army-Abdul Wahid rebel group, hundreds of civilians have become displaced.

In a statement Jeremiah Mamabolo, the head of the joint African Union-United Nations peacekeeping mission in Darfur (UNAMID) said, “The continued fighting is deplorable and should stop immediately, while unhindered access should be granted to enable humanitarian aid agencies to reach the affected population.”

It continued on to say, “Attempts by UNAMID to verify the situation on the ground have been blocked, with government forces denying mission personnel access to areas of conflict.”

A cease-fire had been announced by Khartoum in March, applying to Darfur and another conflict in Blue Nile and South Kordofan states, however, the groups have ignored it and continued fighting.

While the U.N. is looking to scale-back its peace-keeping mission in Darfur, fighting has intensified.

The chief of U.N. peacekeeping forces Jean-Pierre Lacroix said that their troops would be reduced almost in half from 8,735 to 4,050 by June 2019, with polices forces dwindling from 2,500 to 1,870.

The U.S. campaigned for U.N. budget costs, and with the UNAMID mission being among the biggest and costliest of all peace operations, the Security Council yielded to their demands and approved the budget cuts.

Peacekeepers will now turn their attention and focus their efforts on and around Jebel Marra where clashes have intensified.

June 28 will see one more round of proposed budget cuts to be voted on by the Security Council.

The conflict in Darfur has been raging for more than a decade, the fighting began in 2003 when ethnic African rebels took up arms against Sudan’s government, accusing it of marginalization. The state now insists that fighting has ended, but the recent displacement of hundreds of civilians disproves that.

Five years after the start of the conflict, hundreds of thousands of people by then had perished from starvation or been killed, the U.N. sent 16,000 troops to help keep civilians safe.

Urged by U.S. budget cuts the council voted on a two-stage reduction of troops, first from 13,000 to 11,400 and this year the end of June will see the number of troops dwindle to 8,735.

Police numbers have also dropped from 3,150 to 2,888 in January and will be further reduced to 2,500 by June.

Since the beginning of the conflict, the U.N. has reported more than 300,000 to be killed as a result of the conflict and more than 2.5 million Sudanese displaced, with the majority still living in refugee camps since the start of the conflict 15 years ago.

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