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UN Adopts Resolutions; Votes by Email  03/31 06:21

   UNITED NATIONS (AP) -- The U.N. Security Council unanimously adopted four 
resolutions on Monday, with its 15 members voting by email for the first time 
because of the coronavirus pandemic.

   Members voted to keep troops in Sudan's restive Darfur region until the end 
of May and maintain the U.N. political mission in Somalia until June 30. They 
extended the mandate of the U.N. panel of experts monitoring sanctions against 
North Korea until April 30, 2021, and they stressed the importance of 
supporting the U.N.'s far-flung peacekeeping operations.

   The U.N.'s most powerful body has been meeting by video because of COVID-19, 
which has hit New York City, where the U.N. has its headquarters, exceedingly 
hard. The last council meeting in the headquarters complex was on March 12, 
when a resolution was adopted extending the mandate of the U.N. peacekeeping 
mission in South Sudan and welcoming "encouraging developments" toward peace.

   A resolution sponsored by the United Kingdom and Germany extends the joint 
United Nations-African Union peacekeeping force in Darfur known as UNAMID until 
May 31 when the council said it will decide on "the responsible draw-down and 
exit" of UNAMID. The council said it also intends to establish "a follow-on 
presence to UNAMID" at the same time.

   The Darfur conflict began in 2003 when ethnic Africans rebelled, accusing 
the Arab-dominated Sudanese government of discrimination. The government in 
Khartoum was accused of retaliating by arming local nomadic Arab tribes and 
unleashing them on civilian populations --- a charge it denies. In recent 
years, as the result of a successful government military campaign, the 
rebellion has been reduced to a single rebel faction.

   There has been pressure, including from the Trump administration, to scale 
down the UNAMID force in response to reduced fighting and security conditions. 
It was established in 2007 and was one of the U.N.'s most expensive operations, 
with a ceiling of 15,845 military personnel and 3,403 police in June 2016.

   In July 2018, the Security Council voted to dramatically cut the force, with 
a target to end the mission on June 30, 2020, but the mass street protests by a 
pro-democracy movement which began in late 2018 and led to last year's ouster 
of Al-Bashir and a military-civilian transitional government caused a delay.

   As of January, UNAMID had over 4,300 military personnel, more than 2,100 
international police, and about 1,500 civilian staff. The resolution adopted 
Monday will maintain that force for two months.

   A proposed U.N. Security Council resolution obtained by AP earlier this 
month would replace UNAMID with a U.N. political and peace-building mission 
whose primary aim would be to support Sudan's fragile transition to democracy 
including in drafting a new constitution and preparing for elections. But that 
proposal could be changed before the council makes a final decision on UNAMID 
and a follow-on mission at the end of May.

   China, which holds the rotating council presidency in March, sponsored a 
resolution adopted unanimously stressing "the crucial role" that U.N. 
peacekeepers play "in achieving conditions for stability and a lasting peace," 
and urging countries where they are deployed to ensure their freedom of 
movement.

   U.N. peacekeeping currently has over 100,000 field personnel including 
military, police and civilians from over 120 countries deployed in 13 active 
missions across three continents.

   The resolution expresses "grave concern about security threats and targeted 
attacks" against peacekeepers in many missions, condemns "in the strongest 
terms" all violence and killings of peacekeeping personnel, and calls for 
prompt investigation and prosecution of those responsible for attacks against 
them. 


(KR)

 
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