The United Nations is withdrawing its peacekeeping forces from the Sudanese crisis region of Darfur. With the end of the Unamid mission, the “responsibility for the protection of civilians” will be transferred to the government of Sudan, a statement said.
The joint mission of the UN and the African Union (AU) was active in Darfur for 13 years. Just over a week ago, the UN Security Council agreed to suspend the mission on December 31. According to the resolution, the withdrawal of personnel and equipment is to begin on Friday. It should be fully completed on June 30th.
The interim government in Khartoum requested that the mission, which was launched in 2007, be terminated. Both the United Nations and the African Union had also spoken out in favor of this step, despite protests by numerous people in Darfur in front of the mission’s headquarters in the regional capital Nyala.
Amnesty fears “security vacuum”
The human rights organization Amnesty International, on the other hand, had called for the mission to be extended and warned of a “security vacuum”.
At the height of the Unamid mission, 16,000 blue helmets were stationed in Darfur. In 2003, a bloody conflict between rebel groups and the army under the then President Omar al-Bashir broke out in the region in western Sudan, which, according to UN estimates, killed around 300,000 people. 2.5 million people have been displaced.
For some years now, Darfur has been relatively calm. In recent weeks, however, there have been repeated skirmishes and violent clashes between hostile groups and between Arab nomads and farmers. Many residents of the region fear a resurgence of violence after the Unamid withdrawal.