The United Nations Security Council voted unanimously today to send 10,000 troops and more than 700 civilian police to southern Sudan for an initial period of six months to support the peace agreement between the Government of Sudan and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A), which ended more than two decades of civil strife.
The peacekeepers would form the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS), which, as part of a considerable mandate, would liaise and coordinate with the African Mission in Sudan (AMIS) "with a view towards expeditiously reinforcing the effort to foster peace in Darfur," said the United States-sponsored resolution.
Other parts of the mandate include monitoring and verifying the ceasefire agreement, helping to set up a disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programme for ex-combatants, and promoting national reconciliation and human rights.
It requested Secretary-General Kofi Annan to report to the Council within 30 days on ways in which UNMIS could reinforce the peace effort in the western region of Darfur through appropriate assistance to AMIS, including logistical support and technical assistance.
"Let us be clear: the people of Sudan, the donor community and the United Nations face extraordinary challenges in implementing the peace agreement. These must be addressed quickly and with determination. Serious political hurdles still confront the peace process and we must have the full cooperation of the parties to overcome them," Mr. Annan said in a message read to the Council by UN peacekeeping chief Jean-Marie Guéhenno.
He noted that the UN would face unprecedented logistical obstacles in setting up the operation "in a country famous for its extreme climate and prohibitive terrain" and that an appeal for $560 million for relief and recovery operations in southern Sudan had brought in only 10 per cent of that amount.
The resolution stressed that no military action could solve the problems in Darfur and it called on the Sudanese Government and the rebel groups, especially the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) and the Sudanese Liberation Army/Movement (SLA/M) to resume peace talks rapidly and without preconditions in Abuja, Nigeria.
It also called on the UN Joint Assessment Mission, the World Bank and unilateral and multilateral donors to provide an assistance package for the reconstruction and economic development of Sudan, including official development assistance and trade access, and it welcomed a Norwegian initiative to convene an international donors' conference for the country.
The resolution noted that all the UN regulations for strict and appropriate peacekeeper conduct had to be observed.