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UN panel extends mandate for Sudan peacekeepers


New York : The UN Security Council Thursday extended the mandate of UN peacekeeping troops in Sudan’s troubled Darfur province for another year.

That means that UNAMID, the joint UN and African Union peacekeeping operation in Darfur, will stay at least until July 2010.

In the unanimously-adopted resolution, the UN’s highest decision making body emphasized that protection of civilians and the free access by aid workers to the region continues to have highest priority.

UN troops joined the African Union troops at the end of 2007/early 2008 to bolster their efforts to stem the killing in western Sudan which has been called genocide by Washington and other governments.

According to the most recent report from UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, the mission still has not reached its approved strength. Of the 20,000 troops that are to be in place, only about 14,000 or 68 percent have been deployed. Of the mandated 6,500 police officers, only 40 percent are deployed.

The Security Council asked to be updated every three months in the future over progress in fledging out the peacekeeping force.

The conflict between black African rebels and Arabic militia on horseback who are backed by Khartoum has claimed more than 300,000 civilian lives since 2003. An estimated 2.6 million people have been displaced while 4.7 million Darfurians are totally dependent on humanitarian aid.