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U.N. Approves Peacekeeping Force in Darfur, Despite Sudan Opposition

The resolution, adopted in a 12-0 vote, allows for the planning and recruitment of troops from various countries but would not include an actual deployment until Sudan agrees to a force within its borders.

Sudan claims the presence of troops in Darfur amounts to colonization.

Three countries, Russia, China and Qatar, the only Arab country on the council, abstained from the vote, the Associated Press reported. Russia and China said they preferred Sudan’s consent before approving the vote.

The United States and Britain, the original sponsors of the resolution, hope this latest measure will pressure Khartoum into accepting aid in the region. Darfur has been ravaged by nearly three years of violence between a mostly Arab, government-backed militia and black African rebels angry at economic marginalization in the region.

A force of 7,000 African Union troops currently patrols parts of Darfur, but underfunding has led to an inability by the troops to halt the violence.

Thursday’s resolution would see 22,500 U.N. troops eventually replace the AU force, but would provide immediate air, engineering and communications support for the African Union currently on the ground, Reuters reported.

The measure also would give the United Nations power to intervene to stop violence against Darfur civilians, power not mandated by the current AU resolution.

A peace deal, brokered by AU leaders and others, and signed in May between the government and two of the main rebel groups has failed to stop the fighting and atrocities.

U.N. chief humanitarian aid coordinator Jan Egeland has warned that the crisis has worsened since May and that many more could die if help does not arrive soon.

More than 200,000 people already have died in fighting and the resulting humanitarian crisis and some 2.5 million others now live in squalid displacement camps.

On Thursday, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton urged speed to prevent the looming catastrophe.

“It is imperative that we move immediately to implement it fully to stop the tragic events unfolding in Darfur,” he said of the resolution. “Every day we delay only adds to the suffering of the Sudanese people and extends the genocide.”

The Security Council has scheduled a meeting for Sept. 8 with representatives from the African Union, Arab League, Organization of the Islamic Conference and Sudanese leaders to try to persuade Sudan to accept the resolution, the AP said.

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