U.N. to Reduce Peacekeepers in Darfur Region of Sudan

Mr. Omer added that the withdrawal of peacekeepers “will make several key areas unsafe for humanitarian operations, likely leading to closures of programs upon which tens of thousands of conflict-affected people rely.”

Peter Wilson, Britain’s deputy ambassador, told the Council that the situation remained “fragile” in Darfur, but had “evolved” sufficiently to justify the reduction of peacekeepers. Mr. Wilson said the Security Council would receive more frequent assessments of the situation in Darfur and would re-evaluate the conditions there in six months.

The government of Sudan thanked the Security Council, asserting that Darfur was now secure and stable. The country’s president, Omar al-Bashir, has been indicted by the International Criminal Court on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity in connection with his government’s role in the conflict with Darfur rebels since 2003.

But Mr. Bashir has refused to cooperate with the court and continues to travel widely. The United States has said it is considering lifting sanctions against Sudan, as Washington has come to increasingly rely on the government’s participation in counterterrorism operations.

The United Nations mission in Darfur has come under criticism in the past for not doing enough to protect civilians from being raped or killed. The mission has routinely complained of a lack of cooperation from the government in Khartoum.

“There is no reason to believe that government attacks on civilians and other abuses have ended since the same security forces remain in place,” Daniel Bekele of Human Rights Watch said recently when the peacekeeping reductions were proposed. “They have never been prosecuted for their crimes and can’t be relied on to protect civilians.”

The American ambassador, Nikki R. Haley, said nothing specifically about Darfur on Thursday. But Ms. Haley has called for spending less on peacekeeping, inveighing against what she has called “fat” in United Nations operations. She had sought a $1 billion reduction in the $7.87 billion United Nations peacekeeping budget.

The cuts that were finally hammered out this week, after intense negotiations with other big funders of the organization, were modest. Diplomats settled on a $7.3 billion budget, equal to what the European Union had proposed and slightly less than what African countries had sought. The United States pays for 28 percent of the peacekeeping…

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