A joint United Nations and African Union peacekeeping mission in Sudan's Darfur region will end on December 31, the UN Security Council decided on Tuesday, more than 13 years after it established the operation, reports Reuters.
The 15-member Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution that terminates the mandate for the mission, known as UNAMID, at the end of the month and outlines a six-month drawdown of troops with a complete withdrawal by June 30.
According to the UN website of the peacekeeping mission, there are currently some 4,000 troops, 480 police advisers, 1,631 police, 483 international civilian staff, and 945 national civilian staff on the ground.
The conflict spread in Sudan's western Darfur region from 2003 after mostly non-Arab rebels rose up against Khartoum. Government forces and mainly Arab militia that moved to repress the revolt were accused of widespread atrocities. An estimated 300,000 people were killed and 2.5 million displaced.
Former Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir was deposed by the military in April 2019 after months of protests against poor economic conditions and Bashir's autocratic, three-decade rule.
A transitional government was formed under a three-year power-sharing agreement between the military and civilian groups that are meant to lead to free and fair elections.
In June, the Security Council established a UN political mission to assist Sudan's political transition, support peace processes, assist peace-building, civilian protection, and rule of law, in particular in Darfur, and help coordinate humanitarian aid and development assistance.
Many Darfuri residents say UNAMID has not effectively protected them, but they fear its withdrawal will leave them more vulnerable and have staged protests in recent weeks.
In October, Sudan's transitional authorities finalized a peace deal with some rebel groups from Darfur. But the agreement excluded the group that has been most active on the ground.