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UN to halve its joint AU peacekeeping force in Darfur

The UN Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations, Jean-Pierre Lacroix said Monday, it plans to halve its joint peacekeeping force with the African Union in Darfur.

The latest plan will see the reduction of troops from 8,735 to 4,050 by June 2019, while police would be reduced from 2,500 to 1,870.

Lacroix told the Security Council, the situation in Darfur has changed dramatically in the right direction since the peak of the conflict.

The peacekeepers will now focus on the mountainous Jebel Marra region, where fighting continues between Sudanese government forces and rebel groups.

The Security Council will vote on the latest plan on June 28 when mandate of the peacekeeping mission is renewed.

The level of violence has decreased significantly in recent years and Khartoum believes the conflict is over.

Last year, the UN Security Council agreed to downsize the United Nations-African Union Mission in Darfur (MINUAD), which was one of the largest and most costly of all peacekeeping operations.

The downsizing was to move, in two stages, from 13,000 peacekeepers to 11,400 and then to 8,735 with June 30, 2018 as deadline.

The United States called for budget cuts in peace operations. Since 2007, MINUAD has deployed up to 16,000 peacekeepers.

Conflict broke out since 2003 between Sudanese forces and rebel ethnic minority who felt marginalized by the central government.

The UN says the conflict in Darfur has left some 300,000 dead and more than 2.5 million displaced

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